Flash Forward

Flash Forward is a show about possible (and not so possible) future scenarios. What would the warranty on a sex robot look like? How would diplomacy work if we couldn’t lie? Could there ever be a fecal transplant black market? (Complicated, it wouldn’t, and yes, respectively, in case you’re curious.) Hosted and produced by award winning science journalist Rose Eveleth, each episode combines audio drama and journalism to go deep on potential tomorrows, and uncovers what those futures might really...more


  • Welcome to Celebrityville

    May 26 2020

    Today we travel to a future where celebrities construct their own cities for you and I to live in. Guests: Jon Karas — President and Co-Founder at Akoin Dr. Katherine P. Antonova — Associate Professor of Russian history at Queens College Brittany Spanos — senior writer at Rolling Stone Magazine → → → Further reading & resources here! ← ← ← Flash Forward is produced by me, Rose Eveleth. The intro music is by Asura and the outtro music is by Hussalonia. The episode art is by Matt Lubchansky...more


    May 12 2020

    Today we celebrate the FIVE YEAR anniversary of the podcast. Whoa. To celebrate, I reached out to every single person who you’ve ever heard on the podcast — every expert, every voice actor, and even a few patrons — and asked them one question: what would you say to someone living 50 years from now? Here’s what they said.Guests: Alice Wong, Amy Slaton, Angeli Fitch, Arielle Duhaime-Ross, Ashley Shew, Avery Trufelman, Calvin Gimpelevich, Carl Evers, Chris Dancy, Damien Patrick Williams, David Agra...more

  • Goodnight Night

    Apr 28 2020

    Today we travel to a future where darkness is a thing of the past. No more night, no more stars, no more deep inky black sky. What happens when we light everything up?Guests: Dr. John Barentine — director of public policy at the International Dark Sky Association Rebecca Boyle — science journalist Dr. Lucianne Walkowicz — astronomer at the Adler Planetarium Dr. Sarah Pritchard — historian at Cornell University → → → Further reading & resources here! ← ← ← Flash Forward is produced by me...more

  • Doomsday 2000/2038/2100

    Apr 14 2020

    Today we travel to a future where software engineers didn’t actually fix any of the Y2K bugs. What would have happened if we had ignored the problem? What lessons does Y2K have for us, and why are people worried about 2038 and 2100?  Guests: Peter de Jager — author of “Doomsday 2000” and Y2K town crier.  Dr. Andy Michael — geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey’s Earthquake Science Center John Feminella — software engineer at ThoughtWorks Dr. Sara K. McBride — emergency management spec...more

  • Flash Back to the Future: Flight Shame, Genetic Genealogy, 2020 Census

    Mar 20 2020

    Hi again! I’m back with one more of these update episodes. Today we cover the growing “flight shame” movement, some interesting developments in the genetic genealogy space, and what’s going on with the 2020 Census. New official, legit, Flash Forward episodes begin again on April 14th! Sources: Susanna Elfors: founder, Tagsemester Peter Aldhous: reporter, BuzzFeed News Hansi Lo Wang: reporter, NPR  Covid-19 Resources World Health Organization Paywall free articles from The Atlantic  Flatteni...more

  • Flash Back to the Future: Mosquitoes, UBI, Coronavirus

    Feb 11 2020

    Today is a very special ~~surprise~~ episode! I’ve been thinking about how to revisit old episodes, and give you folks updates on things that have happened since we covered certain futures. Sometimes things warrant more than a social media post, but not quite a whole new episode. So here’s a little experiment! On this episode, we revisit three futures and you get some juicy, fresh updates. We talk about a mosquito experiment gone wrong, a UBI experiment gone right, and what the heck is going on ...more

