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Flash Forward

Rose Eveleth


Podcast Overview

A show about possible and not so possible futures. From space pirates to conscious robots to the end of antibiotics. Hosted by Rose Eveleth.

Podcast Episodes

Love On The Brain

This episode, we travel to a future where your romantic partners aren’t chosen by questions or swipes, but rather by your brainwaves. This future is based on an idea from Shelly Ronan and Ernesto D. Morales and their project Object Solutions. If you liked what you heard about Object Solutions you should check out their other work, and their Patreon page. I also talked to Suzanne Dikker, who has used EEG headsets to study everything from education, to Marina Abramovic’s art, to compatability. And to get a true expert position on dating apps, I talked to Andrea Silenzi from the podcast Why Oh Why. If you’re interested in the intersection between sex, dating, relationships and technology, check out her show. Other things to read: The Mutual Wave Project by Suzanne Dikker ‘EEG Dating’ matches people based on their brainwave data This Tinder Hands-Free App Makes Dating Decisions by Reading Heartbeats This Tinder-Swiping Biometric Love Robot Knows Who Your Body Wants Flash Forward is produced by me, Rose Eveleth. The intro music is by Asura and the outtro music is by Hussalonia. The episode art is by Matt Lubchansky. By the way, check out Matt's new animated web series over at Topic.  If you want to suggest a future we should take on, send us a note on Twitter, Facebook or by email at info@flashforwardpod.com. I love hearing your ideas! And if you think you’ve spotted one of the little references I’ve hidden in the episode, email us there too. If you’re right, I’ll send you something cool. And if you want to support the show, there are a few ways you can do that too! We have a Patreon page, where you can donate to the show. But if that’s not in the cards for you, you can head to Apple Podcasts and leave us a nice review or just tell your friends about us. Those things really do help. That’s all for this future, come back next month and we’ll travel to a new one.

Mons Voyage

This episode, we go on another vacation! Can you tell I need a vacation? Anyway, back to the episode. What would it be like if you could hop on a space cruise ship, and take a trip to Mars? This is a special episode because our little future intro is actually two real people playing real parts. Olivia Koski and Jana Grcevich are the authors of a new book called Vacation Guide to the Solar System. The book is a spinoff of their long-running project the Intergalactic Travel Bureau, a project of Guerilla Science and a place where people could really come inside and ask about trips to other planets. And they take us on a very fun tour of what you could do, as a tourist, to Mars. Along with Olivia and Jana, this episode features Ben Longmier, a former rocket scientist, and Rebecca Boyle, a science writer who has a true love for Mars.  There’s a lot to talk about when it comes to intergalactic travel, so in this episode we focus specifically on tourism. Not colonization, or research, or any of the other things that you could potentially try to do. And we’re also going to focus on a single planet, just because trying to cover all the planets would be really hard. So what would it be like, to take a vacation to Mars. Just… a trip for fun. Like going to Cancun. But instead of snorkeling you hike up Olympus Mons? Listen to find out! Further reading: 'Intergalactic Travel Bureau' Wants to Plan Your Space Vacation Vacation to Mars Everything About Mars is the Worst Welcome To Mars! Enjoy Perpetual Jet Lag Under An Eerie Red Sky Mars Needs Lawyers Life on Mars time for JPL scientist and his family Flash Forward is produced by me, Rose Eveleth. The intro music is by Asura and the outtro music is by Hussalonia. The episode art is by Matt Lubchansky. If you want to suggest a future we should take on, send us a note on Twitter, Facebook or by email at info@flashforwardpod.com. We love hearing your ideas! And if you think you’ve spotted one of the little references I’ve hidden in the episode, email us there too. If you’re right, I’ll send you something cool. And if you want to support the show, there are a few ways you can do that too! We have a Patreon page, where you can donate to the show. But if that’s not in the cards for you, you can head to iTunes and leave us a nice review or just tell your friends about us. Those things really do help. That’s all for this future, come back next month and we’ll travel to a new one.

