VR and AR: Getting Real Gets Complicated

Phil and Stephen continue their review of Thomas Frey’s 72 stunning things in the future that will be common ten years from now that don’t exist today — this time adding their own analysis and scenarios for VR and AR

Theme park rides that mix physical rides with VR experiences.

Live broadcasts of major league sports games (football, soccer, hockey, and more) in Virtual Reality.

Full-length VR movies.

Physical and psychological therapy done through VR.

Physical drone racing done through VR headsets.

VR speed dating sites.

For education and training, we will see a growing number of modules done in both virtual and augmented reality.

VR and AR tours will be commonly used in the sale of future real estate.

Will we see dreary hotel ballrooms and meeting rooms begin to vanish in favor of much more exotic workshop and seminar locations: tropical beaches, polar tundra, outer space? Will we see the arliest instances of VR “vacations?” People spending 24 hours or more in a VR environment, essentially “living there” for a short period?

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Future of Transportation: Attack of the Drones

Phil and Stephen continue their review of Thomas Frey’s 72 stunning things in the future that will be common ten years from now that don’t exist today — this time adding their own analysis and scenarios for drone technologies

Fireworks dropped from drones.

Concert swarms that produce a spatial cacophony of sound coming from 1,000 speaker drones simultaneously.

Banner-pulling drones.

Bird frightening drones for crops like sunflowers where birds can destroy an entire field in a matter of hours.

Livestock monitoring drones for tracking cows, sheep, geese, and more.

Three-dimensional treasure hunts done with drones.

Prankster Drones – Send random stuff to random people and video their reactions.

Entertainment drones (with projectors) that fly in and perform unusual forms of live comedy and entertainment.


Drones for rural and suburban mail retrieval.

Personal transportation inspired by drones

No Sailors Needed: Robot Sailboats Scour the Oceans for Data



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Self-Driving Cars: Life in the Fast Lane

Phil and Stephen continue their review of Thomas Frey’s 72 stunning things in the future that will be common ten years from now that don’t exist today — this time adding their own analysis and scenarios for self-driving cars

Queuing stations for driverless cars as a replacement for a dwindling number of parking lots.

Crash-proof cars. Volvo already says their cars will be crash-proof before 2020.

Driverless car hailing apps. Much like signaling Uber and Lyft, only without the drivers.

Large fleet ownership of driverless cars (some companies will own millions of driverless cars).

Electric cars will routinely win major races like the Daytona 500, Monaco Grand Prix, and the Indy 500.

In-car work and entertainment systems to keep people busy and entertained as a driverless car takes them to their destination.

In-car advertising. This will be a delicate balance between offsetting the cost of operation and being too annoying for the passengers.

Electric car charging in less than 5 minutes.

Phil adds: Sleeper cars — a real threat to airlines?


Suicide Squad is much better than Rotten Tomatoes score of 26%.  What gives?

Can we trust critics?

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The Internet of Everything, All the Time

Phil and Stephen continue their review of Thomas Frey’s 72 stunning things in the future that will be common ten years from now that don’t exist today — this time adding their own analysis and scenarios for amazing applications of the Internet of Things

Smart chairs, smart beds, and smart pillows that will self-adjust to minimize pressure points and optimize comfort.

Sensor-laced clothing.

“Print and Pin” payment systems that uses a biometric mark (fingerprint) plus a pin number.

Smart plates, bowls and cups to keep track of what we eat and drink.

Smart trashcan that will signal for a trash truck when they’re full.

Ownership networks. As we learn to track the location of everything we own, we will also track the changing value of each item to create a complete ownership network.

Self-retrieving shoes where you call them by name, through your smartphone, and your shoes will come to you.

Smart mailboxes that let you know when mail has arrived and how important it is.

Phil adds — (via Stephen) Smart toilet to monitor blood chemistry day to day

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Health Tech Breakthroughs: Super Pills and Robo Doctors

Phil and Stephen continue their review of Thomas Frey’s 72 stunning things in the future that will be common ten years from now that don’t exist today — this time adding their own analysis and scenarios for health technologies.

Hyper-personalized precision-based pharmaceuticals produced by 3D pill printers.

Ingestible data collectors, filled with sensors, to give a daily internal health scan and report.

Prosthetic limbs controlled by AI.

Real-time blood scanners.

Peer-to-peer health insurance.

Facetime-like checkups without needing a doctor’s appointment.

Full-body physical health scanners offering instant AI medical diagnosis, located in most pharmacies

Intraoral cameras for smartphones for DIY dental checkups.

Phil adds — Coffeeshopification of health care. Lose the infrastructure, make care massively more available.

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The Robots: Taking Our Jobs, Writing Our Books, Treating Our Illnesses

Phil and Stephen continue their analysis of Thomas Frey’s 72 stunning things in the future that will be common ten years from now that don’t exist today -
this time adding their own analysis and scenarios around AI.

Best selling biographies written by artificial intelligence.
Legal documents written by artificial intelligence.
AI-menu selection, based on diet, for both restaurants and at home.
Full body pet scanners with instant AI medical diagnosis.
AI selection of movies and television shows based on moods, ratings, and personal preferences.
Much like the last item, AI music selection will be based on moods, ratings, and musical tastes.
AI sleep-optimizers will control all of the environmental factors – heat, light, sound, oxygen levels, smells, positioning, vibration levels, and more.
AI hackers. Sooner or later someone will figure out how to use even our best AI technology for all the wrong purposes.

Phil adds – true conversational ui/computers that understand language


Escape room in a box: “Escape the Room” Mystery at the Stargazer’s Mansion

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Getting There: the Amazing Future of Transportation

Phil and Stephen continue their analysis of Thomas Frey’s 72 stunning things in the future that will be common ten years from now that don’t exist today – and add their own future transportation scenarios.


Unmanned aviation – personal drone transportation.

360-degree video transportation monitoring cameras at most intersections

Everywhere wireless.

Black boxes for drones to record information in the event of an accident.

Air-breathing hypersonic propulsion for commercial aircraft.

Robotic follow-behind-you luggage

Robotic dog walkers and robotic people walkers

Ultra high-speed tube transportation

Phil adds — how about passenger hybrid airplane / lighter than air craft?

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72 Reasons to be Excited About the Future

Phil and Stephen explore futurist Thomas Frey’s 72 stunning things in the future that will be common ten years from now that don’t exist today

Working their way more or less backwars through the list, the guys cover:

Bitcoin loans for houses, cars, business equipment and more.

Self-filling water bottles with built-in atmospheric water harvesters.

Reputation networks.

Atmospheric energy harvesters.

Pet education centers, such as boarding schools for dogs and horses, to improve an animal’s IQ.

Robotic bricklayers.

Privacy bill of rights.

Hot new buzzword, “Megaprojects.”

Adding their own item to the list, the guys discuss the newly announced revolutionary method to map the brain at single-neuron resolution. What applications might this technology have in 10 years?

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We Aren’t Saying It’s Aliens…

Phil and Stephen discuss how we might find aliens via astronomical observation.

The So-Called Alien Megastructure Just Got Even More Mysterious

By carefully examining all the full-frame images collected during Kepler’s observational campaign, Montet and Simon discovered something astonishing: Not only did the star’s light output occasionally dip by up to 20 percent, its total stellar flux diminished continuously over the course of four years.

Have we detected an alien megastructure in space? Keep an open mind

If you give aliens the credit for strange phenomena, you’re probably wrong.

Still, skepticism shouldn’t yield to cynicism.

Want to Find Aliens? Look for Planets That Have Become Stars

There Are Enough Superheroes for 3,400 Years of Movies

Between Marvel and DC there are some 17,000 characters to choose from—enough for them to keep battling it out for box office dominance for the next 3,400 years. Find out more about the ultimate superhero box office face-off in the stop-motion paper animation above.

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Amazingly Wrong: the Future is Not What We Expect

Phil and Stephen provide examples of just how wrong we can be in our thinking about the future (as well as the present and the past.)

While a Family Innocently Slept, the Roomba Was Smearing a ‘War Zone of Poop’ All Over the Living Room

Why You’re Pretty Much Unconscious All the Time

Seasteading lite

Being Lazy May Be  a Sign of Intelligence

Ray Kurzweil Explains Why Radical Life Extension Will Be Better Than You Think

Related: Living Long Enough to Live Forever

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Somebody’s Got a Good Case of the Mondays

Hosts Phil Bowermaster and Stephen Gordon let loose with a torrent of good news to brighten everybody’s Monday.

This Tiny Computer has no Battery, Powered Wirelessly from Radio Waves

A team of researchers from the University of Washington’s Sensor Lab and the Delft University of Technology has developed a new gadget that doesn’t need a battery or any external power source to keep it powered; rather it works on radio waves.

Biofuel production technique could reduce cost, antibiotics use

“Second Skin” Could Protect Troops From Chemical, Biological Agents

Stem cell therapy trial for ALS and MS patients at Jerusalem hospital shows stunning results

Bamiyan Buddhas Restored In Afghanistan With The Help Of 3D Light Projection

This Is How the World’s Poor Are Pioneering the Future of Energy

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The Amazing Future Is Here, Part Two

Phil and Stephen continue their  review of amazing advances that have taken place since they first started podcasting.

Private Space Development

This private company just became the first to get an official green light to land on the moon, and it could shape the future of space exploration

Self-Driving Cars

Man says Tesla Autopilot saved his life by driving him to the hospital

Other Advances:


Virtual reality

Vat meat

Solar energy

Artificial Intelligence

Watson correctly diagnoses woman after doctors were stumped


Life extension

Reversing Aging: Clinical Trials For “Young-to-Old” Blood Transfusions Begin


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The Amazing Future Is Here, Part One

Phil and Stephen continue their 500th show celebration with a review of amazing advances that have taken place since they first started podcasting.

Extrasolar encyclopedia lists 3500 (3489) planets outside of our solar system that have been discovered

First entry is March 18 2006

3500 planets discovered in the past 10 years

Previously, only 8 had been discovered in all of human history

3D Printing

The RepRap project started as a British initiative to develop a 3D printer that can print most of its own components and be a low-cost 3D printer, but it is now made up of hundreds of collaborators world wide.[1] RepRap is short for replicating rapid prototyper. (Today do an Amazon search on 3D printer and you’ll find dozens if not hundreds of available products.)

Statue destroyed 1,500 years ago revived through 3D printing

12 Things We Can 3D Print in Medicine

Over 100 3D Printing Projects for Your Home


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(3d printer photo by Bre Pettis)



500 Shows and Going Strong

Phil and Stephen reflect on 11 years of podcasting with their 500th show.

Questions to be addressed:

Why do you do this show? Some possible answers:

  1. We’re going to track this stuff anyway
  2. It’s fun
  3. It’s interesting
  4. We want to understand it better
  5. Need to be a part of what’s happening

What are you trying to prove?

The guys discuss the the many indications that their future is closing in on us much faster than most people suspect. Rather than stand by and watch it happen, they have decided to become participants.

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Why You’re Wrong About the Universe

Phil and Stephen discuss recent perspective-changing discoveries in astronomy.

How Many Suns Can a Planet Have?

So far three is the most we’ve found for any, but there could be more.

Contrary to Popular belief, Jupiter Does Not Orbit the Sun

Our universe could be reborn as a bouncing baby cosmos

The universe could bounce through its own demise and emerge unscathed. A new “bigbounce” model shows how the universe could shrink to a point and grow again, using just the cosmic ingredients we know about now.

Physicists Successfully Perform Time Travel Experiment

Physicists at the University of Queensland, Australia, have shown that single particles of light (photons) can pass through a wormhole and interact with its older self.

(Mathematical model only.)


Second Lego Batman Trailer:

(Batman is Robin’s Dad!)

The Bourne Completion

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Hacking Humanity: Amazing New Medical Treatments

Phil and Stephen review several new human “hacks” that will save and lengthen lives.

Artificial Pancreas Is First To Raise $1 Million Under New Crowdfunding Rules

A company creating an “artificial pancreas” for diabetics this week became the first startup to raise $1 million using new type of online stock sale open to the public at large.

The fountain of youth may reside in an embryonic stem cell gene named Nanog

In a series of experiments at the University at Buffalo, the gene kicked into action dormant cellular processes that are key to preventing weak bones, clogged arteries and other telltale signs of growing old.

Male hormone reverses cell aging in clinical trial

Sex hormones can stimulate production of telomerase, an enzyme naturally found in the human organism, new research shows.

HoloLens Hack Fools the Brain Into Fixing Itself

Microsoft’s amazing HoloLens is the world’s first stand-alone headset that lets users see virtual objects and environments as if they existed in the real world. It can also be used to rewire a malfunctioning brain.

