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.

https://www.flashforwardpod.com

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      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 unsustainable pr...


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      37m
       

      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 machine lea...


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      52m
       

      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, a ...


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      38m
       2017-11-14

      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 implanted or...


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      33m
       2017-10-31

      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.

      To walk ...


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      27m
       2017-10-17

      Piraceuticals


      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 down. A few cool lin...


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      27m
       2017-10-03

      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.

      They explai...


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      26m
       2017-09-07

      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 ma...


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      39m
       2017-08-08

      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...


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      33m
       2017-07-05

      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...


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      34m
       2017-06-06