  • POWER: Mothers Against Digital Danger

    Dec 10 2019

    Today we travel to a future where a coalition of concerned mothers convinces the United States to shut off the Internet. Guests: Philip Elmer‑DeWitt, journalist  Chipo Dendere, assistant orofessor of Africana Studies, Wellesley College Tim Maughan, author of Infinite Detail Actors:Billy’s mother -- Tamara Krinsky → → → Further reading on today’s episode can be found here ← ← ←Content Notes[2:20-6:00] [21:00-23:00] Suicide, onling bullying & mass shooting[11:20-17:00] Pornography[23:00-25...more

  • POWER: The Sleeping Lion

    Dec 03 2019

    Today’s episode is about a future in which China supplants the US as the dominant world superpower. Is it imminent? What does a China-led world look like? And why are so many people worried about it?Guests: Meredith Oyen, professor of history and director of Asian studies at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County Gina Tam, professor of history at Trinity University  Linda Yueh, economist and author of The Great Economists Lina Getachew Ayenew, author of The Complete Beginner’s Guide t...more

  • POWER: Weird Flux But OK

    Nov 26 2019

    Today’s episode is about nuclear fusion, a technology that might save us all or might be a complete waste of time and money. Guests: Charles Seife, professor at NYU and author of Sun in a Bottle: The Strange History of Fusion and the Science of Wishful Thinking Sabina Griffith, communications officer at ITER Nicholas Evans, professor of ethics at UMass Lowell Michael Wahid Hanna, senior fellow at The Century Foundation  Actors: Radio Host -- Brett Humphries (a Patron!)  Moses Blackman -- Ed...more

  • POWER: 1919 (Episode 100!)

    Nov 19 2019

    It’s the 100th episode!!!!!! To mix things up, today we’re traveling to the 1919 to see how three different events shaped the last 100 years, and will continue to shape the future. 🚨🚨🚨 New merch!!! 🚨🚨🚨Guests: Cathleen D. Cahill, professor of history at Penn State University Adam Green, professor of history at the University of Chicago Virginia Scharff, professor of history at the University of New Mexico → → → Further reading on today’s episode can be found here ← ← ←Actors: Monica Byr...more

  • POWER: Time After Time

    Nov 12 2019

    Today we travel to a future where we can travel through time. Is it possible? Would you kill Hitler? Would it matter? Guests: Annalee Newitz, science journalist and author of The Future of Another Timeline Bryan Méndez, astronomer at UC Berkeley  Donna Rose Addis, psychologist at the University of Toronto Actors: Tamara Krinsky as Dr. Catherine Moore (watch her show Tomorrow's World Today!) Molly Woodstock as Dr. Brownlow (listen to Molly's podcast Gender Reveal!) Jim Westrich as Dr. West ...more

  • CRIME: Moon Court

    Sep 10 2019

    On today’s episode we take everything we’ve learned so far about the future of crime, and take it to space. Guests:Loren Grush — senior space reporter at The VergeMichelle Hanlon — associate director of the National Center for Air and Space Law at the University of Mississippi and co-founder of For All Moonkind.Erika Nesvold — astrophysicist and developer for Universe SandboxLucianne Walkowicz — astronomer at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago and co-founder of The JustSpace Alliance. Bianca I Lau...more

  • CRIME: CSI++

    Sep 03 2019

    Today’s episode is about the future of forensics: what happens when just a few skin cells can make you suspect number one? Guests:Raychelle Burks — professor of chemistry at St. Edward’s UniversityKelley Kulick — deputy public defender at the Santa Clara Public Defender’s OfficeMitra Sharafi — professor of law at University of Wisconsin-Madison Law SchoolMary Graw Leary — professor of law at The Catholic University of America Columbus School of LawActors:Evan Johnson as Mr. MortonBrent Rose as D...more

  • CRIME: Can You Sue An Algorithm?

    Aug 27 2019

    Today we travel to a future where algorithms can be put on trial. Guests:Rumman Chowdhury -- Global Lead for Responsible AI at Accenture Applied IntelligenceKevin De Liban -- attorney at Legal Aid or Arkansas Nicholson Price -- assistant professor of law at University of MichiganShobita Parthasarathy -- professor of public policy and women’s studies at University of Michigan Actors:Evan Johnson as Mr. MortonDavid Romero as DavidAsh Greenberg as AshSantos Flores as SantosCharlie Chalmers as Charl...more

  • CRIME: I Can See My House From Here!