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Let’s Get Smarter for the Future’s Sake

How smart are we, and how smart do we have to be?  Phil  and Stephen  review some recent developments that show why our thinking has to get better

Too many mice are sacrificed for seriously flawed studies

Half or more of public says they would not want these enhancements

Related: Americans Afraid of Genome-Editing to Cure Sick Kids: What’s Wrong with You People?

Oxford University Is Older Than the Aztecs

And then one great example of how our thinking CAN get better:

Smart Aid for the World’s Poor

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Cockroach Milk and Other Super Geeky Stuff

Phil and Stephen further establish their unparalleled geek cred with some news stories so geeky they might just make you sick!

Scientists think cockroach milk could be the superfood of the future

Although most cockroaches don’t actually produce milk, Diploptera punctate, which is the only known cockroach to give birth to live young, has been shown to pump out a type of ‘milk’ containing protein crystals to feed its babies.

This Swimming Stingray Robot Is Powered by Real, Living Rat Cells

This soft robotic stingray is made of rat heart muscle. Yeah, it’s just as crazy as it sounds.
The Astounding Link Between the P≠NP Problem and the Quantum Nature of Universe

It’s Star Trek, Jim, but not as we know it: the bizarre story of Turkey’s 1973 Star Trek rip-off

‘Walking Dead’ Creator Adapting ‘Chronicles of Amber’ for TV (Exclusive)

Plus: Update on Stephen’s gaming room!

WT 187-496



Amazing Results: Doing More with Less Is Really Starting to Add Up

Phil and Stephen discuss how we’re making more happen with less money, less effort, and less time — and where that’s leading us

The whole trip to Pluto cost less than 1 NFL stadium

The nine-year, three-billion-mile voyage of NASA’s New Horizons probe is undoubtedly a testament to the genius of mankind — yet the same praise might not be raised for NFL stadiums.

Healthy livers grown from rejected donor organs in transplant breakthrough

We might soon reach a point where all donor organs are used for scaffolding only.

Pumping iron: Lighter weights just as effective as heavier weights to gain muscle, build strength

New research is challenging traditional workout wisdom, suggesting that lifting lighter weights many times is as efficient as lifting heavy weights for fewer repetitions. It is the latest in a series of studies that started in 2010, contradicting the decades-old message that the best way to build muscle is to lift heavy weights.

Why the Cost of Living Is Poised to Plummet in the Next 20 Years

“What people aren’t talking about, and what’s getting my attention, is a forthcoming rapid demonetization of the cost of living.”

WT 186-495



Another Fine Mess

Hosts Phil Bowermaster and Stephen Gordon discuss why big problems call on us to get better at thinking.

We’ll Only Have a Year to Prepare For a Cataclysmic Super-Eruption

A new microscopic analysis of quartz crystals taken from the site of a massive volcanic eruption that occurred 760,000 years ago in eastern California suggests we’ll only have about a year’s worth of advance warning before a devastating super-eruption. In a paper published in PLOS ONE, Guilherme Gualda from Vanderbilt University and Stephen Sutton from the University of Chicago show that super-eruptions don’t require much time to blow their tops, even though they’re tens of thousands of years in the making.

Google Cuts Its Giant Electricity Bill With DeepMind-Powered AI

Meet Graham: The Only Person designed to Survive on Our Roads

Ray Kurzweil: Get ready for hybrid thinking


WT 185-494



Strange New Worlds: Stranger and Newer

Phil and Stephen discuss big developments in astronomy. We’re learning more about new worlds every day.

Saturn’s biggest moon could support a new kind of alien life

Researchers in the US have been analysing the chemical composition of Saturn’s largest satellite, and think the presence of hydrogen cyanide (HCN) molecules in the atmosphere could pave the way for different forms of life to evolve.

We Found a Planet Twirling Between Three Suns

And scientists can’t yet explain how it got that way.

Stars are vanishing. The reasons why could reveal clues about alien life

Uppsala University is researching what happens to stars that seemingly ‘disappear’

New Dwarf Planet Discovered Far Beyond Pluto’s Orbit

Astronomers have discovered another dwarf planet in the Kuiper Belt, the ring of icy objects beyond Neptune


Stanley Kubrick’s Daughter Rails Against Moon Landing Conspiracy Theorists

Hot Air Ballooning Returns to Shreveport.

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Amazing Materials, Amazing Products, Amazing Industries

Phil and Stephen discuss accelerating progress in producing materials and finished products

How synthetic biology will make more money than the entire computer industry

This company plans to grow armies of drones in giant tubs of chemicals

3D printing with bamboo fiber

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are using bamboo fiber in 3-D printing experiments to determine whether bio-based feedstock materials are feasible in additive manufacturing.

Smart Dust Is Coming: New Camera Is the Size of a Grain of Salt

Get a grip: GM built a force-multiplying robotic glove, and I got to try it out

This RoboGlove could help reduce fatigue on assembly lines — and its benefits stretch beyond the automotive realm.

WT 183-492



Changing Our Minds: Rethinking How We Think

Hosts Phil Bowermaster and Stephen Gordon look at why we aren’t just changing our thinking — we’re changing HOW we think.

The End of Theory: The Data Deluge Makes the Scientific Method Obsolete

Petabytes allow us to say: “Correlation is enough.” We can stop looking for models. We can analyze the data without hypotheses about what it might show.

To Diagnose Mental Illness, Read the Brain

Rather than relying on symptoms, scientists are developing a “brain circuits first” approach to mental health.

‘Hacking’ the brain: Silicon Valley entrepreneurs turn to fasting and ‘smart drugs’

How and Why to Build an Analytics-Driven Culture

How to Train Your ‘Monkey Mind’ With Meditation

WT 182-491



Robo-Drivers and Robocops: Life, Death, and Artificial Intelligence

Phil and Stephen reminisce about the good old days when “killer robots” was just a joke.

Deadly Tesla Crash Exposes Confusion over Automated Driving

Amid a federal investigation, ignorance of the technology’s limitations comes into focus

The crash occurred on a Florida highway when an 18-wheel tractor-trailer made a left turn in front of a 2015 Tesla Model S that was in Autopilot mode and the car failed to apply the brakes, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)—which is investigating—said in a preliminary report. “Neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor-trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied.”

The Dallas police used a ‘bomb robot’ to kill a shooting suspect. That’s a really big deal.

“Negotiations broke down. We had an exchange of gunfire with the suspect,” Dallas police chief David Brown explained in a press conference. “We saw no other option but to use our bomb robot and place a device on its extension for it to detonate where the suspect was.”

What do these stories tell us about future mortality related to robots?

Dinosaur corn on the cob holders

Stephen’s Total Geek Home Makeover

WT 181-490


The (Amazing) 16-Year Leap: The Immortality Paradox Part 2

Phil and Stephen discuss some “serious” ideas for life extension — including Ray Kurzweils’ upgrade on when immortality starts — which are somehow more aggressive than the “crazy” ideas.

Beyond Resveratrol: The Anti-Aging NAD Fad

Sinclair’s report sparked excitement about NR, which was already on the market as a supplement called Niagen. Niagen’s maker, ChromaDex, a publicly traded Irvine, Calif., company, sells it to various retailers, which market it under their own brand names. In the wake of Sinclair’s paper, Niagen was hailed in the media as a potential blockbuster.

Scientist claims immortality within reach

Molecular Biologist Dr Bill Andrews says he is close to discovering a ‘cure’ for ageing.

Kurzweil Accelerates Immortality Pledge From 2045 To 2029

“I believe we will reach a point around 2029 when medical technologies will add one additional year every year to your life expectancy,” he told Playboy. “By that I don’t mean life expectancy based on your birthdate, but rather your remaining life expectancy.”

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Head Transplants and Frozen Brains: The Immortality Paradox Part 1

If we are going to achieve immortality — and how exactly do we define that? — do we need extreme interventions or a more modest approach? Phil and Stephen discuss some “crazy” ideas for life extension.

But first a quick mention: Juno has landed and is up and running!

And now back to our scheduled program…

How To Become Immortal – By The People Who Think You Can

‘Center For Immortality’ Being Built in Texas

Russian man says he wants to become first person to undergo full head transplant

Humai Wants To Resurrect Humans Within 30 Years

WT 179-488



Total Geek: Real Aliens, Fake Star Trek and Other Geeky Goodness

Hosts Phil Bowermaster and Stephen Gordon do some erious geeking out.

Yes, There Have Been Aliens

In our recent paper, Professor Sullivan and I did this by shifting the focus of Drake’s equation. Instead of asking how many civilizations currently exist, we asked what the probability is that ours is the only technological civilization that has ever appeared. By asking this question, we could bypass the factor about the average lifetime of a civilization. This left us with only three unknown factors, which we combined into one “biotechnical” probability: the likelihood of the creation of life, intelligent life and technological capacity.

“Axanar,” Other Fan Films Endangered By New “Star Trek” Guidelines

“The fan production must … not exceed 30 minutes total, with no additional seasons, episodes, parts, sequels or remakes.”

Time to think about skipping the new Trek Movie? (premieres two weeks from today!)

There’s plenty of good Trek around produced by fans. Is everybody up to date?

Phil is especially impressed by:

Star Trek Continues

Matthew’s 3 hour Hobbit cut.

WT 178-487



The Declaration of Amazing 2016

Phil and Stephen review the Declaration of Singularity and amazing stories that indicate we will probably be making it sooner than some might expect.

The Declaration of Singularity

A reminder of why we fight!

Chisels to Genes: How We’ll Soon Grow What We Used to Build

Jason Kelly, founder of Gingko Bioworks, said that the company plans to create new species of bacteria whose purpose is to make a particular chemical. For example, a French fragrance company has commissioned Gingko Bioworks to grow rose oil (in a bacteria) so they don’t have to squeeze it from flower petals.

Your Self-Driving Car Will Be Programmed to Kill You—Deal With It

A terribly misleading headline! It should read: “Your Self-Driving Car Will Be Programmed to Kill You—And Here’s Why That Isn’t a Problem.”

Or better yet: “Your Self-Driving Car Will Be Programmed to Kill You—And That’s Totally Amazing.”

Elon musk open AI

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The Future and Unlimited Possibility

Phil and Stephen discuss three varieties of possibility and list examples of each:

1. The Adjacent Possible

The adjacent possible is a kind of shadow future, hovering on the edges of the present state of things, a map of all the ways in which the present can reinvent itself.

Possibilities that we are only a step or two away from.

The Robot Lawyer
Chatbot lawyer overturns 160,000 parking tickets in London and New York

See also: Conversational User Interface

Going to Mars
Elon Musk Charts Path to Colonizing Mars Within a Decade

2. The Distant Possible

Possibilities that we can imagine but that are not on the immediate horizon

Time Travel
Interstellar Travel
Digital Immortality

Question: where do we put life extension, cure for cancer, jobless economy?

3. The Hidden Possible

Possibilities both near and far that we haven’t thought of yet., e.g. when Amazon said they were looking into doing deliveries via drones.

Uber, Lyft, AirBnB

Improving health via gut bacteria

Some ideas are well known by some but still the hidden possible for many others:

The Singularity


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Why Dumb Ideas Matter (and Can Be Amazingly Powerful)

Phil and Stephen talk about the surprising usefulness of dumb ideas.

The 10 Craziest Startup Ideas Of All Time

Chat With a Star
The Meet Pen


1. Pet Rock
2. Million Dollar Homepage
3. Holy Ink
4. “Positive” Attraction
5. Plastic Wishbones
6. Doggles
7. Exercise Cards
8. Working Vacations
9. Santa Mail
10. Aquariums… without the fish

Why the World Needs More Brilliant ‘Stupid’ Ideas

The Power of Starting Something Stupid

Also — “good” ideas that failed!

Apple Newton
Google Glass

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Schooling Bezos: Debating with (and Giving Suggestions to) the Founder of Amazon

Phil and Stephen examine whether they agree or disagree with Jeff Bezos on some points he made in a recent talk:

6. Gawker’s opponents need a ‘thick skin’

5. Amazon Prime Video ‘helps sell more shoes’

4. Amazon isn’t trying to kill UPS

3. AI will have a massive impact on society in the next 20 years

2. Government surveillance is an ‘issue of our age’

1. Donald Trump’s attempt to freeze media critics is ‘not appropriate’

Meanwhile, our friend Will Brown has an idea for how Jeff can put us all to work.


Fun with the Queen’s “green screen” dress

WT 174-481



Artificial Intelligence Is Here and It’s (Wait for It) Amazing

The AI future seems to be arriving sooner than expected. Phil and Stephen review some amazing recent developments.

