Flash Forward

Flash Forward

www.flashforwardpod.com
A show about possible and not so possible futures. From space pirates to conscious robots to the end of antibiotics. Hosted by Rose Eveleth.
After Life
Sep 7 • 26 min
This month’s episode is about what it would take to sterilize the Earth, and why you might want to figure that out in the first place. First we talk to the authors of a paper that tries to figure out this exact question. David Sloan and Rafael Alves…
Down For Everyone Not Just You
Aug 8 • 39 min
This episode is a little different than other episodes. As many of you know, Flash Forward is my second job. My first job is at ESPN, where I recently helped launch an audio documentary series called 30 for 30 Podcasts. Please go check that out, even if…
Love On The Brain
Jul 5 • 33 min
This episode, we travel to a future where your romantic partners aren’t chosen by questions or swipes, but rather by your brainwaves. This future is based on an idea from Shelly Ronan and Ernesto D. Morales and their project Object Solutions. If you liked…
Mons Voyage
Jun 6 • 34 min
This episode, we go on another vacation! Can you tell I need a vacation? Anyway, back to the episode. What would it be like if you could hop on a space cruise ship, and take a trip to Mars? This is a special episode because our little future intro is…
Back to the Future: A Womb Away From Home
May 18 • 21 min
Long time listeners of Flash Forward might feel like this future is kind of… familiar. And it is. It’s actually the first future we ever traveled to on this show. A future where humans have invented artificial wombs. And this is a special bonus episode of…
Robocop
May 2 • 35 min
In this future there are no more human police officers. Is that even possible? The future of policing is a really really complicated topic. And it’s also, and this might be the understatement of the year, a controversial one. On this episode we’re not…
Unreel
Apr 4 • 43 min
This month on Flash Forward, we go to a future where anybody can make a video of you doing anything they want. And that technology is cheap and easy to access. What happens? This episode we start by talking about the technology as it exists now. Hamed…
California Dreaming
Mar 7
California has one of the largest economies in the world. So what would happen if it broke away from the United States? Could California ever go independent? And if it did, what would that look like? This is a future that’s been on my list for a while,…
Greetings From Paradice
Feb 7 • 38 min
Every year, over 20 million people get on a cruise ship and set sail for a seafaring vacation. Most of those cruises take their vacationers to warm, sunny climates. But thanks to climate change, a new hoard of ships might start sailing North rather than…
Robocrop
Jan 3 • 36 min
Today’s episode is about a future where nobody works on farms anymore, all farming is done by robots. It might be closer than you think.
Extra! Extra!
Dec 6, 2016 • 34 min
This week we travel to a future where there is so much fake news that nobody can tell what is real anymore. Are we already there? What happens next?
How is Babby (Not) Made
Nov 3, 2016 • 40 min
What happens when everybody has 100% control over when they do or don’t have babies? We got to a world with perfect and accessible birth control. You asked for a utopia, and this is as close as we’re going to get!
The Witch Who Came From Mars
Sep 5, 2016 • 46 min
Today we do something weird, in honor of the end of the second season! Instead of coming up with a future and then finding experts to talk about it, I asked an AI to write a future for us. And the AI apparently wants us to talk about space travel,…
Where’s the Beef?