Back to the Future: A Womb Away From Home

Long time listeners of Flash Forward might feel like this future is kind of… familiar. And it is. It’s actually the first future we ever traveled to on this show. A future where humans have invented artificial wombs. And this is a special bonus episode of Flash Forward where we’re going to go back and revisit that future, because a new piece of research recently came out about artificial wombs. I’m calling this, a BACK TO THE FUTURE episode. Related reading: Fluid-filled ‘biobag’ allows premature lambs to develop outside the womb An extra-uterine system to physiologically support the extreme premature lamb Early Ectogenesis: Artificial Wombs in 1920s Literature The Man Who Ran a Carnival Attraction That Saved Thousands of Premature Babies Wasn’t a Doctor at All The World, the Flesh & the Devil An Enquiry into the Future of the Three Enemies of the Rational Soul The Hermetic and Alchemical Writings of Paracelsus Daedalus, or Science and the Future Flash Forward is produced by me, Rose Eveleth, and is part of the Boing Boing podcast family. The intro music is by Asura and the outtro music is by Hussalonia. The episode art is by Matt Lubchansky. If you want to suggest a future we should take on, send us a note on Twitter, Facebook or by email at info@flashforwardpod.com. We love hearing your ideas! And if you think you’ve spotted one of the little references I’ve hidden in the episode, email us there too. If you’re right, I’ll send you something cool. And if you want to support the show, there are a few ways you can do that too! We have a Patreon page, where you can donate to the show. But if that’s not in the cards for you, you can head to iTunes and leave us a nice review or just tell your friends about us. Those things really do help. That’s all for this future, come back next time, and we’ll travel to a new one!

Robocop

In this future there are no more human police officers. Is that even possible? The future of policing is a really really complicated topic. And it’s also, and this might be the understatement of the year, a controversial one. On this episode we’re not going to try and give you a full picture of what the future of policing might be. That would take hours. Instead, we’re going to focus on two really specific pieces of this topic. First we talk to Madeline Ashby, futurist and science fiction writer, about robots, and what it might be like if we replaced human law enforcement with robotic law enforcement. Then, we talk to historian and writer Walidah Imarisha, about a future with no cops at all. We also hear from Doug Wyllie, the Editor at Large for PoliceOne, who, perhaps unsurprisingly, doesn't like either proposal.  Further reading: Disrupt Tha Police by Madeline Ashby Bomb Robots: What Makes Killing In Dallas Different And What Happens Next? Robocop Delivers Pizza, Prevents Suicide 11 Police Robots Patrolling Around the World Machine Bias  Hard Truths: Law Enforcement and Race  Angels with Dirty Faces  Wrestling With Angels: Walidah Imarisha on Harm and Accountability Audre Lord Safe Outside the System Collective Flash Forward is produced by me, Rose Eveleth. The intro music is by Asura and the outtro music is by Hussalonia. Special thanks this week to Brent Rose. The episode art is by Matt Lubchansky. If you want to suggest a future we should take on, send us a note on Twitter, Facebook or by email at info@flashforwardpod.com. We love hearing your ideas! And if you think you’ve spotted one of the little references I’ve hidden in the episode, email us there too. If you’re right, I’ll send you something cool. And if you want to support the show, there are a few ways you can do that too! We have a Patreon page, where you can donate to the show. But if that’s not in the cards for you, you can head to iTunes and leave us a nice review or just tell your friends about us. Those things really do help.