    Aug 20 2019

    Today we travel to a future where satellites can catch criminals.Guests:Sarah Parcak, professor of anthropology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and author of Archaeology from Space: How the Future Shapes our PastJamon Van Den Hoek, professor of geography at Oregon State UniversityWenyao Xu, professor of computer science at the State University of New York (SUNY) at BuffaloActors:Evan Johnson as Mr. MortonCharlie Chalmers as CharlieGrace Nelligan as GraceDavid Romero as DavidAsh Greenb...more

  • CRIME: Jaw & Order

    Aug 13 2019

    Today we travel to a future where your face can be held against you. Guests:Brandeis Marshall -- data scientist & professor at Spelman CollegeMatt Cagle -- attorney, ACLU Northern California Keith Kaplan -- councilman, Teaneck, NJAnkita Shukla -- PhD candidate, IIIT DelhiActors:Evan Johnson as Mr. MortonDavid Romero as DavidAsh Greenberg as AshSantos Flores as SantosCharlie Chalmers as CharlieGrace Nelligan as GraceAva Ausman as AvaSidney Perry-Thistle as SidneyArthur Benjamin Allison as Art...more

  • BODIES: Ghostbot

    Jun 11 2019

    Today we travel to a future where dying isn’t the end. What if you could live on as a simulation? A bot that knows everything you’ve ever said, and can pretend to be you? 🚨 BECOME A PATRON BEFORE JUNE 30TH AND GET A SPECIAL REWARD! 🚨Guests:James Vlahos — journalist & author of Talk to Me: How Voice Computing Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Think Muhammad Aurangzeb Ahmad — research scientist at KenSci, Inc, professor of computer science at University of WashingtonAnita Hannig — pr...more

  • BODIES: Switcheroo

    Jun 04 2019

    Today we travel to a future where we can swap bodies with one another. Would you trade places with someone? Do you own your body?  Guests:Calvin Gimpelevich — writer, author of “Rent, Don’t Sell” Sav Schlauderaff — PhD student, University of Arizona, co-founder Queer Futures CollectiveKrizia Puig — PhD student, UC Santa Cruz, co-founder Queer Futures CollectiveSusan Gelman — professor of psychology, University of MichiganActors:Maria -- Cara Rose de Fabio Gaby -- Eler de GreyNew Marquis -- Xandr...more

  • BODIES: This Is Not A Test

    May 28 2019

    Today we travel to a future where all animal testing is banned. What are the alternatives? What can we do without using animals, and what can’t we do?  → → → Further reading on today’s episode can be found here ← ← ←Guests:Janet D. Stemwedel -- professor of philosophy at San Jose State UniversityLawrence Carter Long -- communications director at the Disability Rights Education & Defense FundKristie Sullivan -- vice president of research policy at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medi...more

  • BODIES: InkRx

    May 21 2019

    Today we travel to a future where we can tattoo sensors right onto our skin. What happens when you can get a live readout of everything from glucose to hormones to hydration levels built into a tattoo? What kind of privacy can you expect when your medical data is literally written on your skin? And what does any of this have to do with Inspector Gadget and René Descartes? → → → Further reading on today’s episode can be found here ← ← ←🚨🚨🚨 Become a patron before June 30th and get a special pri...more

  • BODIES: Enter Night

    May 14 2019

    Today we travel to a future where humans can see at night. What happens when we expand our vision out into the darkness? How does that impact everything from work, to architecture, to poaching to horror movies? And is it even possible? → → → Further reading on today’s episode can be found here ← ← ←🚨 BECOME A PATRON BEFORE JUNE 30TH AND GET A SPECIAL REWARD! 🚨 Guests:Gang Han -- researcher at UMass Medical SchoolGabriel Licina -- researcher and “sometimes biohacker”Lynne MacTavish -- operation...more