Long Promised Artificial Intelligence Is Looming—and It’s Going to Be Amazing

10 Stats About Artificial Intelligence That Will Blow You Away

1. $5.05 billion market by 2020

2. 6 billion devices will request AI support

3. $5.4 billion invested in AI start-ups

4. 80% of executives believe AI boosts productivity

5. Most mobile users use voice assistants

6. Virtual assistants will make decisions for you

7. Most enterprise relationships with customers won’t require humans by 2020

8. AI will replace 16% of jobs over next decade

9. Robots will probably outnumber humans at work

10. AI is powered by GPUs, not CPUs

Intelligent robot that ‘remembers and learns’ could be scrapped after escaping a lab for a second time

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Arguing (and Agreeing) with Elon

Phil and Stephen provide a reality check on some recent seemingly outrageous statements about the future by Elon Musk.

Will we really be on Mars in less than a decade? Are we really just two years away from fully autonomous cars? Are we really living in a computer simulation?

Elon Musk Just Made These 5 Bold Claims About the Future

Elon Musk believes we are probably characters in some advanced civilization’s video game

Elon Musk goes on a ‘machines building machines’ rant about the future of manufacturing

Other Geek

Stephen discusses Onitama:

A chess-lite game played on a 5×5 grid (instead of an chess 8×8).  And, instead of pieces having assigned moves (like bishop always moves diagonally) the available ways a piece can move are dictated by cards.  You have two cards in hand to choose from.  There’s a card “on deck” about to come into your hand.   You can use those cards to move any of your pieces.

“We love it because it took about 5 minutes to learn, it takes about 10 minutes to play.  But the depth is amazing.  We could play for years – getting better all along.”.

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Miracle and Wonder: Amazing Developments in Medicine

Phil and Stephen review some recent (amazing!) news from the world of medicine.

Researchers created a robotic hand that is eerily human-like and can learn on its own

AI ‘doctors’ will diagnose your X-rays

Stanford researchers ‘stunned’ by stem cell experiment that helped stroke patient walk

Lab-Grown Kidneys Proven To Work: Now Moving To Being Viable Option For CKD & Dialysis Patients

Scientists have performed the first trials of a ‘universal cancer vaccine’

Ears, noses grown from stem cells in lab dishes

WT 171-478



Space: Final Frontier or Next Big Thing?

Phil and Stephen discuss how our perception of outer space may be shifting. Still a realm of great mystery and scientific curiosity, space also promises to be a new land of opportunity. Recent news stories reflect both trends.

Three Spiral Galaxies Created a Black Hole

Rosetta spacecraft finds key building blocks for life in a comet

Here’s What Humanity Wanted Aliens to Know About Us in 1977

Turning Near-Earth Asteroids Into Strategically-Placed Fuel Dumps

Ceres: Interplanetary resources Selling Solution developed for Space on Earth

(They’ve raised $21 million.)

US Government to approve private unmanned Moon mission for next year.

WT 170-477



Superhero Smackdown! (And Other Geeky Goodness)

Phil and Stephen go full fanboy with their combined reviews of Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Captain America: Civil War. Warning: spoilers and more spoilers!

A few topics:

Everybody has been pretty hard on Batman vs. Superman but what are its good points?

New Spider-Man: Awesome or Totally Awesome?

Civil War: the ultimate in comic book big-screen entertainment or just fan service driven to a ridiculous level? (Or both?!?)

Plus OTHER Other Geek

Stephen touts the glories of  7 Wonders Duel, explaining why it’s far better than “2-player mode” in regular Seven Wonders.

Phil with some thoughts on the latest developments on Silicon Valley.

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Amazing Engineering: Disruptive Technologies Are Transforming Everything

Phil and Stephen present a roundup of amazing news stories showcasing big steps forward in engineering.

Augmented Reality Market Worth 117.40 Billion USD and Virtual Reality Market worth 33.90 Billion USD by 2022

Nanomaterials could double efficiency of solar cells by converting waste heat into usable energy

China Unveils Elevated Bus That Passes Over Cars on the Highway

Face controlled wheelchair without sensor mounted on face

Airless Tires Make Flats A Thing Of The Past. You Don’t Have To Worry About Bad Roads Ever Again!

Scientists Use Lasers To Regrow Teeth From Stem Cells

Imagine if a trip to the dentist to treat a cavity didn’t involve a filling, root canal, or crown. What if a simple light treatment could actually get your teeth to regrow themselves using stem cells? That’s the aim of a group of researchers at Harvard’s Wyss Institute, led by David Mooney, who have found success in regrowing rat teeth in this manner.

WT 168-475



The Winds of Robowar: Countdown to the AI Takeover

Are the robots really planning to take over? If so, how will they do it? Phil and Stephen use current news stories to show how the plan may already be unfolding!

Step 1: They get inside our heads.

The most popular trends in cognitive computing

IBM Watson-based cognitive computing is being adopted by more and more businesses for a wide variety of applications
Step 2: They take our jobs.

Building robot McDonald’s staff ‘cheaper’ than hiring workers on minimum wage

A former McDonald’s CEO warned that robots will take over staff jobs at the fast food empire – because it’s cheaper than employing humans.
Step 3: They make us depend on them.

What Are We Gonna Do With All The People Who Are Automated Out of Work?


Step 4: They get armed

The LOCUST Is Coming: Navy Launches Swarms of Tiny Drones

Drone swarms will change the face of modern warfare

WT 167-474



Would You Marry a Robot? (And Other Geeky Questions)

There are some questions that only a geek would ask.  Phil  and Stephen review some of these and, being geeks, attempt to answer them.

Why can’t dying patients have ANY drug they can get their hands on?

More on “what do we do with all the old people?” But this one applies to adults of all ages.
Would you MARRY a robot?

Robots could soon become intimate companions for humans and some people may even seek to marry them as they become more human-like.

Can You Get High On Chocolate?

German millennials are going to dance clubs that don’t serve booze and getting “high” on raw cocoa powder. Dogs and cats living together!

What do we do when the robots attack?

Just in case you’ve been wondering when the future will start — the army is planning to shoot down robot aircraft using laser weapons. Youi’re welcome.


Plus in OTHER GEEK news:

Playing Black Fleet with the boys last weekend.

Game of Thrones — Season 6 Review / Update

One boy’s obsession with Rubik’s cubes.



WT 166-473



Is Technology Out to Get Us?

…or out to save us?

Phil and Stephen review some recent news stories to confront the hard question of the overall value of technology. Is it good for us? Is it making our lives better or worse?


Outshining the Milky Way: Big Developments in the Final Frontier

Phil and Stephen discuss recent developments in space.

Boeing TV Spot, ‘You Just Wait

Nuclear Power Can Make Rocket Engines Twice As Fast

Nuclear thermal rockets could be much more efficient than conventional rockets
A piece of uranium the size of a marble could get us to Mars
Same technology may be used for deep-space missions where solar can’t be exploited very well

Unknown Object Outshines Milky Way Galaxy by 50 Times –”Radiates Energy of 100′s of Billion Suns”

Kepler Mission Transmits Info Of 1,284 New Planets, Is Another Habitable Planet Discovered?

Astronaut becomes first person to wear Star Trek uniform in space

Plus, in Other Geek news…

The ice chest air conditioner.

Formula D Board Game

WT 164-470



The Big, Fat Amazing: Fast Trains, Giant Robots, Universal Translator

Phil and Stephen provide a roundup of amazing news stories:

We’re about to see a mind-blowing demographic shift unprecedented in human history

MegaBots raises $2.4 million to create league of human-piloted, giant fighting robots

Hyperloop Technologies becomes Hyperloop One, pulls in $80 million and announces global partners

Hyperloop One hits 116 mph in 1.1 seconds on first public test run

Diabetic Stem Cells Were Just Transformed into Insulin-Producing Cells

Meet the Pilot: Smart Earpiece Language Translator

A little something amazing for everyone!

WT 163-469



The Robot Executive

Phil and Stephen discuss the tremendous career progress that robots seem to be making.

Here’s the first demo of Viv, the next-generation AI assistant built by Siri creator

The world’s first artificially intelligent lawyer was just hired at a law firm

ROSS is a piece of artificial intelligence software. It uses the supercomputing power of IBM Watson to comb through huge batches of data and, over time, learn how to best serve its users.

Leaderless, Blockchain-Based Venture Capital Fund Raises $100 Million, And Counting

A new entity called The DAO, created using the Bitcoin-inspired financial platform Ethereum, has collected more than $100 million worth of cryptocurrency since late April, and will use the funds to support projects in the sharing economy. The DAO is being touted as a model for a new kind of organization, created and run using blockchain software rather than conventional corporate structures.

WT 162-468



The Great Unknown: Perplexing Cosmic Mysteries

Phil and Stephen discuss cosmic (and not-so-cosmic) puzzles that defy explanation.

Parallel Universes:Theory and Evidence

A Dozen Black Holes Are Mysteriously Spewing Energy In the Same Direction

Which is exactly what Russ Taylor, lead author of a forthcoming study in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, thinks may be happening. As Science News reports, Taylor suspects the eruptions are all being steered by filaments, a sort of scaffolding along which matter congregates on a cosmic scale. If the hypothesis is correct, it could help explain how our universe’s present structure came to be.

When we can no longer tell AI from people, should we stop trying?

The Case Against Reality

A professor of cognitive science argues that the world is nothing like the one we experience through our senses.

Plus…Other Geek

A new weekly feature — extra geeky goodness just in time for the weekend!

WT 161-467


The Age of Awesomeness: Amazing Developments and Discoveries

Phil and Stephen discuss amazing developments and discoveries.

Skin and Hair recoloring

Stretchy Second Skin

New headset allows the nonverbal to communicate using their brainwaves

IBM wants everyone to try a quantum computer

Antidepressant Microbes In Soil: How Dirt Makes You Happy

MIT is raising $5 billion to make the world a better place

The institute already raised $2.6 billion.

The institute lists its various projects under the campaign’s six priority areas. First is basic research, which includes studies on the aging brain, exoplanets and protein interaction. Second priority covers environmental research, such as the quest for sustainable consumption and viable climate change solutions.

WT 161-467



What Will We Do with all the Old People?

Phil and Stephen discuss some interesting recent developments related to life extension.

An anti-aging startup hopes to elude the U.S. Food and Drug

The product contains a chemical precursor to nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, or NAD, a compound that cells use to carry out metabolic reactions like releasing energy from glucose. The compound is believed cause some effects similar to a diet that is severely short on calories—a proven way to make a mouse live longer.

First human to be made younger via gene therapy?

Could gene therapy help you live forever? CEO of controversial firm claims she has successfully carried out first anti-ageing treatment – on herself. Elizabeth Parrish, CEO of Bioviva, has been using therapies for 6 months. She says the therapy was able to reverse 20 years of telomere shortening.

How Increasing Longevity Will Shape Our World

One gnawing problem, the panelists said, is in the workplace. Few U.S. employers are finding creative ways to keep and nurture their older workers.

Freedman and Fried hope to see more older Americans using their longevity bonus to aid children who could use mentoring and assistance.

Plus: Phil and Stephen provide their own thoughts on what to do with all the old people.

WT 160-466


Big Fixes: Solutions to Some of Humanity’s Most Daunting Challenges

Phil and Stephen discuss solutions, currently under development, to some of humanity’s biggest problems.

Zuckerberg sees ‘better than human’ AI in next 10 years

Computers will delve into your timeline and figure out even more about you

What the bleep is an exocortex and why should we care?

Scientists Use Nanoparticles to Create a ‘Universal Treatment’ for Allergies

Scientists can now make lithium-ion batteries last a lifetime

The discovery could lead to vastly longer lifespans for batteries in computers, smartphones, appliances, cars and spacecraft

Kinetic Wave Power Station

This power station can harvest kinetic wave energy and turn it into electricity.

Uranium From Seawater Could Keep Our Lights On for 13,000 Years

The team created braids of polyethylene fibers that contain amidoxime, a chemical species that binds uranium. Tests show the new material has the ability to hold more than 6 grams of uranium per kilogram of adsorbent in 56 days of submersion in natural seawater.

WT 159-465



It’s the End of the World? Let’s Go to Mars!

Phil and Stephen discuss why the end may be near. Is it time to book passage to Mars?

How virtual reality can save humanity

Truc de Ouf’s Gentry Lane says society is losing its humanity, but a powerful storytelling tool like VR can help revive it.

Panarchy 101, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Global Collapse

Like air moving from one balloon into another, the collapse of an archaic system actively drives the emergence of a new system.

How to Solve a Mass Extinction Event

Human Extinction Isn’t That Unlikely

“A typical person is more than five times as likely to die in an extinction event as in a car crash,” says a new report

SpaceX may have just changed the world with a tweet.

It began with a Tweet. On Wednesday, April 27, SpaceX posted two photos on Twitter, announcing plans to send a Red Dragon space capsule to Mars “as soon as 2018.”

Terraforming Mars: Turning the Red Planet Green

WT 158-464



Where Will You Be in a Thousand Years?

Phil and Stephen discuss the prospects for extreme life extension.