Unreel

This month on Flash Forward, we go to a future where anybody can make a video of you doing anything they want. And that technology is cheap and easy to access. What happens? This episode we start by talking about the technology as it exists now. Hamed Pirsiavash the show to explain his research into generating videos using algorithms. Here’s a little video of how it works. And let’s just take a second to appreciate how creepy those baby videos are. So that’s where the technology stands now. But once it gets better, there are all kinds of applications. Hal Hodson, a tech reporter at The Economist, tells us about how it could be used in movies. Right now, movie-makers use CGI to project faces onto other faces. Recently, in the latest Star Wars, the faces of Princess Leia and Grand Moff Tarkin from the original trilogy were projected onto actors faces for the few scenes in the new movie. Here’s a look at how they did it. But in the future, they might not have to do any of this. They could simply generate the video they need using images of Leia and Tarkin’s faces. Which also means that movie stars could wind up being in hundreds of movies a year, since they don’t have to actually be there, on set, to act. And they could keep acting in movies long after they’ve died, too. That’s a fun thing to think about. Here’s a less fun thing to think about: how people would use this technology to seek revenge and ruin people’s lives. And to talk through the legal implications, I called Carrie Goldberg, a lawyer who specializes in revenge porn cases. She explains how these generated videos of the future would actually get around today’s revenge porn laws. Then, to wrap it all up, I talk to Jenna Wortham, a writer for the New York Times Magazine and the co-host of an amazing podcast called Still Processing. In a world where online identities are not only personally valuable, but economically valuable, what does this do to us? When anybody can torpedo your finely crafted online persona with a fake video, do we all just give up? Do we try to erase everything from the internet about ourselves? Or do we lean into this and start making wild aspirational and experimental videos? Or maybe all of the above? Bonus: You will also find out what butter, The Falkland Islands, and Snakes on a Train have in common. According to Rose. Some further reading for this episode: The Attorney Fighting Revenge Porn Social Media Got You Down? Be More Like Beyonce The future of fake news is real time video manipulation The Butter Wars: When Margarine Was Pink The British Punk Band That Fooled Reagan, Thatcher and the CIA Introduction to Generative Adversarial Networks Teaching Machines to Predict the Future Flash Forward is produced by me, Rose Eveleth, and is part of the Boing Boing podcast family. The intro music is by Asura and the outtro music is by Hussalonia. Special thanks this week to Wendy Hari, Jacki Sojico and Dan Tannenbaum. The episode art is by Matt Lubchansky. If you want to suggest a future we should take on, send us a note on Twitter, Facebook or by email at info@flashforwardpod.com. We love hearing your ideas! And if you think you’ve spotted one of the little references I’ve hidden in the episode, email us there too. If you’re right, I’ll send you something cool. And if you want to support the show, there are a few ways you can do that too! We have a Patreon page, where you can donate to the show. But if that’s not in the cards for you, you can head to iTunes and leave us a nice review or just tell your friends about us. Those things really do help. That’s all for this future, come back next time, and we’ll travel to a new one!

California Dreaming

California has one of the largest economies in the world. So what would happen if it broke away from the United States? Could California ever go independent? And if it did, what would that look like? This is a future that’s been on my list for a while, but since the election here in the United States it’s taken a bit of a different tone. California voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton in the presidential election, 66 percent of the state cast their votes for her. And as most of you probably know, she did not win. And this is one of the big talking points of many California secessionists. The presidential election is almost alway totally decided before California’s polls even close. So why should California continue to be ruled by a government that it basically doesn’t elect? And, they argue, that doesn’t really have their best interests at heart. To help figure out what this future might be like, I talked to: Peter Laufer, a journalist and the author of a book called The Elusive State of Jefferson. Jon Christensen, a professor at the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability and the Department of History at UCLA. He’s also the editor of a quarterly magazine about California called Boom. Jay Rooney, the press secretary for the California National Party. Richard Monette, a professor of law at the University of Wisconsin and the director of the Great Lakes Indian Law Center. If you want to learn more about the various California independence movements, here are some links. The California National Party Yes, California Independence Campaign Secession, the American Civil War Calexit? Brexit Buoys California Independence Movement Active separatists movements in North America Republic of Lakotah One in four Americans want their state to secede from the U.S., but why? Americans for Independence, in America Flash Forward is produced by me, Rose Eveleth. The intro music is by Asura and the outtro music is by Hussalonia. Special thanks this week to Sameer Ajmani, Jade Davis, Brent Rose, Jim Basili, Caroline Sinders and Scott Musgrove. The episode art is by Matt Lubchansky. If you want to suggest a future we should take on, send us a note on Twitter, Facebook or by email at info@flashforwardpod.com. We love hearing your ideas! And if you think you’ve spotted one of the little references I’ve hidden in the episode, email us there too. If you’re right, I’ll send you something cool. And if you want to support the show, there are a few ways you can do that too! We have a Patreon page, where you can donate to the show. But if that’s not in the cards for you, you can head to iTunes and leave us a nice review or just tell your friends about us. Those things really do help.

