Category Archive: Podcasts

Jul
11

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 …

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Jul
07

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 …

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Jul
05

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 …

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Jul
01

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 …

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Jun
29

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 Blippy LayoffSpace Gamecrush Audioo Honestly.com Agester Chat With a Star The Meet Pen Cuecat Shweeb Withings 10 STUPID BUSINESS IDEAS THAT MADE MILLIONS 1. Pet Rock 2. Million Dollar Homepage 3. Holy Ink 4. “Positive” Attraction 5. Plastic …

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Jun
22

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 …

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Jun
10

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 …

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Jun
08

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 …

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Jun
06

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 …

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Jun
03

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 …

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Jun
01

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 …

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May
31

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 …

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May
27

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 …

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May
23

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? China’s robot revolution This dark side of the Internet is costing young people their jobs and social lives …

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May
20

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 …

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May
18

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 …

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May
17

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 …

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May
13

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 …

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May
11

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 …

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May
09

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 …

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May
06

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 …

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May
04

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 …

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May
02

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 …

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Apr
28

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 …

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Apr
26

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 …

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Apr
22

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 …

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Apr
20

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 …

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Apr
19

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 — …

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Apr
15

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 …

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Apr
13

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 …

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Apr
11

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 …

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Apr
07

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 …

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Apr
05

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 …

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Mar
28

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 Amazon.com] In Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, …

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Mar
23

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 …

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Mar
16

Artificial Intelligence Changes Everything

Phil  and Stephen Gordon discuss rapid progress in artificial intelligence and how AI is fundamentally reshaping our world.  Topics include: AI Researchers Solve Go Go champion Lee Se-dol strikes back to beat Google’s DeepMind AI for first time These engineers are developing artificially intelligent hackers $20,000 self-driving car Scientists made a robot art critic that …

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Mar
14

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: Matter will be created from light within a year Internet by light promises to leave Wi-Fi eating dust Next, two videos that are guaranteed to brighten up your day …

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Feb
22

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 …

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Feb
15

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: …

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Feb
08

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 …

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Feb
01

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. …

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Jan
25

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 …

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Jan
16

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 …

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Jan
10

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 …

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Jan
04

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 …

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Dec
27

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 …

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Dec
20

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? Topics: 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 …

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Dec
06

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 …

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Nov
30

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 …

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Nov
25

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 …

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Nov
11

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? …

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Oct
21

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 …

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Oct
14

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 …

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Oct
07

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? …

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Sep
23

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 …

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Sep
16

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 …

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Aug
27

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 …

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Jul
16

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 …

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Jul
09

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 …

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Jun
25

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 …

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Jun
18

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 …

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Jun
01

(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 …

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May
21

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 …

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Apr
30

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 …

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Apr
23

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 …

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Apr
16

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? They are in our kitchens. They are in our workplaces. They are running hotels (or will …

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Apr
09

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. …

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Mar
26

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 …

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Mar
06

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 …

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Mar
05

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 …

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Feb
16

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 …

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Feb
05

Where the Possibilities Are

Where are the possibilities? Everywhere. All around us. Phil and Stephen explore a grab-bag of possibilities: Finding success through enabling failure. Creating the roadmap for post-scarcity. Awarding a prize for the biggest contribution to the datafication of our world. Do hallucinogens have a role to play in getting us to the future? Is there more value in data …

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Jan
28

Transcendence: the Disinformation Encyclopedia of Transhumanism and the Singularity

Authors R. U. Sirius and Jay Cornell discuss their new book, Transcendence: the Disinformation Encyclopedia of Transhumanism and the Singularity. In nearly ninety A-Z entries, Transcendence provides a multilayered look at the accelerating advances in artificial intelligence, cognitive science, genomics, information technology, nanotechnology, neuroscience, space exploration, synthetic biology, robotics, and virtual worlds that are making transhumanism …

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Jan
22

Next! Three Emerging Technologies that Can Change Everything

Phil  and Stephen  look at three technologies that are getting more attention lately and with good reason: they stand an excellent chance of changing everything about our world. Thorium-based nucelar power can revolutionize our energy infrastructure. The convergence of augmented reality and virtual reality will utterly transform the way we experience the world. Google’s application of deep …

