The Secret History of the Future

The Secret History of the Future
From Slate and The Economist
10: Infinite Scroll
Nov 7, 2018 • 38 min
The Renaissance scholars couldn’t keep up with new information (“Have you read the latest Erasmus book?” “I don’t have time!”) and needed a better way to organize it. Thus came the invention of tables of contents, indexes, book reviews, encyclopedias, and…
09: A Little Less Conversation
Oct 31, 2018 • 30 min
Some people thought the laying of the transatlantic cable might bring world peace, because connecting humans could only lead to better understanding and empathy. That wasn’t the outcome, and recent utopian ideas about communication (Facebook might bring…
08: VR or It Didn’t Happen
Oct 24, 2018 • 32 min
In the Victorian era, plaster casts became a way to preserve important artifacts in 3-D. Now, virtual reality promises to preserve places and experiences. But who decides what gets preserved? And is the technology an accurate recreation of the experience,…
07: A Clock in the Sky
Oct 17, 2018 • 34 min
In 1714, British parliament offered a huge cash prize to anyone who could find a way to determine longitude at sea. And it worked, sort of … several decades later. Are modern contests (DARPA challenges, the X Prize) offering riches and glory an effective…
06: From Zero to Selfie
Oct 10, 2018 • 37 min
In 1969, an anthropologist introduced photographs and films to people in Papua New Guinea who’d never seen themselves represented in media before. It changed their conception of the world. In modern society, social media floods us with imagery at a pace…
05: Human Insecurity
Oct 3, 2018 • 30 min
The French telegraph system was hacked in 1834 by a pair of thieves who stole financial market information — effectively conducting the world’s first cyber attack. What does the incident teach us about network vulnerabilities, human weakness, and…
04: The Fault In Our Cars
Sep 26, 2018 • 33 min
The first pedestrian killed by a car in the western hemisphere was on New York’s Upper West Side in 1899. One newspaper warned that “the automobile has tasted blood.” Today, driverless cars present their own mix of technological promise and potential…
03: Fork Fashions and Toilet Trends
Sep 19, 2018 • 28 min
It took a long time for the fork to go from weird curiosity to ubiquitous tool. How long will it take for current technologies — like the Japanese-style bidet toilet, or heads-up displays such as Google Glass — to go from oddities to everyday necessities?…
02: The Body Electric
Sep 12, 2018 • 35 min
We’ve used electricity to treat our brains for thousands of years, from placing electric fish on our heads to cure migraines to using electroconvulsive therapy to alleviate depression. But over time, our focus has shifted from restoring health to…
01: The Box That A.I. Lives In
Sep 5, 2018 • 35 min
In the 18th century, a device called the Mechanical Turk convinced Europeans that a robot could play winning chess. But there was a trick. It’s a trick that companies like Amazon, Google, and Facebook still pull on us today. Guests include: Jaron Lanier,…
Season 1 Trailer
Aug 6, 2018 • 2 min
Examine the history of tech to uncover stories that help us illuminate the present and predict the future.