Aug 10, 2016 • 39 min
Today we go to a future where animal products are banned. It’s one that lots of listeners have asked for so here you go. We talk about what happens to the land, the animals and the humans in this equation. In this episode we discuss the arguments in favor…
Revenge of the Retweet
Jul 26, 2016 • 36 min
Today we try to figure out what happens when our future presidential candidates have thousands of Tweets and Tumblr posts and Instagrams in their online record. What happens, when today’s teens start running for office? When their entire internet history…
The Altered State
Jul 12, 2016 • 37 min
Today we travel to a future where all drugs are legal. Just roll up to the store, and get yourself some cocaine! We start with some history: for centuries a world without drug laws existed. Mark Kleiman, a professor at NYU who studies drug policy,…
Bot for Teacher
Jun 28, 2016 • 40 min
Today a future without schools. Instead of gathering students into a room and teaching them, everybody learns on their own time, on tablets and guided by artificial intelligence. First, I talk to a Ashok Goel, a computer scientist who developed an…
Kaboom
Jun 14, 2016 • 33 min
Today week we take on a doomsday future! We haven’t done one of those this season. So, what would happen if all the active volcanoes in the world erupted at the same time? The short answer is: bad things. The long answer is, well, you’ll have to listen to…
Popnonymous
May 31, 2016 • 47 min
Today we go to a future where all pop stars use avatars, clones, robots or cartoons instead of their real bodies and faces. What does that do to music? Can everybody pull off an avatar? And why would any pop star even want that? We start with a conspiracy…
Expiration Date
May 17, 2016 • 49 min
Today we travel to a future where it’s possible to know exactly when you will die. Do you chose to find out? Now, this is, impossible. Totally impossible. And I’m not even going to try and come up with some strange pseudoscientific explanation for how…
Omnibot
May 3, 2016 • 36 min
Today we travel to a world with universal translation devices. Where the babelfish from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy comes true (although probably not in the form of an evolved organism, but let’s not fret about the details). We start this episode…
Swipe Right For Democracy
Apr 19, 2016 • 30 min
Today we travel to a future where America has converted to a direct democracy. Everybody votes on everything! Hey, did you know it was an election year in the United States? I know, you’ve probably not really heard about this, it’s not like it’s on the…
Rude Bot Rises
Apr 5, 2016 • 31 min
Okay, you asked for it, and I finally did it. Today’s episode is about conscious artificial intelligence. Which is a HUGE topic! So we only took a small bite out of all the things we could possibly talk about. We started with some definitions. Because not…
Tree Free
Mar 29, 2016 • 27 min
Today we travel to a fully digital world, a world where paper is a thing of the past. On this show we’ve tackled a huge range of futures — we’ve talked about things that are extremely likely, like, antibiotic resistance, and we’ve also talked about things…
MiniPod Time Travel
Mar 22, 2016 • 20 min
Today’s episode is a minipod, a smattering of time travel, future travel, and news about the show. In this episode we hear a bunch of messages from listeners: what folks think about past futures we’ve been to, and future futures we should travel to. We…
Unpawful
Mar 15, 2016 • 25 min
Today we travel to a future without pets. What would it take for us to give up our fuzzy, slithery, fishy friends? Should our pets get more rights? And if we didn’t have dogs or cats, would we domesticate something else to take their place? This week’s…
My Everything Pal
Mar 8, 2016 • 37 min
Today we travel to a future full of spreadsheet approved lives. A future where everything we do is tracked and quantified: calories, air quality, sleep, heart rate, microbes, brain waves, finances, happiness, sadness, menstrual cycles, poops, hopes and…
Micro But Mighty
Mar 1, 2016 • 27 min
Today we travel to a future where your microbiome becomes a key part of your identity. From health to your child’s kindergarten, here are all the ways knowing about your microbiome might impact your life. Let’s start with a definition: what is the…
The Ultimate Swatting
Feb 23, 2016 • 24 min
Today we travel to a future where humans have decided to eradicate the most dangerous animal on the planet: mosquitos. How would we do it? Is it even possible? And what are the consequences? Mosquitos have worked hard to earn the nickname “deadliest…
Don’t Lie To Me
Feb 16, 2016 • 21 min
Today we travel to a future without lies. What would it be like if we all wore accurate lie detectors around all the time? In this episode we talk about when children learn to lie, the different social functions of lying, and what might happen if we…
Love At First Bot
Feb 9, 2016 • 23 min
Right now there’s a whole lot of buzz about sex robots. Some people are really excited about them, and think we’ll be marrying robots by 2050. Other people are really worried about them, and are organizing whole campaigns against sex robots. This week, we…
Face Off
Feb 2, 2016 • 19 min
Welcome to season two of Flash Forward! We kicked off this season with a pretty unlikely future: the entire world goes face blind. Listen here: In the episode we discuss what causes face blindness — also known as prosopagnosia — and the tricks that people…
Reputationville
Oct 20, 2015 • 17 min
What would it be like if we lived in a world where everything you do is subject to a rating dolled out by a combination of machines and other people?
Crossing
Oct 13, 2015 • 14 min
Every country has their own idiosyncratic rules and regulations for border crossings. But what if the whole process were standardized and run by a single organization?
Bye Bye Binary
Oct 6, 2015 • 15 min
What if we lived in a world where gender was more like hair color — something you could change at will, and that had little bearing on what other people thought of you?