  • EARTH: The Ocean Farm

    Apr 02 2019

    Today we travel to a future where fisheries collapse world wide, and we turn the ocean into a giant farm. Guests:Amanda Nickson: director of international fisheries at The Pew Charitable TrustsDaniel Pauly: professor University of British Columbia, principal investigator at Sea Around Us, author of Vanishing Fish: Shifting Baselines and the Future of Global FisheriesBernard Friedman: founder of Santa Barbara MaricultureTyler Sclodnick: senior scientist, InnovaSea Systems Inc.  Patricia Majluf: v...more

  • EARTH: The Cement Ban

    Mar 26 2019

    Today we travel to a future where we try to break up with cement. Can it be done? How did cement because so ubiquitous? And what’s so bad about cement in the first place? Guests:Grady Hillhouse: civil engineer and host of Practical EngineeringRobbie Andrew: senior researcher at CICERO Center for International Climate ResearchAmy Slaton: historian at Drexel University and author of Reinforced Concrete and the Modernization of American BuildingDavid Stone: inventor of Ferrock→ → → Further reading ...more

  • EARTH: The Desert Creep

    Mar 19 2019

    Today, we travel to the deserts. Or, actually, the deserts travel to us. What happens if dust swallows up over 30% of the planet?→ → → Background reading, source material and other links here ← ← ← As air pollution gets worse, a dystopian accessory is born ← My piece on face masks mentioned in the episode! Guests:Sumant Nigam: climate researcher at University of MarylandMorgan Gorris: PhD candidate at UC IrvineChristina Xu: freelance technology researcherLindsay C. Stringer: researcher on land u...more

  • EARTH: The Polar Flip

    Mar 12 2019

    Today we travel to a future where the Earth’s magnetic poles reverse. → → → Further reading available here ← ← ← Guests:Eftyhia Zesta -- Chief of the Geospace Physics Laboratory in the Heliophysics Division at NASAMichael Purucker -- Planetary Magnetosphere Lab chief at NASAAlanna Mitchell -- author of The Spinning Magnet Rory Cottrell -- archaeomagnetism researcher at The University of Rochester Thorsten Ritz -- biophysics researcher at UC Irvine Actors:The Snowglobe Narrator: Brent RoseLenny H...more

  • EARTH: The Sunshade

    Mar 05 2019

    We're back! Did you miss me? Don't answer that please. Today's episode kicks off Season FIVE of Flash Forward. This year, I'm doing things a little bit differently. Instead of doing a new episode every other week, you're getting little mini-seasons. Each little block of five episodes will come out weekly, and center around a theme. This week we're starting our EARTH series. Five episodes, five different future Earths. Buckle up, I hope you're ready for some fun. And some terror. This is Flash Fo...more

  • Season Five Coming Soon!

    Feb 26 2019

    In case you think I've been sitting on my butt doing nothing, here's a trailer to let you know that I have been sitting on my butt doing lots of things! Flash Forward returns to your feeds NEXT WEEK, but to get you excited, I wanted to drop in and give you all a little taste of what’s to come.See you in the future!  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Snip Snip Snip

    Dec 18 2018

    At long last, we’re doing genetic editing. What’s the deal with the recent news about CRISPR babies? What does a future full of human genetic editing look like? And how might CRISPR change the food we eat? Guests:Sarah Zhang, reporter at The AtlanticGreta Johnsen, weekend anchor at WBEZ, co-host of NerdetteAlice Wong, founder of the Disability Visibility ProjectAlison Van Eenennaam, researcher at UC Davis→→→ Further reading and sources HERE ←←←Paper mentioned in the Policygenius ad: “National cu...more

  • Water Would Be Nice

    Dec 04 2018

    What happens when the Rio Grande dries up? The river is often overshadowed, at least in the US, by the Colorado River. But the Rio Grande creates the border between US and Mexico, and the water that flows through it is at the center of a looming geopolitical crisis. So what happens when towns, farms and cities on both sides of the border start to run out of water?Guests:Naveena Sadasivam: staff writer at the Texas Observer covering the environment, energy and climate and co-author on the series ...more