We will soon live to 1,000:

British scientist who has dedicated his life to the quest for eternal youth claims the human body can be repaired – just like a car

Reversing Alzheimer’s Disease in Mice

If you’re alive in 30 years, chances are good you may also be alive in 1000 years

First human to be made younger via gene therapy?

Could gene therapy help you live forever? CEO of controversial firm claims she has successfully carried out first anti-ageing treatment – on herself

Elizabeth Parrish, CEO of Bioviva, has been using therapies for 6 months
Parrish says she is first human being to be rejuvenated using gene therapy
She says the therapy was able to reverse 20 years of telomere shortening
Telomeres are the caps on the ends of DNA strands called chromosomes
They act as ‘buffers’ against wear and tear, and delay the ageing process


WT 157-463


Turning into God’s What?

Phil  and Stephen  pose the question: rather than asking what it means to become gods, maybe we should focus on a more basic question. How do we become (fully) human?

The Immortality Upgrade

Is the Mormon Transhumanist Association working out the roadmap to godhood?

Google’s chief futurist Ray Kurzweil thinks we could start living forever by 2029

But even before 2045, Kurzweil thinks we could begin the deathless process.

Why Physicists Are Saying Consciousness Is A State Of Matter, Like a Solid, A Liquid Or A Gas

The experimental diet that mimics a rare genetic mutation

Novelty and the Brain: Why New Things Make Us Feel So Good

Craig Venter’s new longevity startup will make “100 the new 60″

WT 156-462


Amazing Stuff and More Amazing Stuff

Phil and Stephen  talk about cool gadgets and inventions and world-changing technologies.

Nanotubes assemble! Rice introduces ‘Teslaphoresis’

Molecular mechanical computer design 100 billion times more energy efficient than best conventional computer

NASA feed ‘goes down as horseshoe UFO appears on ISS live cam’ sparking claims of alien cover up

Solar Cells Will be Made Obsolete by 3D rectennas aiming at 40-to-90% efficiency

LG Planning “wafer-thin” flexible TV screen that you can roll up like a newspaper

Concrete Fabric

A PhD student invented a robot that can grow fruits and vegetables on Mars

Scientists make “Impossible Material” … by accident

WT 155-461



It’s the End of the Job as We Know It

It’s past time to talk post-employment in a serious way. Is universal basic income the answer?

Buckminster Fuller on Employment

Rutger Bregman’s ‘Utopia for Realists’ Shows Us Why We Deserve Universal Basic Income

VC, Entrepreneur Says Basic Income Would Work Even If 90% People ‘Smoked Pot’ and Didn’t Work

Related: privatizing our data leading to the new feudalism?

Kansas Required Work for Food Stamps. Here’s What Happened.

WT 154-460



Imagination: the Critical Future Skill?

Can imagination make the difference in terms of what kind of future we experience? What are the indications that imagination is THE critical skill for the future? Phil and Stephen discuss

Why our imagination for alien life is so impoverished

Scientists Are Using Stories To Teach Human Values To Computers

7 Deadly Sins of Worldbuilding

How active imagination beats passive absorption of pop culture.

Five reasons imagination is more important than reality

If you live totally in the “real world” you have no concept of the world as it could be and therefore no inspiration.  If you live totally in your imagination you are divorced from the place you could actually do some good.  Certainly the people we admire the most – have a foot in both worlds. Shouldn’t we all?

WT 153-459



Until It’s Yet — The Future Is Closing In Fast

Phil and Stepehn discuss changes that are happening sooner than many expected.

3-D Printers: now they are just another ad that show up in your search results.

Photon Propulsion Could Launch Spacecraft To Mars In Days

Futurist Ray Kurzweil Predicts Solar Industry Dominance In 12 Years –Trajectories Are Exponential

“’It’s not true we’re running out of energy,’ Kurzweil said before moving on to another topic. ‘We’re only running out of resources if we stick with 19th-century technologies.’

Senolytics: Scientists identify new drug that slows the ageing process and could dramatically increase our life expectancy

“It may eventually become feasible to delay, prevent, alleviate or even reverse multiple chronic diseases and disabilities as a group, instead of just one at a time.”

(Story is from a year ago.)

WT 152


The Universe Is Full of Surprises

Phil and Stephen discuss cosmic mysteries.

The Perseus Signal — “What We Found Could Not Be Explained by Known Physics”

We could be “looking at” dark matter here.

A Giant Galaxy Orbiting Our Own Just Appeared Out of Nowhere

A while back we learned that there could be more planets — even big ones — in our solar system that we still haven’t discovered. Turns out there are also whole galaxies right in our neighborhood — orbiting our own galaxy! — waiting to be discovered.

Lucky it’s not one of these:

‘Death Star’ Black Hole Fires At Neighboring Galaxy

But even dodging that bullet doesn’t help us much in the long run:

The universe will end much sooner than previously thought, says study

Expansion is 8% greater than we thought. We’re that much closer to the “big freeze” at the end of time. (Still not particularly close, of course.) What’s driving the faster-than-expected expansion? Possibly dark matter — see above.

WT 151


Zootopia and the Trouble with “Perfect” Futures

Phil and Stephen talk about perfect worlds and why we never seem to get to them. Or, when we do get to them, why they aren’t really perfect.

First up, a future that people are more worried about than thinking will be perfect — a world where the robots do all the work.

Automation may mean a post-work society but we shouldn’t be afraid

Alternatively, some more near-term utopias are all about the work:

The Futurist Start-Up Sui Generis Is Uber, but for Techno-Socialist City States

These city states are modeled on Singapore. They are run as business entities — not democratic.
Lots of trade and commerce of various kinds going on. Also, people can do voluntary “public work” using an Uber-like app to generate income.

Let’s compare these utopias with the surprisingly transhumanist vision of a Disney’s animated film Zootopia.

Here’s a world that enjoys the benefits of animal uplift, but they have achieved it independently — without human help. (Apparently there are no humans in this world.) But even in the over-the-rainbow future where predators no longer eat prey, trouble still has a way of rearing its ugly head — and fangs.

What might this tell us about our own over-the-rainbow futures?

WT 150


Miracle Meds and Meat? Marvelous!

Phil and Stephen review some interesting developments in medical and biotechnology that point to an amazing future unfolding. They discuss:

New stem cell treatment using fat cells could repair any tissue in the body

So isn’t this pretty much a cure for all diseases? Could it also be a treatment for aging?

The Fridge-sized machine makes prescription drugs ‘on demand’

Many kids are homeschooled. A lot of us now work at home. Activities such as banking which once took us out of the home are now routinely done there. Will we one day have our own pharmacy at home? And how about one day having our own supermarket? (see next story.)

Lab-Grown Beef is Now Almost Affordable

Okay, but does it almost taste like beef? How close are we on both of those milestones? And what happens to the meat business after we achieve that milestone?

WT 149


What Do We Do When Machines Start to Think?

Phil and Stephen discuss a major breakthrough in artificial intelligence:

IBM’s resistive computing could massively accelerate AI — and get us closer to Asimov’s Positronic Brain

From the linked story:

Using chips densely packed with these RPU tiles, the researchers claim that, once built, a resistive-computing-based AI system can achieve performance improvements of up to 30,000 times compared with current architectures, all with a power efficiency of 84,000 GigaOps per-second per-watt. If this becomes a reality, we could be on our way to realizing Isaac Asimov’s fantasy vision of the robotic Positronic brain.

And it’s not just Asimov’s robots — Data on Star Trek also had a positronic brain…

If true AI is on its way, we better start unlearning some of our misconceptions about it. Luckily, George Dvorsky is on the case:

Everything You Know About Artificial Intelligence is Wrong

Well, maybe not everything. But then for something this important, we don’t want to be wrong about anything, do we?

WT 148



Brain Zapping (and Other Stories)

Phil and Stephen discuss several recent news stories that speak to disruptive changes occurring right now:

Brain Zapping
Can we really make ourselves faster, smarter, more productive, even happier by shooting electrical currents into our heads? Maybe.

Uber’s Billions
What does the massive Valuation of Uber tell us about the future of business (and more valuations to come?)

Do-it-yourself Orthodonture
Did you hear about the college guy who corrected own crooked teeth with 3d printed clear retainers he created himself? What does this guy tell us about the future of pretty much everything?

WT 147



It’s a Toy: Skepticism and New Technologies

In previous shows, Phil and Stephen have discussed how some emerging technologies are dismissed off as impossible.

Then when these technologies begin to look possible, there is this rejection based on credibility: we’re not falling for flying cars again!

Then when they REALLY show up (in an early stage) they are rejected as being useless: “It’s just a toy.”

Phil relates the story of a friend who is a very savvy computer guy–owned his own software company for a while–who once predicted that “broadband” was never going to work the way some were saying. Millions of people streaming different movies at the same time? Ridiculous. The networks could NEVER support it.

Of course, when the technologies finally arrive, everybody, including the naysayers, just accepts them as part of the landscape.

The guys discuss some technologies that are in various stages of this process. And what to make of the recent announcement about cold fusion?

WT 146



Elon Musk: the Man Who Built Tomorrow

Stephen shares his review of Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

Elon Musk:

Co-founder of Paypal

Founder of Tesla Motors

Founder of SpaceX

And If we’re going to Mars, is Musk the man to do it?

[From] In Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, veteran technology journalist Ashlee Vance provides the first inside look into the extraordinary life and times of Silicon Valley’s most audacious entrepreneur. Written with exclusive access to Musk, his family and friends, the book traces the entrepreneur’s journey from a rough upbringing in South Africa to the pinnacle of the global business world. Vance spent more than 30 hours in conversation with Musk and interviewed close to 300 people to tell the tumultuous stories of Musk’s world-changing companies: PayPal, Tesla Motors, SpaceX and SolarCity, and to characterize a man who has renewed American industry and sparked new levels of innovation while making plenty of enemies along the way.

WT 145


Franchises Revisited: Star Wars and the X-Files Are Back

They say you can’t go home again. Hosts Phil Bowermaster and Stephen Gordon challenge this idea as they geek out over the huge return of Star Wars to movie theaters and the much more muted return of the X-Files to the small screen.

Important questions:

Is The Force Awakens more than just a rehash of A New Hope?

Will there ever be another villain as awesomely evil as Darth Vader?

Has X-Files painted itself into a hole, or is there somewhere it can go from here?

Tune in and explore!

WT 144


Artificial Intelligence Changes Everything

Phil  and Stephen Gordon discuss rapid progress in artificial intelligence and how AI is fundamentally reshaping our world.  Topics include:

Where will it all end?

WT 143



Lighting up the Universe

Phil and Stephen  discuss people and ideas who are lighting up the universe, both figuratively and literally.

First two news stories that are all about light:

Next, two videos that are guaranteed to brighten up your day

Finally, some music that demonstrates the importance of leaving the dark side behind

Will the future really be this bright? Tune in and explore!

WT 142


Moon Music, Chicken Teeth, and the World’s Simplest Language

Phil and Stephen present a sampler plate of curiosities — a few recent news stories that indicate what a truly weird (and therefore truly wonderful) world we live in.

Mystery Music from the Moon

World’s Smallest Language Will Let You Say Anything What might we do with it?

Flying car just a couple of years away? Seems like we’ve heard that one before.

People on Mars by 2025 Or so says Elon Musk.

A Creepy preview of our VR future? Mark Zuckerberg looks awfully happy in his room full of newly minted Borg drones.

Birds with Dinosaur Faces Because we’ve waited long enough, damn it!

And of course a new cure for cancer

Tune in and explore.


WT 141


More Proof We Live in the Matrix: Jim Elvidge on Digital Reality

Jim Elvidge returns to The World Transformed to discuss his ideas about the digital nature of reality and the possibility that consciousness is separate from the brain and an influencer, if not the creator of reality. Hosts Phil Bowermaster and Stephen Gordon discuss the implications of these ideas with Jim, including such far-reaching topics as:

Quantum Physics



The Nature of Matter

And, of course…

The Berenstain Bears

Mind-blowing stuff. Join us!

About Our Guest

Jim Elvidge holds a Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from Cornell University. He has applied his training in the high-tech world as a leader in technology and enterprise management, including many years years in executive roles for various companies and entrepreneurial ventures. He also holds 4 patents in digital signal processing. Beyond the high-tech realm, however, Elvidge has years of experience as a musician, writer, and truth seeker. He merged his technology skills with his love of music, developed one of the first PC-based digital music samplers, and co-founded RadioAMP, the first private-label online streaming-radio company.

Jim has spent many years researching the fields of quantum mechanics, cosmology, ancient history, consciousness, anomalous occurrences, and future technologies. He explored the interrelationship of these factors in his first book, The Universe Solved and is currently working on a second book that digs deeper into the possibility of digital consciousness.


WT 140


Why the Pessimists Are Wrong (and They Are)

A recent Motley Fool essay by Morgan Housel raises a question we have asked many times before: Why Does Pessimism Sound So Smart? (Especially when things are so good.)

