Flash Forward

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




      You’ve Got Brainmail

      In our last episode of the season, we take one one of the most requested futures: telepathy! What would it be like to be able to link minds, and communicate brain to brain? And how likely is it that we’ll ever get this kind of technology?

      We start the episode by talking to Roger Luckhurst, a Professor in Modern and Contemporary Literature at Birkbeck, University of London, who explains where the word telepathy comes from, and how it totally obsessed men of science in t...




      This episode we travel to a future where the 2020 census goes haywire. What happens if we don’t get an accurate count of Americans? Who cares? Apparently the constitution does! 

      The 2020 census is currently in the crosshairs — census watchers say that it’s not getting enough funding, and community organizations and local governments are already worrying about what an inaccurate census might mean for their people.

      To walk us through the current perils facin...



      There’s No Great Future in Plastics

      This episode is all about a world without plastic. What would that look like? Is it even possible? 

      Today, plastic is seen as one of our great environmental enemies. But it actually wasn’t always that way. Bradford Harris, a historian of science and the host of a podcast called How It Began: A History of the Modern World, and Susan Freinkel, a journalist and the author of Plastic: A Toxic Love Story, walk us through how plastic started out as a solution to un...



      Our Father, Who art in Algorithm

      In this episode, we travel to a future where a tech mogul feeds a machine learning system all the religious texts he can find, and asks it to generate a “super religion.”

      Buckle up because this is a long episode! But it’s fun, I promise.

      For the intro of this episode I worked with Janelle Shane to actually train a machine learning algorithm on a big chunk of religious texts that I assembled, and spit something back out. The specifics of the texts and the ...



      Deceptible Me

      This episode we travel to a future where you can choose to turn off your ability to deceive yourself. Are you now a perfectly clear eyed genius? Or a perpetually depressed misanthrope? Maybe both? 

      This episode was suggested by my mom. It begins with two tales of self deception, one from Jacquelyn Gill, an assistant professor of paleo-ecology at the University of Maine and the host of a podcast about climate change called Warm Regards, and the other from Beth Duckles, ...



      Easy Bake Organs

      This episode we take on a future full of bioprinted replacement organs. You asked for more hopeful futures, this is about as hopeful as they get!

      We start by hearing a bit about what the current organ donation market is like from Christine Gentry, who donated a kidney to a stranger. Then we talk to Dr. Anthony Atala,  the Director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine and of the world’s leading regenerative medicine specialists. Dr. Atala has im...



      Buzz Off

      In this episode we travel to a world without bees. And not just honey bees, all bees.

      You’ve probably heard a lot of doom and gloom predictions about what might happen if honey bees went extinct. Mass famine! The end of coffee! World economic collapse! But is that all true? (Probably not.) And how likely is a honeybee extinction anyway? (Extremely unlikely.) Plus, what about all the other bees in the world? We ponder these questions and more in this episode.




      This episode we go to a future with pirates! There always has to be at least one pirate episode per season. This time it’s pharmaceutical pirates.

      This episode was inspired by a new book by Annalee Newitz called Autonomous. It’s very good and you should read it. I am not being paid to say that, I just really like the book.

      Autonomous tells the story of two main characters: Jack the pharmaceutical pirate, and Palladin the bot that is trying to hunt her dow...



      After Life

      This month’s episode is about what it would take to sterilize the Earth, and why you might want to figure that out in the first place. 

      First we talk to the authors of a paper that tries to figure out this exact question. David Sloan and Rafael Alves Batista are the authors of a paper called “The Resilience of Life to Astrophysical Events” (along with Avi Loeb). No, they’re not evil scientists, just interested in what it might take to find life on other planets.



      Down For Everyone Not Just You

      This episode is a little different than other episodes. As many of you know, Flash Forward is my second job. My first job is at ESPN, where I recently helped launch an audio documentary series called 30 for 30 Podcasts. Please go check that out, even if you don’t like sports I promise there’s something for you. My episodes are numbers three and four in the series, and they’re both out, and if you like the weird stuff I do on this show I think you’ll probably enjoy them.

      Trying to ...