  • The Commute From Hell

    Nov 20 2018

    Getting from one place to another is hard. What if we could just teleport? From the physics of how this would work (it wouldn’t) to the ripple effects it might have on politics, urban development, and tourism, this episode is all about what would happen if we could zip instantly from one place to another. GuestsMatt Lubchansky, comic artist and associate editor at The NibZeeya Merali, physicist at the Foundational Questions Institute, author of A Big Bang in a Little Room, cohost of the FQXi Pod...more

  • What To Expect When You're Expecting In Space

    Nov 06 2018

    If humans want to really have a go at leaving Earth and living in space or on other planets, we’re going to have to figure out a lot of things: spaceships, food supplies, fuel, how to keep everybody from killing one another. But one thing seems to be frequently left out of the picture, when it comes to distant space travel research: reproduction. It turns out we know very, very little about what pregnancy in space might look like, or whether it’s even possible at all.GuestsMaggie Koerth-Baker: s...more

  • Farm To Tablet

    Oct 23 2018

    On today’s episode we tackle a future that was once a staple of science fiction: food pills. Instead of shopping and cooking and sitting down to eat meals together, we all simply pop our nutritional pills and move along with our lives. How feasible is this, really? Where did the idea come from? And what does the rise and fall in the popularity of the idea say about our changing relationships to food, culture and politics?Guests:Annalee Newitz, science journalist and science fiction author, co-ho...more

  • Eyes In The Skies

    Oct 09 2018

    Computers are getting smaller and smaller. But what if we had sensors the size of dust, that could float through the air undetected, talk to one another, gather information, and transmit that information back down to a central place? This is the concept behind smart dust, and it's more plausible than you might think. Guests:Amy Webb, quantitative futurist and founder of the Future Today InstituteFaine Greenwood, journalist and drone expertStacey Higginbotham, journalist, co-host of the Internet ...more

  • Money For Nothing

    Sep 25 2018

    What if we just gave everybody money? It sounds simple, but universal basic income is a trendy idea right now and a lot of you have asked for an episode about a future where everybody gets money from the government no matter what. And it turns out that while it sounds simple, just giving everybody money is way more complicated than you might thing.Guests:Atossa Araxia Abrahamian, Senior editor at The Nation, author of The CosmopolitesShaksam Khosla, graduate student at Johns Hopkins University, ...more

  • Fungus Among Us

    Sep 11 2018

    How much of what you do is actually your choice? What if you were secretly being controlled by a parasite that had infected your brain? What if that infection was spreading? Guests:David Walton, author of The Genius PlagueTade Thompson, author or RosewaterCharissa de Bekker, researcher at the University of Central FloridaSandeep Ravindran, science journalistFor additional reading and resources on this episode, visit flashforwardpod.com. Flash Forward is produced by me, Rose Eveleth. The intro mu...more

  • Spawn of Sponcon

    Aug 28 2018

    On today’s episode we travel to the near-future of advertising. Welcome to a future in which you can sign up to be a brand ambassador, and get paid for every time you mention a product in conversation. Simply download the app, and your phone will listen to your every word waiting to hear brand names, and pay you some money every time you mention one.  Guests:Deborah Dahl, speech technology expert and principal of Conversational TechnologiesLee Tien, senior staff attorney at the Electronic Fronti...more

  • Dr. Doolittle

    Aug 14 2018

    ~~~~ TAKE THE SURVEY! (Please) ~~~~Today we tackle the age-old question: what if animals could talk? Or, more precisely, what if we could actually understand what animals are saying?Guests:Con Slobodchikoff, professor at Northern Arizona University, CEO of Zoolingua, and author of Chasing Dr. Doolittle: Learning the Language of Animals.Irene Pepperberg, professor of psychology Harvard University, author of Alex and Me: How a Scientist and a Parrot Discovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence...more