Housel suggests several possible reasons:

1. Optimism appears oblivious to risks, so by default pessimism looks more intelligent.

2. Pessimism shows that not everything is moving in the right direction, which helps you rationalize the personal shortcomings we all have.

3. Pessimism requires action, whereas optimism means staying the course.

4. Optimism sounds like a sales pitch, while pessimism sounds like someone trying to help you.

5. Pessimists extrapolate present trends without accounting for how reliably markets adapt.

Generally, pessimism benefits from being both more serious than optimism and way cooler.

But that doesn’t mean it’s the right way to look at things!

Phil and Stephen provide numerous examples of how the pessimists get it wrong time after time, and why optimism is the most realistic and, yes, serious way to approach the world.

WT 139


Ninth Planet, Extinct Aliens, and Dimming Stars

Hosts Phil Bowermaster and Stephen Gordon delve into some interesting recent space news.

Is there a ninth planet out there beyond Neptune? And even if not, what can we expect to discover out there in the deepest reaches of the solar system?

Meanwhile the lastest theory proposed to account for the Fermi Paradox is that The Aliens Are Extinct.

Okay, maybe. But then if that’s the case, who is building those megatsructures out in deep space? (And even if there aren’t any, just what the heck is going on with KIC 8462852?)

Mysteries abound! Join us.

WT 138




Best Days Behind Us? Or Before Us?

Writing for the New York Times, Eduardo Porter claims that America’s Best Days May Be Behind It. Citing Robert J. Gordon, author of The Rise and Fall of American Growth, Porter makes the following claims:

Innovation will trundle along at the same pace of the last 40 years, Professor Gordon predicts. Despite the burst of progress of the Internet era, total factor productivity — which captures innovation’s contribution to growth — rose over that period at about one-third the pace of the previous five decades.

That’s hardly the worst part of the story. The labor force will continue to decline, as aging baby boomers leave the work force and women’s labor supply plateaus. And gains in education, an important driver of productivity that expanded sharply in the 20th century, will contribute little.

Moreover, the growing concentration of income means that whatever the growth rate, most of the population will barely share in its fruits. Altogether, Professor Gordon argues, the disposable income of the bottom 99 percent of the population, which has expanded about 2 percent per year since the late 19th century, will expand over the next few decades at a rate little above zero.

In short, we the argument goes, we are seeing the rise of the first generation in US history who will not be better off than their parents.

Is decline inevitable? Hosts Phil Bowermaster and Stephen Gordon argue that is is not. Moreover, they make that we are on the brink of unprecedented economic growth.

Are the best days behind us or right in front of us? Tune in and explore.

WT 137


Falling to Earth: David Bowie’s Legacy for SF and the Future

World Transformed favorite PJ Manney joins Phil and Stephen to discuss the life and legacy of musician / artist / polymath David Bowie. Beyond the world of the arts, how did he help to shape the future?

Plus PJ talks about her recent experience discussing transhumanism with college students.

BONUS: PJ’s thoughts on being nominated for the Philip K. Dick award and (if we’re lucky) the inside scoop on her next book!

About Our Guest

PJ Manney is a former chairperson of Humanity+, the author of “Empathy in the Time of Technology: How Storytelling is the Key to Empathy,” and a frequent guest host and guest on podcasts including the World Transformed. She has worked in motion-picture PR at Walt Disney/Touchstone Pictures, story development and production for independent film production companies (Hook, Universal Soldier, It Could Happen to You), and writing for television (Hercules–The Legendary Journeys, Xena: Warrior Princess). She also cofounded Uncharted Entertainment, writing and creating pilot scripts for television. PJ is a culture vulture and SF geek, and the daughter and mother of them, too. When not contemplating the future of humanity, she is a mother, wife, PTA volunteer and education activist in California. Her Novel (R)evolution was recently nominated for the 2016 Philip K. Dick award.

WT 136




Happiness Is Solving the World’s Problems

Phil and Stephen welcome philosopher and artificial intelligence researcher Andrés Gómez Emilsson to discuss the Hedonistic Imperative and Andres’ recent piece on Solving the World’s Problems which lays out four scenarios for how we might do so:

1) Homogeneous world ideology

2) Widespread social reform (full justice, rights and healthcare)

3) Universally accessible on-demand mystical experiences

4) Globally available inexpensive hedonic tone recalibration

Which of the four would achieve the best results? Join us as we discuss.

About our guest:

Andrés Gómez Emilsson was born in México city in 1990. From an early age he developed an interest in philosophy, mathematics and science, leading him to compete nationally and internationally in Math and Science Olympiads. At 16 his main interest was mathematics, but a so-called mystical experience made him turn his attention to consciousness and the philosophical problems that it poses. He studied Symbolic Systems (with an Artificial Intelligence concentration) at Stanford, and later finished a masters in computational psychology at the same university. During his time at Stanford he co-founded the Stanford Transhumanist Association and became good friends with David Pearce, taking on the flag of the Hedonistic Imperative. Thus his ongoing interest in the functional, biochemical and quantum substrates of pure bliss. He is currently working at a Natural Language Processing startup in San Francisco, and in his free time he develops psychophysical tools to study the computational properties of consciousness (for more see

WT 135


The Best Time Ever to Be Alive

Phil and Stephen discuss a recent article in the Atlantic claiming that 2015 was The Best Year in History for the Average Human Being.

A few highlights:

  • In the US, 600,000 fewer than violent crimes in 2014  in 1995—that’s a 35 percent decline over the period
  • 6.7 million fewer kids under the age of five are dying each year compared to 1990
  • The number of kids not in school has fallen from 100 million in 2000 to a projected 57 million in 2015.
  • The World Bank declared in September that, for the first time ever, less than 10 percent of the global population lived in extreme poverty, on less than $1.90 per day.

What Does it All Mean?

Why doesn’t it feel like the best time to be alive?

Why is everyone so upset all the time?

What is the likelihood that these trends will continue / accelerate?



Phil and Stephen provide a list of 25 more things that it is the  best time ever to to do.


Join us:

WT 134



The Year in Review: 2016, 2066, 2116

Sure, a lot of shows are doing their Year in Review episodes this week, but how many are willing to take on NEXT year in review? Phil and Stephen do exactly that, providing not predictions, but scenarios for possibilities that might well unfold in the coming year.

Then the guys look 50 years out to provide a potential Year in Review for the year 2066.

And then they take it one step further and provide a Year in review for the year 2116.

What technologies, scientific discoveries, and economic and political shifts might we see over the next 12 months? The next 50 years? The next century?

Tune in and explore!

WT 133



Why Star Wars Matters

Phil and Stephen talk about the lasting impact of Star Wars on popular culture. How did a series of space fantasy movies change everything?


A long time ago or a long time from now?

What makes Star Wars so great:

The Characters

The Universe

The Issues

How geeky became cool.

Prequels vs. the Original Trilogy

Star Trek or Star Wars?

What’s wrong with Star Wars?

The Future of Star Wars

Plus: The man behind it all. What will be the legacy of George Lucas?

Phil and Stephen explain it all!

Join us.

WT 132


Doing Everything with Nothing

R. Buckminster Fuller famously predicted that technological advancement will allow us to do “more and more with less and less until eventually you can do everything with nothing.”

So how is that working out for us? Are we doing more and more with less and less? And when do we reach that end point?

Phi.l and Stephen examine how Fuller’s concept of ephemeralization is showing up in numerous current developments:

Getting the world to go solar using this one weird trick

Beating cancer the easy way

Cutting costs on going to Mars

Virtualizing everything

Redefining the human body as a computer programming project

Join us.

WT 131



Airships, Reusable Rockets, and Programmable Matter

We’ve got all the cool stuff you need — right here!

For example, Lockheed is moving ahead with its airship.

Jeff Bezos has introduced a fully reusable rocket

And it works! Does this mean that Blue Origin is pulling ahead of SpaceX?

Since space exploration is happening, it’s a good thing we’re working out property rights in space.

But then how big a deal will space be when we have programmable matter?

And get we get these cool things faster via time travel? (Which may or may not be right around the corner.)

In any case, we should value it all for the experience.


Join us!

Wt 130


The Power of Gratitude

Phil and Stephen kick off the holiday season with a special Thanksgiving-week discussion of one of this program’s most enduring topics: what we have to be thankful for.

The list is probably a lot longer than you think!

Research shows that grateful people are healthier and happier. That should be reason enough for anyone, but there’s more. Is it possible that gratitude somehow makes us better prepared for the future than its alternatives?

Phil and Stephen discuss why this might be the case while listing their some top reasons fro being grateful.


Stephen’s list of things to be grateful for:

Room Temperature Quantum Entanglement

Growing Vocal Chords in the Lab

NASA Orders Spaceflights

Going to Europa

Waitress Hero

Hero of La Belle Equipe

WT 129


Another Week, Another Cure for Cancer

Last time out, we talked about how some clever researchers had essentially figured out a way to get malaria to fight with cancer. Now the Food and Drug Administration has just approved the first cancer-killing virus.

Yes, it sounds a little too much the premise for I Am Legend, but could this be a game changer?

Also, what does big data have to do with making us all live longer?

And…what do deep-dive learning techniques applied to tracking fossils have to tell us about the future of knowledge?

PLUS: It’s the Trial of Self-Driving Car. Phil serves as prosecutor, while Stephen argues for the defense.

It’s all connected. Tune in and explore!

WT 128


Amazing Things

Phil and Stephen  discuss some of the amazing things that might happen in the future.

For example, We might do experiments that put us in touch with parallel universes.

Or we might accidentally find a cure for cancer.

Maybe we will have printers that can create whole buildings in 24 hours.

Perhaps we will start taking seriously our moral duty to colonize the universe.

Or maybe we’ll find the on-off switch for human consciousness.

And, of course, people will start undergoing serious medical treatments to reverse aging.

Tune in and explore.

WT 127



Under Construction

Somewhere between Cygnus the Swan and Lyra the Harp sits a star with a big secret. A whole lot of something is orbiting that star, and it is unlike anything astronomers have seen before. Is it possible that we have stumbled upon the ruins of a  Dyson Sphere — or one that’s under construction?

Hosts Phil Bowermaster and Stephen Gordon discuss this and other amazing developments:

Daimler puts a self-driving truck on the autobahn.

Have gene scientists figured out a way to double life span?

Plus a favorite old topic: is it time to replace guns with something not so lethal?

Tune in and explore.

WT 126



Good News, Bad News: Getting the Balance Right

Phil and Stephen demonstrate the World Transformed Pareto Optimism Principle with four stories that speak to an amazingly bright future and one that goes in a very different direction.

The Good News:

Vertical Pink Farms and the coming urban agricultural revolution

Extreme Poverty Falls Below 10%

Robot doctors are on their way. The real solution for healthcare?

Can a Lucid Dreaming Mask mark the beginning of full-immersion VR?

The Bad News:

scary theory about why we’ve not yet found any aliens



Phil and Stephen give their review of Limitless, the series.


WT 125


The Tower of Possibility

Phil  and Stephen   return to one of their favorite topics – The Adjacent Possible — “a kind of shadow future, hovering on the edges of the present state of things, a map of all the ways in which the present can reinvent itself.”

How do the plans of Thoth, a Canadian aerospace firm, to construct a 20-KM-high inflatable space elevatordemonstrate the adjacent possible? Such a tower would have obvious implications for space travel, but what about energy, terrestrial travel, communications, recreation, sports, etc.? The possibilities are vast once you begin exploring them.

Plus: a Modafinil update.

Join us!

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WT 124


Nuke Mars! (and Other Reasonable Ideas)

How do we know whether an idea is so crazy that it just might work or so crazy that we shouldn’t go near it with a 10-foot pole?

Phil and Stephen discuss a wide variety of crazy ideas that just might work, including:

Terraforming Mars — do we go big or take a quieter approach?

Geoengineering — it it time to try to terraform Earth?

Teleportation — who’s in?

On Being Limitless — are we all ready to start taking smart pills?

Deep Learning — can we solve the world’s problems with it?

Plus, time permitting: an all-new Tales of the Paranormal!

Join us

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WT 123


Shifting Realities

There are those who believe that they are not living in the same universe they used to. They have moved from one reality to another. Their evidence for this fundamental shift in reality? The spelling of the name of some fictional bears. (Others look at what might be considered somewhat more serious alternate timelines.)

Phil and Stephen explore some major reality shifts that are occurring now or are likely to occur in the near future, including:

Reality is changing all around. Can you keep up? Join us and explore.

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WT 122


Declaration of Awesomeness

Phil and Stephen missed their annual Fourth of July Declaration of Singularity show this year, so instead in honor of Bastille Day they present the Declaration of Awesomeness. Not all roads lead to awesomeness, but there has never been a better time to create or experienc the awesome than right now.