The Carbon Gene
Sep 29, 2015 • 17 min
When it comes to climate change, there are a lot of researchers already thinking about how to equip crops and food animals with genes to help them withstand heat and parched conditions. But what about genetically engineering humans to try to slow our…
Unseen
Sep 22, 2015 • 16 min
In 2006, scientists described the world’s first invisibility cloak. But there was a catch. It only worked in two dimensions, and on microwaves. But to what if scientists and engineers could created a true invisibility cloak?
Greetings
Sep 15, 2015 • 17 min
Humans spend a lot of time and energy wondering if there’s anybody else out there. But what if we got unequivocal evidence that there was? In this week’s future, a probe that is extremely similar to the Voyager probes that we sent out in the 1970’s shows…
The Empathy Machine
Sep 8, 2015 • 16 min
When you were a kid and stole your friends’ toys, your parent probably asked you this angry hypothetical: “How do you think that made them feel?” But what if you actually could feel what another person is feeling? This week, we travel to a future where…
Caged
Sep 1, 2015 • 17 min
What would happen if we rounded up all the critically endangered animals and plants and put them in armored zoos?
A Drone of One’s Own
Aug 25, 2015 • 17 min
What does the world look like when everybody with a smart phone also has a drone?
Eternal Life in Prison
Aug 11, 2015 • 14 min
What if “life in prison” could mean 100 or 200 or 400 years? Does that change the way that sentences are dolled out? What happens when a person gets out of prison?
Sunward Bound
Aug 4, 2015 • 16 min
If the Earth, somehow, stopped rotating around the sun, it would have exactly 64 1/2 days before it crashed into the fireball at the center of our solar system. Here’s what would happen during those last 64 1/2 days.
Facetime
Jul 28, 2015 • 16 min
Your face is one of your most valuable possessions. But what happens when facial recognition is so good that any company can grab an image of your face while you’re walking down the street, and link it to everything from your social media profiles, to…
Winded
Jul 21, 2015 • 12 min
What would happen if a company put up so many wind turbines that they actually changed the climate on Earth? I know this sounds totally crazy, but I swear to you this is something that scientists have actually looked into. So naturally, I talked to one of…
Grounded
Jul 14, 2015 • 12 min
Need to get from New York to Paris? Or San Diego? Chances are you’re not taking a car or a bus or a boat to go there. Instead, you’d hop on a plane. But aside from hurting your wallet, commercial flights also hurt the planet, contributing to the…
The Bodybuilders
Jul 7, 2015 • 13 min
We all want to be our best selves. But what if you could add almost anything to your body and mind? A camera here, an exoskeleton there. This is the world that some biohackers imagine—one in which humans can extend their abilities beyond the limits…
The Supernova Next Door
Jun 30, 2015 • 16 min
We often think of stars as twinkling, harmless little points of light that fill our night sky with majesty. But stars can be dangerous too. When they come to the end of their lifespan, some stars explode fantastically as supernovae. So what would happen…
The Day the Internet Broke
Jun 23, 2015 • 17 min
If you’re reading this, you have access to the Internet. But what would happen if the Internet suddenly went away? And what would it take to make that happen?
Never Lay Me Down to Sleep
Jun 16, 2015 • 12 min
If there was a drug that meant you never had to sleep again, would you take it? Would those who didn’t need to sleep have special advantages over those who did? All that and a side of zombies, in this week’s episode.
Revenge of the Germs
Jun 9, 2015 • 15 min
Over the past 85 years, antibiotics have been miracle drugs. They’ve kept infections at bay and opened up a world of medical possibilities: organ transplants, heart surgery, chemotherapy. But they’re not going to work forever. The age antibiotic…
The Most Dangerous Games
Jun 2, 2015 • 12 min
This week on Meanwhile in the Future we step onto the field and talk about contact sports. What would it take to create a future in which the most dangerous sports die out? What are those sports to begin with? What does a world without football look like?
Forcing the Hand
May 26, 2015 • 10 min
This week’s future is a social experiment. What if Earth had a robotic overlord who decided to ban all weapons? All fights would have to be hand to hand. Would there be less death that way? Less casualties? What counts as a weapon anyway? Listen to the…
The Moon is a Harsh Second Mistress
May 19, 2015 • 15 min
What would happen if the Earth suddenly had a second moon? This week, we work through the impact an additional satellite would have on our planet, from tides, to the night sky, to the potential destruction of Earth. Oh also there are space pirates.
A Womb Away From Home
May 12, 2015 • 13 min
What happens when women no longer have to physically bear children? Who wins? Who loses? Who takes artificial wombs to a far away planet to create a colony of super-beings?