  • Under The Sea

    Jul 31 2018

    In the 1960's, the United States spent millions of dollars exploring two different realms: outer space, and the deep oceans. But today, only one of those programs is still around. Why do space colonies seem more likely than underwater cities? And what does it take to build a settlement on the sea floor?Guests:Ben Hellwarth, journalist and author of SEALAB: America's Forgotten Quest to Live and Work on the Ocean FloorJim Fourqurean, professor of Marine Science at Florida International University ...more

  • Portrait Of The Artist As An Algorithm

    Jul 17 2018

    In today’s episode I welcome you to the Museum of Non-Human Art, a brand new gallery full of art made entirely by machines, computers, algorithms, robots and other non-human entities. I hope your enjoy your visit! To see pictures of any of the artworks we talked about on this show head to the website!  Guests:Elizabeth Stephens, Australian Research Council Future Fellow in the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of QueenslandMichael Noll, computer artist, professor...more

  • The Very Big Sick

    Jul 03 2018

    In 1918, the Spanish flu killed four to five percent of the entire global population. Infectious disease experts all agree that another pandemic is coming. It's when, not if. But are we ready for it? Today's episode explores what happens when a pandemic strikes, what the most likely candidates are, and whether or not the world is ready. Guests:Ed Yong, science writer at The AtlanticNahid Bhadelia, assistant professor at Boston University School of Medicine and the Medical Director of Special Pat...more

  • The Space Roomba

    Jun 19 2018

    This episode we take on a future where space junk has gotten so bad, that active spacecraft are constantly having to maneuver around it, which wastes fuel and cuts down on operation time. And humans decide to finally do something about it. But what?Guests:Loren Grush, science reporter at The Verge Lisa Ruth Rand, historian of science technology and the environment.Tiago Soares, systems engineer for ESA’s Clean Space programAndrew Wolahan, systems engineer for ESA’s e.deorbit program Alice Gorman...more

  • We Are Family

    Jun 05 2018

    With the rise in consumer DNA tests and online genealogy, people might soon have a pretty good idea where their families came from for generations. But are we putting too much faith in DNA? Can our genetic ancestry really tell us anything about ourselves? And what happens when DNA databases become playgrounds for true crime sleuths?Guests:Carl Zimmer, science journalist and author of She Has Her Mother's Laugh: The Powers, Perversions and Potential of HeredityKristen V. Brown, biotechnology repo...more

  • Federal Project Two

    May 22 2018

    Guests:Susan Quinn, author of Furious Improvisation: How the WPA and a Cast of Thousands  Made High Art out of Desperate Times and other books.Monet Noelle Marshall, playwright, consultant, artist, director, founder of JOCOAA.Monica Byrne, novelist, playwright, futurist, activist.Further Reading: Furious Improvisation: How the WPA and a Cast of Thousands  Made High Art out of Desperate Times by Susan Quinn The New Deal Art Projects, An Anthology of Memoirs by Francis V. O’ConnorEngendering Cultu...more

  • Enter the Exos

    May 08 2018

    This episode we talk exoskeletons: what are they being used for now? What might they be used for in the future? And what happens when they’re everywhere? Guests:Tim Pote, PhD student at Virginia TechGreg Pote, Tim’s brother Dr. Bill Marras, professor at The Ohio State University & Director of the Spine Research InstituteLarry Jasinksi, CEO, Rewalk Ashley Shew, assistant professor at Virginia Tech in technology & disability, and author of Animal Constructions and Technological Knoweldge K...more

  • Fitness in a Bottle

    Apr 24 2018

    Some people love going to the gym. Some people hate it. But what if there was a pill that could replace exercise? Today’s future might actually be closer than you think. Today’s guests:Nicola Twilley, co-host of Gastropod and New Yorker writerDavid Eveleth, my dad and biotech expertNatalia Mehlman Petrzela, historian and co-host of Past Present Sigmund Loland, philosopher of sports at Norwegian School of Sport SciencesCasey Johnston, editor at The Outline, author of Ask a Swole WomanRobert, my b...more