Greetings From Paradice

Every year, over 20 million people get on a cruise ship and set sail for a seafaring vacation. Most of those cruises take their vacationers to warm, sunny climates. But thanks to climate change, a new hoard of ships might start sailing North rather than South. This episode of Flash Forward explores a future where the Arctic becomes a tourist destination just like the Bahamas or the Great Barrier Reef. Researchers at UCLA have projected that the Northwest Passage might be totally ice-free by 2050. And that’s something that big commercial cargo ships have been eyeing for a while. But now, cruise ships are getting in on the game. The first big cruise ship to make the full Northwest Passage trip was the Crystal Serenity. Here's the route the ship took. And here's a promotional video for the cruise: This week we talk to a few people who have seen the impacts of this new tourism boom. Arielle Duhaime-Ross is a climate and environment correspondent for HBO’s VICE News Tonight. Arielle went up to Pond Inlet to see the Crystal Serenity, and talk to the people in Pond Inlet about what it's like to suddenly be flooded with visitors in puffy coats. Here's her segment. Jackie Dawson is the Canada Research Chair in Environment, Society and Policy at the University of Ottawa. She’s done a lot of work studying the ways tourism impacts people and the environment in places like Pond Inlet. And she spent years trying to convince people to take arctic tourism seriously. Nancy Guyon is the Director of Tourism and Cultural Industries for Nunavut, the northernmost Canadian territory. And Nancy’s job is to try and figure out how to harness this new interest in the arctic for the good of Nunavut. So this future is a little bit unlike some of the other ones I do on this show, because it’s a future that’s kind of inevitable. It’s happening, it’s going to happen. Are communities ready for it? No, is the general consensus. And in this episode we talk about what might happen as this gets more and more popular. What happens when a ship hits and iceberg? What happens when private yachts show up to communities that don't want them? How do you make sure that these ships don't disrupt local hunts, and that the tourists respect the people living in these communities?  Flash Forward is produced by me, Rose Eveleth, and is part of the Boing Boing podcast family. The intro music is by Asura and the outtro music is by Hussalonia. The episode art is by Matt Lubchansky. If you want to suggest a future we should take on, send us a note on Twitter, Facebook or by email at info@flashforwardpod.com. We love hearing your ideas! And if you think you’ve spotted one of the little references I’ve hidden in the episode, email us there too. If you’re right, I’ll send you something cool. And if you want to support the show, there are a few ways you can do that too! We have a Patreon page, where you can donate to the show. But if that’s not in the cards for you, you can head to iTunes and leave us a nice review or just tell your friends about us. Those things really do help. The music in this episode was: BoxCat Games, “Assignment” BoxCat Games, “Love of my Life” Oorlab, “Apiarist, Part 1” Sounds in this episode: "Wind, Synthesized, A.wav" by InspectorJ of Freesound.org

Robocrop

Today’s episode is about a future where nobody works on farms anymore, all farming is done by robots. Is it possible? Probably not. But it might be closer than you think. Today’s episode features: Curtiz Marez, a professor at UC San Diego and the author of Farm Worker Futurism: Speculative Technologies of Resistance which is the book that inspired this episode. Sarah Mock, a former Wyoming farm kid turned farm researcher with the Farmers Business Network. JJ Price, the global marketing manager at Spread, a lettuce factory in Japan. My grandma. She doesn’t have a website. We start this episode with some history, going back to the 1934 World Fair which featured the Farm Machinery Hall, full all kinds of machines: harvesters, threshers, cultivators ,corn pickers, mowers, tractors and mechanical cotton harvesters. There was even a milking machine on display, set up to milk an animatronic cow that could moo, switch its tail, turn its head, wink, chew cud and breathe. The cow was even rigged up with an internal set of tubes to make milk come out from the milker. It’s easy to look at some of these future predictions from the 1930’s and laugh, but Professor Marez says that at the time there were some serious political undertones here. In the 1930’s, farm workers in California were largely migrants, and they were starting to organize and form unions and starting to demand rights and protections. At the same time, you started to have this moral panic, in California in particular, that the influx of Mexican workers stoked the racist fears of white families who thought that their women and children might be in danger. And this tension only got worse through the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s as workers rights movements got stronger. In response, some of these companies developed “farm bots” that they presented as mechanical alternatives to the so called “dangerous” Mexican men. In the 1930’s International Harvester Company sent a robot called “Harvey Harvester” to a variety of state fairs. Harvey looks crude today, but the idea was that he was a robot that could be controlled remotely by his master. I don’t think Harvey actually worked, but he was outfitted with a metal sombrero, and often photographed looking quite harmless next to pretty white girls. In the 1960’s Harvey got an upgrade and became Tracto the Talking Robot, and was often photographed holding white children. Another interesting thing about the 1930’s World Fair is that unlike a lot of the future predictions that it made, it was actually pretty spot on when it  came to farming.  Here’s some of what the ad for the company selling the radio controlled farm at the 1934 World’s Fair said: “Will the farmer of the future be able to sit on his front porch while directing all his farm work? Will it be possible to sit in an office in Chicago or New York and direct the operation of fleets of tractors throughout the world? Will it be possible by these methods to operate farm properties in both hemispheres and gather harvests in practically every month of the year? These are a few of the unanswerable questions with which the weird spectacle of a driverless, yet perfectly controlled tractor, excites the imagination.” Well, today these questions are answerable, and the answer is… yes. Sarah Mock explains that today, almost every farmer in the United States has a self-driving tractor. Farms are incredibly high tech, full of sensors and automation and millions of dollars worth of equipment. Mock then explains that the future of farming could go one of two ways: bigger or smaller. Companies could, instead of dropping millions on a single huge piece of tech, deploy a hoard of smaller robots, each responsible for their own little patch of the farm. One company working on this kind of thing is called Rowbots, Or, Mock says, things could go the opposite way and go huge. The USDA recently tested a gigantic sensor on a huge beam suspended over the farm tha...