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Jan
15

Dogs that Poop Money

In response to Neil deGrasse Tyson’s suggestion that we should develop fully hack-proof systems, one Twitter user quipped that we should also develop umbombable cities and unkillable people. Blogger Iowahawk had an even more pointed response: Phil  and Stephen  discuss the merits of grandiose ideas that are much easier to dream up than to implement. Are they always a waste …

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Dec
18

Mind = Blown: SF Movies with Big Ideas

Serious science fiction has made something of a cinematic comeback lately with movies like Gravity and Interstellar earning both critical acclaim and doing nicely at the box office. Interstellar has also reintroduced an important and (somewhat neglected) sub-genre, the Big Ideas Movie. But where does it rank compared with the original Big Ideas space movie, 2001: …

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Dec
05

WT 100: Transforming the World One Podcast at a Time

Phil and Stephen have done more than 400 podcasts about the future over the years. Tonight marks the 100th show since this program changed its name from FastForward Radio to The World Transformed. So, 100 shows in, how are we doing at transforming the world? The guys review some of their favorite shows and topics …

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Nov
13

Modern Problems: On Comet Landings and Battery Life

Phil and Stephen discuss the triumph that is this week’s historic landing of the Philae space probe on comet 67P, and the odd circumstances by which unwanted shade and low battery life might cut the mission short. In an oddly related story, the Hubble Telescope has just celebrated its 25th anniversary. In other news, scientists are doing creepy mind-control …

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Nov
06

The End of Space Tourism?

In light of the recent Spaceship 2 disaster, Phil and Stephen discuss the past and future of space toursim. The discovery of the oldest map of the cosmos is a reminder that we have been pursuing the great Out There for a very long time. Some are now asking whether space tourism can survive. Have we reached …

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Oct
30

The Hoverboard Imperative: Why Some Technologies Insist on Coming into Being

Next year is not only the 30th anniversary of the release of the original Back to the Future, it is the year that Marty and Doc travel to at the end of the film. And it is the year that the movie Back to the Future II is set in (at least initially.) What do the …

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Oct
21

The Philosophy of Mind Uploading

Phil and Stephen welcome author Keith Wiley to discuss his book: A Taxonomy and Metaphysics of Mind Uploading. One day soon we may be able to transfer human minds to computers. But for that to be possible, there is a good deal that we will need to understand about the process of transferring minds, as well …

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Oct
16

Is Technology Just Using Us?

From a recent TechCrunch piece by Christian Cantrell: This is only one example of how technology has a tendency to self-propagate; to use humans as a vector to create copies and mutations and derivatives of itself; to recursively generate demand for itself in order to not only ensure its own survival, but its constant and even exponential …

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Oct
16

The Little Blue Light that Changed the World

Phil and Stephen discuss a wide variety of topics that show just how quickly, and completely both the world and our understanding of it are changing. Why the inventors of the LED deserved a Nobel prize. How transparent solar cells will redefine what we do with windows. Why NASA is researching ways to make people sleep for a …

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Oct
03

Fountain of Youth: Right in Front of Us?

Phil and Stephen discuss the possibility of achieving significant human life extension via existing, commonplace drugs. What if the cure for aging was right in front of us all along? And even if it isn’t, what are the chances that we’re going to find it soon? And are we really closing in on learning the programming language of aging? …

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Sep
25

Flipping the Switch

Maybe transforming the world doesn’t have to be so much work. Maybe we can make some of the biggest and most sweeping changes with the flip of a switch. Is India flipping the switch on space travel with its on-the-cheap Mars mission? Can we flip a switch and do away with unhappiness? Is there a switch we …

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Sep
19

The Ghosts of Evolution

Phil and Stephen examine the mysteries of time encoded in living beings all around us. What do present-dayspecies tell us about life in the distant past? And there may be deeper implications. Could the presence of evolutionary ghosts hint at unexpected truths about the origins not just of life, but the universe itself? Plus: Permits …

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Sep
12

Are We Living in a Science Fiction Story?