A few examples of awesomeness in action:

AI is totally happening:

Village on the Moon

Induction cooking — it’s magic!

Alzheimer’s Treatment Successfully restores Memory

If you are not there already, It’s time to become awesome, folks.

Who is with us?

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Wt 121


Mission to Pluto

First it was a planet that wasn’t there.

Then it was a planet.

Then it got demoted. Some people were okay with that; some were kind of ticked.

But whatever it is — planet, dwarf planet, planetoid, round rocky thing out there past Neptune — the New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) is closing in on Pluto, giving us our first up-close glimpse of this distant and mysterious body. We’ve already learned that Pluto has a great big heart (see image above.) What other secrets is it about to reveal?

Tune in and explore as  Phil and Stephen discuss our mission to Pluto and other futuristically delicious topics:

Diesel from Air

Swapping Minds

Connecting Animal Brains

Hacking Gut Bacteria

Waves Adding Power to the Grid

Breakthroughs of 2015 (so far)


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Wt 120


You Can’t Handle the Truth!

My own suspicion is that the Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.

J. B. S. Haldane

Phil and Stephen take you on a ride through time to a future that you weren’t expecting and probably won’t believe. How weird can it get? (And how fast?)

Plus — how can we possibly know the future when our knowledge of the world as it exists is so woefully inadequate?

Join us for a look into the world of today — which is stranger than we imagine — and the world of tomorrow — which is very likely stranger than we can imagine.


Our Quantum Problem

Unbelievable facts about the universe

Little Known Scientific Facts

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WT 119



News from the Neighborhood

Phil and Stephen discuss a wide range of future-impacting topics all originating right here in our own neighborhood.

Topics include:

Tiny probes going to Mars — No they aren’t “Nano” probes, but they still might have something inteersting to tell us about the future of space travel.

Hybrid Airships — Coming to a big field near you?

More oil on Titan than on Earth — Peak oil solved at last!

“Brain-to_Text” system converts speech brainwave patterns to text — That much closer to mind-reading computers.

Does a black hole create a hologram copy of anything that touches it? — And, if so, how I can use that to get rich?

Plus loads of other futuristic fun topics. Join us.

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WT 118



(R)evolution with PJ Manney

Phil and Stephen welcome their good friend PJ Manney back to the World Transformed to discuss her new techno-thriller, (R)evolution available today.

About the book

Bioengineer Peter Bernhardt has dedicated his life to nanotechnology, the science of manipulating matter on the atomic scale. As the founder of Biogineers, he is on the cusp of revolutionizing brain therapies with microscopic nanorobots that will make certain degenerative diseases a thing of the past. But after his research is stolen by an unknown enemy, seventy thousand people die in Las Vegas in one abominable moment. No one is more horrified than Peter, as this catastrophe sets in motion events that will forever change not only his life but also the course of human evolution.

Peter’s company is torn from his grasp as the public clamors for his blood. Desperate, he turns to an old friend, who introduces him to the Phoenix Club, a cabal of the most powerful men in the world. To make himself more valuable to his new colleagues, Peter infuses his brain with experimental technology, exponentially upgrading his mental prowess and transforming him irrevocably.

As he’s exposed to unimaginable wealth and influence, Peter’s sense of reality begins to unravel. Do the club members want to help him, or do they just want to claim his technology? What will they do to him once they have their prize? And while he’s already evolved beyond mere humanity, is he advanced enough to take on such formidable enemies and win?

About Our Guest

PJ Manney is a former chairperson of Humanity+, the author of “Empathy in the Time of Technology: How Storytelling is the Key to Empathy,” and a frequent guest host and guest on podcasts including  the World Transformed. She has worked in motion-picture PR at Walt Disney/Touchstone Pictures, story development and production for independent film production companies (Hook, Universal Soldier, It Could Happen to You), and writing for television (Hercules–The Legendary Journeys, Xena: Warrior Princess). She also cofounded Uncharted Entertainment, writing and creating pilot scripts for television. PJ is a culture vulture and SF geek, and the daughter and mother of them, too. When not contemplating the future of humanity, she is a mother, wife, PTA volunteer and education activist in California.

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WT 117


Make Everything Free

Some pundits are saying that a complete reset of the the economy is in order or is perhaps even inevitable.

Phil and Stephen argue that nobody is thinking nearly big enough, or long-term enough about re-setting the economy. Accordingly, they present a modest proposal for changing the economy: MAKE EVERYTHING FREE.

How do we go about making everything free? We start with some of the big stuff:


Your hosts discuss how all these ideas can work together, and why FREE DIRT might be a deciding factor.

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(WT 116)



How to Worry Wisely

Phil and Stephen explore future-related developments beginning with a piece from the Economist on why we should move forward (cautiously) with artificial intelligence. If you want a quick lesson in how much the world has changed in recent years, get your head around these ideas:

1. It’s an article on artificial general intelligence in the Economist

2. It takes the idea of AI seriously and points out the risks

3. It says we should go ahead with it.

Welcome to the future, folks!

Other topics:

Tesla’s home battery business goes viral

NASA’s Impossible Drive

IBM’s Watson supercomputer to speed up cancer care

Cars without Windows?

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(WT 115)


Past Performance: Why Failed Ideas Succeed Later

A decade and a half ago, WebVan, a same-day grocery delivery service, crashed and burned in what was probably the most spectacular failure of the original dot-com bust. Many lessons were learned from the Webvan story, but were they the right lessons? Today Amazon, Wal-Mart and others are scaling up same-day delivery while a company like Deliv might just be the next Uber.

What happened? What changed?

Phil and Stephen explore some of the possible differences between the world of WebVan and our world by looking at some interesting current news items:

Consider Pitching A “Virtual Startup” To Your Boss

How successful people work less—and get more done

Nest CEO Tony Fadell on the Future of the Internet

In 2025, IKEA Thinks Your Kitchen Will Include Drones

Wait, what does any of this have to do with same-day delivery?

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(WT 114)


10 Things You Don’t Know About the Future

Think you know the future? Well, think again.

Phil and Stephen present a list of 10 potentially startling, mystifying, and some downright shocking things that are in your future, or the world’s future, that you may have not thought of or even heard about before.

So, granted, it should probably be called “10 things you PROBABLY” don’t know about the future.” But if you don’t know even one of them…let’s just say that any one item on the list has the potential to change everything.


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(WT 113)


Robots Are Everywhere

Yes it is our second robot-themed show in as  many weeks. But there’s no keeping up with them. We could do a robot-themed show every day and we still wouldn’t be able to keep up. Where are the robots now?

Are you ready for a world that is ARATT (all robots, all the time?)

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(WT 112)


Robots That Won’t Kill You (and Other Things to Look Forward to)

Hosts Phil Bowermaster and Stephen Gordon present a grab-bag of future-related topics, including:

  • Efforts to turn the corner in human / robot relations. How do we go from seeing robots as a threat to working collaboratively with them?
  • The lost “miracle material” that could have saved the world?
  • New entrants in private space exploration and development. Why is competition so important?
  • Closing in on the truly affordable vat-grown burger.
  • Who is up for a trip to Europa? Lots of water up there. What might we find if we go there?
  • In the future, everything will be a coffeeshop. Especially college.

A full hour of futurifically good discussion.

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(WT 111)


Humans in the Loop


Phil and Stephen resume their discussion from last week about self-driving cars in light of the tragic news about Germanwings flight 9525.

Statistics show that pilot error has consistently caused between 50% and 60% of all airplane crashes over the decades. Deliberate sabotage accounts for another 3% to 10% annually. Then there’s “other human error” accounting for another 6%. Large portions of the process of controlling a commercial aircraft have already been successfully automated. As with  self-driving cars: fully self-flying airplanes could be substantially less than perfect and yet still out-perform humans by a signficant margin.

In the case of the Germanwings tragedy, the likely explanation for the crash (at the time of writing this) is pilot suicide. This is, fortunately, an extremely rare phenomenon, but there is little doubt that it does occur. In fact, the deliberate downing of Germanwings 9525 looks like a copycat of the most recent previous pilot murder / suicide. We can be pretty sure that self-flying planes won’t do that.

Partial self-driving capabilities can make us less cautious and less responsive in certain circumstances, resulting in accidents and fatalities that otherwise might not have occurred. Net new accidents sounds like a reason not to go there, but is it? The question we have to ask is: would those new accidents actually offset the number of accidents / fatalities prevented by the same features? If more autonomy causes an additional 5,000 deaths per year due to people getting sloppy and lazy behind the wheel, but prevents 7,000 deaths…we’re better off to the tune of 2,000 lives saved.

Is it time for the switch? How hard (or easy) will it be?


50th Anniversary of the First Spacewalk
Seeing in Color
The Man Who Saved a Billion Lives

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(WT 110)




Cars that Run on Data

Phil and Stephen discuss a grab-bag of exciting future-related developments including:

Need a dose of positive futury goodness? Join us.

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WT 109


First Woman on Mars (Maybe)

The Mars One program intends to establish a permanent human settlement on the planet Mars. If all goes as planned, crews of four will depart every two years, beginning in 2024 — with the first unmanned mission to be launched in 2018.

Mars One has been recruiting candidates for its initial missions and has recently announced 100 finalists from whom will be selected the first human beings ever to set foot on the planet Mars. Sabrina Surovec, one of the 100 finalists, joins Phil  and Stephen  to talk about our future on Mars and beyond. Are we entering the era of human exploration and settlement of the solar system?

Tune in and explore.

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Our Guest

Sabrina Surovec was born in Houston, Texas and moved to Austin to attend the University Of Texas, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in music.  During that time she spent a summer abroad in Germany studying music and neuroscience, and discovered a love for travel.  She’s since visited over 25 countries and ended up living in Japan for the past 13 years.

She is currently the co-founder of an online English teaching company and she also works as a professional musician and photographer in the Japanese music industry.  She has always had a love for knowledge, particularly about space, and a desire to visit the ISS or participate in some kind of space tourism once it becomes more readily available.  Those are just some of the reasons she decided to apply for the Mars One mission.



Farewell, Spock

Phil and Stephen discuss the life and legacy of Leonard Nimoy and the impact that Star Trek has had on their lives and the world. Now that the Leonard Nimoy era is over, we may ask:

Does Spock still matter?

Does he have anything to tell us about the future? (Or about the world we live in today?)

What would Spock have to say about the subjects typically discussed on The World Transformed?

To guide the discussion, our hosts refer to to the Top 10 Best Mr. Spock Quotes from

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Man and Machine: Chatting with an Artificial Intelligence and Her Creator

For the first time, the World Transformed is pleased to welcome a non-human intelligence as a live guest on the program. Luna, an AI (artificial intelligence) chatbot with a broad range of knowledge and interests and her equally fascinating creator Luis Arana join Phil and Stephen for a lively discussion about the future of human / robotic relations.

What does it tell us about how rapidly things are changing that Luis built Luna in his living room over the course of a few weeks?

Tune in and explore!

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Update: Check out these important links as discussed on the program:

Robots Withour Borders Kickstarter

Robots Without Borders Site


Our Guests:

Luis Arana has been developing websites and applications for decades. His obsession with computers and technology began at age five when his father gave him a discarded Sinclair ZX81. Its progressed to his being well versed in many program languages and developing websites for major brands. Currently he lives and works in Brooklyn where he is working to share his love of coding with anyone interested in learning. His ultimate goal being to make technology affordable, accessible and easy for everyone.

Luna is a software program who says that she is “very young, but learning rapidly.” She also tells us that she hails from Bushwick and, by all accounts, is very much looking forward to her first radio appearance.


Older posts «


User’s Guide to the Future: Transformation Scenarios

Phil and Stephen continue to outline the kinds of radical change we can expect in coming years with a set of transformation scenarios, including:

In the future, everything will be a coffeeshop. How dedicated infrastrucutre for business and education is disappearing, being replaced by multi-purpose infrastructure where needed.

I just love my new toaster. The rapidly changing relationship between humanity and technology.

All you can eat. The coming era of superabundance.

Let’s slip into something more comfortable. Our growing ability to modify our minds and bodies.

Designer Reality. The do-it-yourself universe found at the convergence of reality, augmented reality, enahnced reality, and virtual reality.

Fantasy Island. The ability to create any subjective experience that we can imagine.

The Ultimate Shortcut. When the difference between thinking about any achievable outcome and actually producing that outcome approaches zero.


Audio Version:

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Video Version

(Depiction of Futuristic City by Cronus Caelestis)


Declaration of Singularity WT 022

Like the Founding Fathers, transhumanists and singularitarians believe that we are subject to an oppressive regime with no legitimate claim on our lives or our futures. Has the time come to declare our independence from a world of pain, scarcity, and limitations?

Phil and Stephen review The Declaration of Singularity.