Extra! Extra!

This week we travel to a future where there is so much fake news that nobody can tell what is real anymore. Are we already there? What happens next? This week's guests include: Amy Webb — Founder of the Future Today Institute, and author of  The Signals Are Talking: Why Today's Fringe Is Tomorrow's Mainstream. Amy explains that we've been here before, how technology is accelerating the pace of fake news, and what keeps her up at night. Brooke Borel — a science journalist and the author of The Chicago Guide to Fact Checking. Brooke explains what we reporters can learn from science reporters, who've dealt with fake news for a while now, and how we can all be better fact checkers. Enrique Armijo — an associate professor of law at Elon University where he focuses on the media and first amendment issues. He describes his trip to Rwanda, where they tried to crack down on dangerous journalism after the media aided in a genocide. Some reading from the episode: This Analysis Shows How Fake Election News Stories Outperformed Real News On Facebook Facebook fake-news writer: ‘I think Donald Trump is in the White House because of me’ Washington gunman motivated by fake news 'Pizzagate' conspiracy Pizzagate is a lie. But what it says about our society is real Is Social Media Disconnecting Us From the Big Picture? Don’t believe anything you read at Natural News Fact-checking doesn’t ‘backfire,’ new study suggests Flash Forward is produced by me, Rose Eveleth, and is part of the Boing Boing podcast family. The intro music is by Asura and the outtro music is by Hussalonia. Special thanks this week to Diane Kelly, Matt Weller, John Oloier and Caroline Sinders. The episode art is by Matt Lubchansky. If you want to suggest a future we should take on, send us a note on Twitter, Facebook or by email at info@flashforwardpod.com. We love hearing your ideas! And if you think you’ve spotted one of the little references I’ve hidden in the episode, email us there too. If you’re right, I’ll send you something cool. And if you want to support the show, there are a few ways you can do that too! We have a Patreon page, where you can donate to the show. But if that’s not in the cards for you, you can head to iTunes and leave us a nice review or just tell your friends about us. Those things really do help. That’s all for this future, come back next week and we’ll travel to a new one.

How is Babby (Not) Made

Hello! And welcome to SEASON THREE of Flash Forward! I know I’ve been away for a bit, but I’m really excited for this season, I have some really fun futures planned for you. And some scary ones. But also fun ones! I promise, it’s a good mix. This episode we’re talking birth control: what happens when everybody has 100% control over when they do or don’t have babies? To find out I called up a bunch of people who know all about the past, present and future of baby making.  Aaron Hamlin explains why male birth control has been so elusive. Haylin Belay explains what is keeping women from gaining access to birth control today. Alexis Madrigal talks about a future in which conception is perfected in the lab. And Elaine Tyler May talks about what we can learn about this future from the history of the birth control pill in America. Flash Forward is produced by me, Rose Eveleth, and is part of the Boing Boing podcast family. The intro music is by Asura and the outtro music is by Hussalonia. Special thanks to Brent Rose. The episode art is by Matt Lubchansky. If you want to suggest a future we should take on, send us a note on Twitter, Facebook or by email at info@flashforwardpod.com. We love hearing your ideas! And if you think you’ve spotted one of the little references I’ve hidden in the episode, email us there too. If you’re right, I’ll send you something cool. And if you want to support the show, there are a few ways you can do that too! We have a Patreon page, where you can donate to the show. But if that’s not in the cards for you, you can head to iTunes and leave us a nice review or just tell your friends about us. Those things really do help. That’s all for this future, come back next week and we’ll travel to a new one.

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