Sure the world is getting weirder, but is it getting Sci-Fi weird? Is it getting Philip K. Dick weird? Hosts Phil Bowermaster and Stephen Gordon explore evidence that we may be living in a science fiction story. First off, there’s this video of PKD himself from 1977 saying that we are living in the Matrix. Was …

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Aug
28

Life Discovered in Space

What are these mysterious organisms living on the hull of the International Space Station? How did they get there? And how can they survive in space? Is this evidence that life on Earth originated elsewhere? Or is it evidence that life on earth is able to find its way elsewhere? Or both? Also: The complete story …

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Aug
21

Your Wish Is Her Command

The Web has been all abuzz about Viv, the new personal assistant agent from the creators of Apple’s Siri. Word is that Viv will be able to do “anything you ask.” Even if that proves to be a little on the optimistic side, there is no question that we are in the early stages of a …

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Aug
14

A Tale of Two Engines

What’s more impressive: a proposed engine that could power neighborhoods (and even individual residences) or one that could potentially take us to the stars? The answer isn’t as simple as you might think. Engine technology is closely related to technology for producing energy — both will have a huge impact on what we are able to do …

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Aug
07

It’s Inevitable!

We look at a lot of scenarios for what might happen in the future — cool technological developments, major advances in science, new evolutionary developments for humans and for other species on this planet – but are there any future developments that we can say with any certainty will happen? Hosts Stephen Gordon and Phil Bowermaster introduce the …

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Jul
24

10 Years in the Future

This month marks the 10-year anniversary of Phil and Stephen’s collaboration. This week they look back over a decade of tracking the future. Here’s a small sample of what were talking about 10 years ago: Success: Memes or Materials? |  Still Number One! |  Pop Quiz! |  There’s a Hole in the Bottom of the Sea …

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Jul
11

People Are Stupid

It’s not a question of whether people are stupid. The real question is how fast is it happening? How long before the movie Idiocracy comes true? Hosts Stephen Gordon and Phil Bowermaster look at the scientific basis for recognizing the change in intelligence over the generations and what it has to tell us about where the …

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Jul
03

Declaration of Singularity 2014

  What’s the difference between the original Delcaration of Independence and the Speculist’s Declaration of Singularity? Obviously one has already happened, and one has yet to happen. But what else? A few minor word changes aside, the big difference has to do with when things happen versus when they are declared to have happened. What can …

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Jul
03

Declaration of Singularity

IN CONGRESS, SOME UNSPECIFIED DATE IN THE FUTURE The unanimous Declaration of the new posthuman civilization We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men human beings sentient beings of human-level or greater intelligence are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator, the Designer of the Simulation in Which We Find Ourselves, or a …

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Apr
16

The Future of Taxes

Phil and Stephen discuss the future of taxation. Will the coming years show us more of the same or some new model for separating us from our hard-earned money? Possibilities include: Flat Tax Fair Tax Other Models But then what happens if post-scarcity is realized? In a world where there is more than enough of everything, …

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Apr
09

Future Limited?

Phil and Stephen discuss the limitations that can most seriously impact the future: Resources — We’ve been warned about these limits many times. Capability — Do we have what it takes? Lifespan — Will we live to see it? People — Well there’s no shortage of those, anyway. (Or is there?) Ideas — Let’s not …

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Mar
28

The Book Is Dead; Long Live the Book

Phil and Stephen take a close look at the reading revolution that is currently taking place. Books are being replaced by electronic devices at a rapid clip. Is this good news or bad news? Some research shows that the electronic approach helps new readers to get more deep into the material. On the other hand, some …

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Mar
26

Life Extension and Resurrection

Phil and Stephen discuss new developments that promise to extend human life and to revive previously extinct species. Join us.

Mar
24

Weird Energy

Phil and Stephen discuss two promising, if somewhat offbeat, energy sources: Genetically modified plants Solar power collected in outer space Will our future energy demands be met by trees or a huge reflective strip on the moon? Tune in and explore. Lightning image by Raul Heinrich.  

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