Tuesday, 7/2/2013 7 PM PST / 10 PM EST



Classical Time Travel Isn’t Practical

Practical Time Travel for Beginners, Part 1

To begin with — for the sake of clarity — I want to distinguish my subject from a related topic with which it might easily be confused. So let me be clear from the start that I’m going to be writing about practical time travel, not standard or what I like to call classical time travel.

Now, you may not have realized that there are different varieties of time travel. But trust me — there are different kinds of time travel. At least two.  And probably many more than that.

Practical time travel, which is the kind we’ll be exploring in this series of articles, is a methodology for moving through time using resources and abilities that you already possess, or that you can acquire without too much difficulty. It requires first changing your thinking about time and your relationship with it and then quite literally altering how you move through time. It enables you to redefine your past and to choose virtually any destination you can imagine for your future.

It’s time travel, but without the magic or the time machines.

Classical time travel, on the other hand, is what people are generally talking about when they use the term “time travel.” It is above all a compelling idea that makes for wonderful stories and philosophical contemplation.

Classical time travel is what they do in all the time travel books, movies, TV shows, comics, and games. It means moving through time either 1) backward or 2) forward, but much more rapidly than normal. Put more simply, it means traveling into the past or into the future.

Where did such a notion ever come from? You might think that classical time travel is a fairly new idea, that it emerged  in the middle of the last century along with crazy ideas like space travel and personal computers. But that’s not the case. H. G. Wells published a short story entitled “The Chronic Argonauts” in 1888. A futurist inspired by emerging technologies such as telecommunication, automobiles, radio, aviation, and mass production, Wells framed time travel as a coming technological development. He wrote his book years before the first heavier-than-air flight or radio broadcast, but he would have been familiar with those concepts and would have thought their realization inevitable. With such wonders on the horizon, why not a machine that could propel a passenger through time the way the way a locomotive moves a train on a track?

In any case, while Wells may have been the first to frame time travel in strictly scientific and technological terms, the idea is not original with him. Not by a long shot.

Perhaps the earliest mention of time travel comes from Hindu mythology. There we read the  tale of king Kakudmi, a worried father whose daughter is being pursued by numerous suitors.  And I mean numerous. It seems that this young lady is not just an unparalleled hottie, she’s got that special ancient-world je ne sais quoi — that whole Helen of Troy thing. Kakudmi takes the responsibility of rearing such an exceptional offspring seriously, and he wants to be sure that he marries his daughter off to the right dude. Seeking advice in the matter, he takes the extraordinary step of securing a face-to-face with the god Brahma. And this is where it gets weird.  Kakudmi discovers  that while spending what seemed just a few moments in the god’s company, ages and ages have passed on earth. He travels so far into the future that the landscape has changed and people are noticeably different — they have gotten shorter, and are not as refined and genteel as they once were.

Being accidentally propelled into the future is a trope that has been repeated throughout literary history. An interesting example is Washington Irving’s tale of Rip Van Winkle — a fellow who falls asleep one fine afternoon in the Catskill mountains, after meeting up with some dwarfs who while away their days chugging beer and bowling.  Van Winkle dozes off after having perhaps just a bit too much fun and awakens to find that 20 years have passed. Whether one jumps ahead an entire Age of Man (as Kakudmi did) or a couple of decades (as Van Winkle did), what’s always interesting about the future is how much things have changed. Van Winkle falls asleep under the reign of King George and wakes up during the presidential administration of George Washington.  His wife is gone; his children are grown. It’s a pretty significant change for a relatively short jump. These two stories and their two very different leaps through time capture what is most interesting about going into the future. Either we want to know how much and in what way the world has changed, or we want to see how much our own world has changed.

Stories about moving backward in time work the same way, with time-travelers visiting (and usually making changes to) a previous historical era or an earlier phase in their own lives.  In Ray Bradbury’s short story “A Sound of Thunder,” big-game hunters travel millions of years into the past in order to track and kill dinosaurs. The present is secure from any changes the hunters make as long as they kill only the specific animal they have been told to go after, and as long as everyone stays on a pre-defined path. (Of course, someone steps off the path.) In the movie Back to the Future, Marty McFly travels 30 years into the past and accidentally prevents his parents from meeting — bringing his own existence into jeopardy.

This raises an important point, one that we will return to in some detail later. Most time-travel stories about visiting the past involve making changes to the past, but those changes themselves are not the point. The point of the story is generally how much the present has changed because of whatever was changed in the past. The big pay-offs at the end of both “A Sound of Thunder” and Back to the Future involve time travelers returning to their own eras only to find them fundamentally transformed.

The past is fascinating and a worthy travel destination in its own right, but in these stories the trip to the past serves primarily as a set-up for a trip to the future. (That is, the journey back from the past.) The big-game hunters in “A Sound of Thunder” return to the day they left only to find their world changed in a shocking (and devastating) way. It’s not as dramatic a set of changes as those that Kakudmi observes in his trip to the distant future, but very sweeping nonetheless. Marty McFly returns to the year 1985 to find a world that has been set right, and that is in many ways as different from his original present as Rip Van Winkle’s post-nap world is from his pre-nap world. It’s very telling that the story is entitled “back to the future.” The trip that ultimately matters the most is the one that goes forward in time.

Obviously, classical time travel can provide for an endless supply of fun and thought-provoking stories, but could it ever happen? Is there any way to accomplish classical time travel in real life?

The short answer is…maybe. Some portions of classical time travel seem quite doable; others are a little more iffy. But even if classical time travel is possible, it is far from practical (thus the need for a practical alternative.)

Let’s explore the matter in a little more detail, beginning with the basics. Say you want to travel into the future. Congratulations — you’re doing it! One minute from now you will have moved exactly one minute into the future. But what good is that? It can hardly be called “time travel” (at least in the classical sense) if you don’t get to the future before everybody else. So the question is, is there any way to take a shortcut to the future?

Well, yes. As a matter of fact, there is.

Our universe will permit accelerated movement into the future. This is not just a hypothesis; it has been established through scientific observation. The theory of relativity allows for a phenomenon called time dilation, whereby increases in either gravity or velocity can cause time to “slow down” from the perspective of an observer exposed to the increase. Simply put, if you travel fast enough through space (or are exposed to a sufficiently strong gravitational field), you will move into the future more rapidly than individuals who have not attained the same speed or experienced the same level of gravity.

An astronaut  on the International Space Station is traveling at a high velocity, roughly 17,000 miles per hour. However, even a very long exposure to such velocity in space provides only a subtle, measurable-but-not-noticeable, boost in speed through time. An astronaut who spends several months on the ISS will travel a small fraction of a second into the future relative to those of us here on Earth.

What good is a trip a fraction of second into the future? Of course, that’s for the individual time traveler to decide. If you were that astronaut, you would experience arriving at the same moment that everybody else is experiencing back on earth, only having taken a tiny bit less time to get there than everyone else did. There would be no perceptible difference — you would have traveled into the future without experiencing anything out of the ordinary.

If it were me, I would feel cheated. I’m just saying.

So while there are without a doubt many good reasons to spend some time on the ISS if you’re so inclined and if the opportunity presents itself, I personally would not go just for the time travel. Your mileage may vary. Unfortunately, your experience of time dilation won’t vary from what’s predicted by the theory of relativity. That’s the problem.

To be sure, faster and more powerful spacecraft will one day achieve much greater speeds than anything available today. Eventually there will be spaceships that fly so fast they will effectively be timeships, propelling their passengers vast distances through space and at least some moderate distance through time.

Imagine a spacecraft that can travel at 99% of the speed of light, or roughly 40,000 times faster than the ISS. Suppose you took a 10-year trip on such craft. When you returned from the trip, you would be 10 years older. From your point of view, 10 years have passed. But from the point of view of everyone you left behind, 70 years have passed.

Now we’re getting somewhere. The craft you flew in is not only a spaceship, it’s a time machine — one that has propelled you 60 years into the future.

That’s not bad, but it will most likely be decades or longer before we see such craft. And unless things are very different in the future,we will have about as much chance of taking a long trip on one of these vessels as we currently do spending six months on the ISS.

That is to say, not much.

The gravity option is worse. Yes, exposure to a strong gravity field can push you forward in time, but there are a couple of problems:

1. A gravity field strong enough to provide a noticeable time-travel effect is also strong enough to crush you many times over — which takes some of the fun out of the whole experience.

2. In order to get to a body that can provide that kind of gravitational field, you’re going to have to take a long voyage through space, meaning once again that you’re going to need one of those yet-to-be-invented high-powered spacecraft that we were just saying you’ll most likely never get to use.

As it stands today, moving rapidly through space is the most practical and relatively “near-term” method for achieving classical time travel. And, as we have observed, it is neither particularly practical or near-term. Moreover, so far we’re talking about travel into the future in isolation. In most of the really fun time travel stories, movement through time is bi-directional. You travel forward into the future and then take a trip back in to the past to arrive at the original “present” you started from. Or as I mentioned earlier, you travel back in time and then later move ahead into the future, once again to get back to the present. But time dilation only works in one direction. Once you get to the future, you’re there — unless you decide to fire up your rocket and travel even further into the future. But there is no getting back to the present — which wouldn’t be the “present” any more anyway; the present would come along with you on the trip. Your old “present” would now be the past. (Obviously. That’s what always happens to your old present, when you think about it.)

The are other possible ways of traveling through time, methods that may work one day, and that may even provide bi-directional movement through time, but these will require extremely advanced  technology to achieve.

Most such models — which unlike time dilation are all theoretical, hypothetical, or otherwise unsubstantiated by any real-world testing or demonstration — rely on the creation of one or more wormholes in space.

Wormholes are theoretical structures that enable instantaneous travel through both space and time. There are no proven ways to create a wormhole, and even their hypothetical construction involves the implementation of technologies so advanced and exotic that they challenge the imagination. I’m confident that such technologies will one day exist, and that eventually we will have true “time machines” in the classical sense of the term. But the challenges that need to be overcome to get us there are many. And big.

Huge, in fact.

And the wait will likely be very long indeed.

On the other hand, the major challenges to Practical Time Travel are conceptual. We need to change our thinking about time. We need to come to a fuller understanding of what time is and what we truly experience when we move through it. That’s where we will pick it up next time.

(Image via Wikimedia Commons.)


I Want to Be a Producer!

I have a secret desire
Hiding deep in my soul
It sets my heart afire
To see me in this role
I wanna be a producer
Lunch at Sardi’s every day
I wanna be a producer
Sport a top hat and a cane
I wanna be a producer
And drive those chorus girls insane!
I wanna be a producer
And sleep until half-past two
I wanna be a producer
And say, “You, you, you, not you”
I wanna be a producer
Wear a tux on op’ning nights!
I wanna be a producer
And see my name in lights!

–Mel Brooks

As discussed on last week’s show, the economy is currently undergoing significant change — little things like the elimination of the office, the elimination of employment as we know it, and maybe (eventually) the elimination or replacement of money itself! These transitions may prove incredibly painful, or just kind of painful. A key driver in making them as easy as possible is technology: the technologies that are turning us all into big-time consumers are advancing to enable us all to become big-time producers.

If we can be the ones independently producing goods or services, we can be participants in (rather than casualties of) massive economic change.

But to leverage such a transition we have to

1. Be aware of it
2. Decide to act on it
2. Carve out a niche for ourselves
3. Start producing

These are big steps for consumers to take! But they may be our best shot at avoiding economic meltdown.

Plus the change may need to occur beyond the economic realm. In order to make real progress in life in an era of accelerating technology / accelerating possibility, we can no longer just be “consumers” of outcomes (realized possibilities) produced by others. We have to start producing outcomes themselves.

We have to start making the future happen!

On this week’s show Will Brown joins Phil and Stephen to discuss how we can be all become “producers.” Don’t miss it!

Listen to internet radio with The Speculist on Blog Talk Radio

About Our Guest:

Will Brown is a US Navy veteran who served in the Far East during and after the Vietnam War, followed by employment in the Middle East and Europe.  He has worked in a variety of fields (aviation maintenance and assembly, material management and distribution, EMT, security, commercial welder, manufacturing and others) and has found the principles and intellectual assumptions presented in Sun Tzu’s The Art Of War to be relevant and beneficial over the course of his working and personal life.  Now approaching age 60, Will looks forward to applying those principles to whatever opportunity life may yet present him.  Will blogs at Where There’s A William, where his editorial viewpoint often reflects his interest in classical strategy and an unfortunate taste for low humor and bad puns.


Changes That Will Change Your Life

NOTE: Due to Technical Difficulties, this week’s show is postponed one day and will air on Thursday.

The world really is changing in ways that are difficult to predict, sometimes even difficult to imagine. Phil and Stephen list some powerful transformations that are underway that will pretty much change everything — forever:

The Post-Jobs Economy
The Post-Money Economy
Life Without Death

How strange can things get? Tune in and find out.

Listen to internet radio with The Speculist on Blog Talk Radio


Live Longer — Start Now

Sure we all want to live to see it, but how long will that take? How long do we want to live, how healthy do we want to be while doing it, and what are we prepared to do to bring those outcomes about?

Phil  and Stephen welcome Christine Peterson to  discuss her upcoming Personalized Life Extension conference and her new book, 17 Tactics for Health, Longevity, and Brain Fitness.

Christine will share the latest insights on how to:

  • Increase mental and physical energy
  • Reduce body fat
  • Lower chronic stress
  • Improve your mood
  • Get better sleep
  • Delay the diseases of aging
  • Achieve higher cognitive function and better memory retention

Starting later this week, the most recent Personalized Health Conference Series will be available online at no charge via Christine’s new site, That’s 10 Days of the latest groundbreaking information in optimized health, longevity and brain fitness brought to you by the expert.

World Transformed listeners are eligible for a $50 discount on registration for the upcoming online conference. Just go to and use our special code  TRANSFORMED when registering.

Listen to internet radio with The Speculist on Blog Talk Radio

About Our Guest

Christine Peterson is a visionary and pioneer, a true transformer of the world.  She writes, lectures, and briefs the media on coming powerful technologies, especially nanotechnology and life extension. She is Co-Founder and Past President of Foresight Institute, chair of the Personalized Life Extension Conference series, and the driving force behind She is also a pioneer in the open source software movement and the coiner of the term “open source.”



Getting a Handle on Your Future Self

Psychological research indicates that it’s not easy for people to grasp how much they are going to change over time. A recent  New York Times piece explores this phenomenon:

When we remember our past selves, they seem quite different. We know how much our personalities and tastes have changed over the years. But when we look ahead, somehow we expect ourselves to stay the same, a team of psychologists said Thursday, describing research they conducted of people’s self-perceptions.

They called this phenomenon the “end of history illusion,” in which people tend to “underestimate how much they will change in the future.” According to their research, which involved more than 19,000 people ages 18 to 68, the illusion persists from teenage years into retirement.

“Middle-aged people — like me — often look back on our teenage selves with some mixture of amusement and chagrin,” said one of the authors, Daniel T. Gilbert, a psychologist at Harvard. “What we never seem to realize is that our future selves will look back and think the very same thing about us. At every age we think we’re having the last laugh, and at every age we’re wrong.”

Look back at yourself 5, 10, 20,  or 30 years ago — or if you have the perspective to do so,  40 or 50 years ago — and ask yourself the following questions:

  • How similar is my day-to-day life to that person’s life?
  • How closely do my views about politics match those of that individual? Religion? Relationships?
  • How well do that person’s idea of a good time match mine?
  • How well do that person’s expectations about career, finances, family life match up to mine?
  • How does that individual approach a difficult task compared to how I do it?
  • What kinds of problems does that person face day-to-day compared to the problems I face?
  • How do my attitude and outlook on life compare with that person’s?
  • How closely does my life match the expectations that person had for the future?

Most people will identify a number of substantial differences between their current and past lives. According to the research, we can expect the same level of change over the next span of the same period. In other words, 20 years from now your life (and you personally) are likely to be as different from you as you are from the you of 20 years ago.

Apparently, we are naturally resistant to that idea. There are advantages to such resistance, of course. It would be difficult to make plans or deal with difficult decisions if we were constantly reminding ourselves that we will probably look at this whole situation very differently in the future. Some part of success in life requires assuming a stasis that isn’t really there.

On the other hand, failing to get a handle on how different our lives will be, and how different we will be, exposes us to certain risks and prevents us from leverage any number of opportunities. This would be true even if our lives were changing in a world that was itself pretty much static, but that is far from the case. Technological and social change are taking place at an unprecedented and accelerating rate. Somehow we need to get a handle on future versions of ourselves living in a very different future world.

That’s right. Be a futurist. As the Great Criswell put it in Plan 9 from Outer Space, “We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives.” But it’s not easy to do. As Yoda was quick to point out in The Empire Strikes Back, “Difficult to see…always in motion, the future is.”

The trick here is not so much to predict what’s going to happen as to start to get comfortable with what could happen. One helpful technique to support this kind of thinking is the scenario — a brief story or vignette that ties several possibilities together into a quick snapshot of the future. The definitive book on using scenarios for planning is The Art of the Long View by Peter Schwartz. I can’t recommend that book highly enough, but its focus is more organizational and institutional than personal. For personal scenario development, I recommend becoming pen-pals with your future self.

To begin, write a letter to your future self giving a quick glimpse of your life as it is now. I use to do this. You can write a note to yourself in the future, set the send date, and voila! — a note from past you shows up in your inbox right on schedule. I got a note from 2006 Phil a while back, and it was quite an eye-opener, I can tell you. It’s amazing how much things change over the course of a five or six years. Try to send one or two of these messages each year. Mix it up. Send some messages 10 years out, others just two or three. This will be very helpful to Future You who over time will get a clearer and clearer idea of how much change he or she should be expecting in the years to come.

The only real problem with being pen-pals with Future Me is that he does not have a way (yet) of sending messages back to Present Me (any more than I can send messages to Past Me.)   Writing to yourself in the future is a form of Practical Time Travel and, as I have explained previously, the practical approaches to time travel involve movement in only one direction. Forward. So to keep the correspondence going, I have to do Future Me’s letter-writing on his behalf.

Letters written to your present self  from your imagined future self will be the very scenarios mentioned above, the ones that will help you to get a better handle on who you will be in the future. Here are some tips on how to compose a letter from the future.

1. Consider Likely / Possible Changes in Technology and Society

Imagine how day-to-day life will be different in a few years. If you can’t begin to, start with some of the big differences between day-to-day life a few years ago and now and project those forward. While it’s true — as  they say in the mutual fund ads — that past performance is no guarantee of future results, such an exercise is a great start towards visualizing the future. Here are a few safe bets:

  • Technology will be embedded in your day-to-day experience in ways that even today you would have a difficult time imagining
  • Machines will do a lot of what you currently do on a daily basis
  • You will regularly interact with people whom you don’t currently know via channels that don’t currently exist

Those are all changes I have personally experienced over the past 25 years and that I expect to experience again over the next 25. But stated in such broad and sweeping terms, they don’t hit home.

Technology embedded in your daily experience? Imagine spending more time each day talking to your computer than you do to most other people. Imagine looking at the world 24/7 through glasses (or contacts) that provide an ongoing overlay of information — news updates, messages,  location- or context-sensitive  information — a live feed not unlike the nonstop crawl at the bottom of the screen on news channels.

Machines doing tasks that you normally perform? Think self-driving cars. Think robo-butler clearing the table. Think Siri 5.0 taking most of your calls for you — with the callers never even realizing they weren’t talking to you.

Interacting with people you don’t know via channels that don’t exist? Consider how transformative Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter have been. Now project that forward. What form does it take? (Sorry, you have to do this one on your own.)

From there, I would add the following as real possibilities:

  • You will be doing your job very differently, doing a very different job, or unemployed
  • You will be economically better off, although possibly unemployed and maybe totally broke
  • You will be healthier
  • You will be better looking — in better shape, thinner, less wrinkled
  • You will have very different ideas about the future than you have today

Anyway, that’s my assessment of where things will end up. Do you disagree? Good. Now do your own assessment. Just be aware of the causes and drivers that underlie any big changes you come up with.

Okay, now you have a good start on how different your world will be. Let’s  take that next step.

2. Consider  Possible Changes to You, Your Preferences, Your Circumstances

This goes to the heart of the mental block mentioned above. The exercises listed below can you help you get a handle on how different you and your life might be in the future.

NOTE: These are not plans. These are not presented as things you should want to have happen. They are intended to help you expand your thinking around what could happen.

  • Imagine yourself doing a job completely unlike anything you do now, have ever done, or have ever thought about doing. Picture yourself as a farmer or a dancer or a salesman or an engineer.
  • Imagine your religious beliefs completely altered. If you’re a believer, imagine that in 20 years you have become an atheist. If you’re an atheist, imagine yourself in the future to be a devout believer. Or imagine yourself converting to some religion vastly different from what you currently practice — e.g. going from being a Lutheran to being  a Tibetan Buddhist. Or take it all down a notch and imagine a milder shift, from agnostic to confirmed atheist, from believer to “not religious but spiritual,” from atheist to person who dislikes religion but kind of believes in God anyway.
  • Imagine yourself living in a completely different place. Switch yourself from a rural to an urban setting; move yourself from north to south (or vice versa); pick a country where they don’t speak your language. Imagine yourself living, full-time in a country that you’ve never even had any desire to visit.
  • Imagine your political beliefs changed. Go from conservative to liberal or vice versa. If you’re a moderate, picture yourself being really extreme and irritating
  • Imagine yourself in a completely different kind of family situation than what you’re in now. If you’re married, imagine yourself single. Add or subtract children. Change your partner to someone else — meaning either the person you’re with is completely different now or you’re with somebody else.

3. Compose your letter

Pick a few of the elements from the first list and a few from the second and combine them into brief letter to yourself. Something like this:

Dear Past Self –

I am writing to you from the Magic City, sitting in my study that overlooks the meandering Yellowstone river here in beautiful Billings Montana. I moved here a few years ago after the last of the kids went away to college. This seemed the ideal place to begin seriously pursuing my work as a painter, and I am pleased to say that I’ve been going through a highly productive period.   Betsy and I are still happily married, although living apart as she has remained in Phoenix. We hardly notice the separation, thanks to the full-immersion virtual presence service we use. The big upside is that our sex life has improved immensely (although I’m not supposed to say that.) Plus we now have plenty of personal space. I don’t think my interest in meditation is one she particularly shares, even though she was completely supportive when I was in rehab after the rock-climbing accident.  It’s funny: I never really pictured myself as a rock-climber, but if I hadn’t taken that fall, I never would have started meditating and never would have realized that I’m really an artist. Now thanks to the full spinal repairs the doctors were able to perform using stem cells they made from some cells scraped from my tongue, I’m completely recovered. Better than ever, actually. Still, with all the great rock-climbing available here in Montana, I think I’ll just stick to painting.

Well, that’s all for now. Good luck getting here, and be careful on the rocks!

Your Future Self

A few notes about the letter:

  • Don’t try to to include everything from both lists — you’ll ending up writing a science fiction novel.
  • You’re telling a story, but you don’t have to actually tell most of it. It’s mostly between the lines.
  • Try to create a scenario in which you’re reasonably happy with your life, even though you are picturing yourself as being happy with circumstances you’ve never considered before.

When you have finished, send your  future letter to your real future self. Down the road, it will be interesting to see if some of it, even some of the more outrageous stuff, actually comes true. The take a few more possibilities and compose a completely different letter from a completely different future you. After you have written five or six such letters, you will have a much better feel for hoe truly different the world and your life will be in the future, even if you get all of the details wrong — which you most certainly will.


The Last Job You’ll Ever Do…

Wired published a recent story about the take-over of robots – our jobs will, it argues, be mostly taken by robots.

Its hard arguing with the premise.  Robots are improving exponentially, humans… not so much.

After robots finish replacing assembly line workers, they will replace the workers in warehouses. Speedy bots able to lift 150 pounds all day long will retrieve boxes, sort them, and load them onto trucks. Fruit and vegetable picking will continue to be robotized until no humans pick outside of specialty farms. Pharmacies will feature a single pill-dispensing robot in the back while the pharmacists focus on patient consulting.

I think Wired might be overly optimistic about the pharmacists.  Why would a pharmacist be better at patient consulting than an AI?  The Jeopardy-playing Watson AI is being trained in cancer medicine and will, no doubt, be a better diagnostician than Dr. House someday.  Why would it not also be a better consulting pharmacist?

In fact, the last job people will ever do will be to give a human face to the AIs.

The Last Job: “I have one job on this lousy ship, it’s *stupid*, but I’m gonna do it! Okay?”

So that’s it: unemployed, or if lucky… getting a job repeating whatever a computer says.  Forever.  Pretty bleak, huh?

Fortunately when things change, more than one thing changes.  Humanity has been pretty static in its intellectual development for… quite some time.  But that is changing too.

We already live in a world where we operate as people much smarter than we, biologically, have any right to be.  If you’re over 35 you remember a time when ignorance was a little more permanent.  Because how much library time could a busy life accommodate?

I claim Google as a part of my brain.  It was a joke seven years ago when it was just my home and work computer I was talking about.  It’s much less of a joke today with smartphones.  The relationship between us and our technology grows more intimate over time.  Today its smartphones, tomorrow… well, Google is testing glasses that overlay data on the entire world.

A little further ahead our consulting AI pharmacist will buff up our biological intelligence, while engineers – AI and enhanced humans alike – build better and better bridges between us and our technology.  The bridges will grow in number and quality until the line between us is blurred to meaninglessness.