  • Fire From the Deep

    Apr 10 2018

    In this episode, a huge submarine volcano erupts, breaks the surface of the ocean, and forms a new island. What happens next?Guests:Tracy Gregg, associate professor of geology at the University at BuffaloRebecca Carey, senior lecturer at the University of TasmaniaParaskevi V. Nomiku, assistant professor of geological oceanography at the University of AthensGianpierro Orbasano, Tongan photojournalist and explorerMichael Bates, Prince of SealandJames Grimmelmann, professor of law at Cornell TechFu...more

  • The Grey Dawn

    Mar 27 2018

    We’re back! After a bit of a break, your regularly scheduled Flash Forward episodes will resume starting today. Every other Tuesday you’ll get a future delivered straight to your listening device. I hope you enjoy!On this episode, we’re talking about the future of senior care. Namely: what happens when we outsource care for our aging loved ones to robots, apps and devices? Let’s start by defining the challenge that the technology in today’s episode is trying to solve: in the United States, there...more

  • You’ve Got Brainmail

    Jan 09 2018

    In our last episode of the season, we take one one of the most requested futures: telepathy! What would it be like to be able to link minds, and communicate brain to brain? And how likely is it that we’ll ever get this kind of technology?   We start the episode by talking to Roger Luckhurst, a Professor in Modern and Contemporary Literature at Birkbeck, University of London, who explains where the word telepathy comes from, and how it totally obsessed men of science in the early 1800’s. Then, fu...more

  • Countless

    Dec 26 2017

    This episode we travel to a future where the 2020 census goes haywire. What happens if we don’t get an accurate count of Americans? Who cares? Apparently the constitution does!   The 2020 census is currently in the crosshairs — census watchers say that it’s not getting enough funding, and community organizations and local governments are already worrying about what an inaccurate census might mean for their people.   To walk us through the current perils facing the census I talked to Hansi Lo Wan...more

  • There’s No Great Future in Plastics

    Dec 12 2017

    This episode is all about a world without plastic. What would that look like? Is it even possible?   Today, plastic is seen as one of our great environmental enemies. But it actually wasn’t always that way. Bradford Harris, a historian of science and the host of a podcast called How It Began: A History of the Modern World, and Susan Freinkel, a journalist and the author of Plastic: A Toxic Love Story, walk us through how plastic started out as a solution to unsustainable practices. Then we talk ...more

  • Our Father, Who art in Algorithm

    Nov 28 2017

    In this episode, we travel to a future where a tech mogul feeds a machine learning system all the religious texts he can find, and asks it to generate a “super religion.”   Buckle up because this is a long episode! But it’s fun, I promise.   For the intro of this episode I worked with Janelle Shane to actually train a machine learning algorithm on a big chunk of religious texts that I assembled, and spit something back out. The specifics of the texts and the machine learning algorithm come with ...more

  • Deceptible Me

    Nov 14 2017

    This episode we travel to a future where you can choose to turn off your ability to deceive yourself. Are you now a perfectly clear eyed genius? Or a perpetually depressed misanthrope? Maybe both?   This episode was suggested by my mom. It begins with two tales of self deception, one from Jacquelyn Gill, an assistant professor of paleo-ecology at the University of Maine and the host of a podcast about climate change called Warm Regards, and the other from Beth Duckles, a writer, researcher, ethn...more

  • Easy Bake Organs

    Oct 31 2017

    This episode we take on a future full of bioprinted replacement organs. You asked for more hopeful futures, this is about as hopeful as they get!   We start by hearing a bit about what the current organ donation market is like from Christine Gentry, who donated a kidney to a stranger. Then we talk to Dr. Anthony Atala,  the Director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine and of the world’s leading regenerative medicine specialists. Dr. Atala has implanted organs grown from the ce...more

  • Buzz Off

    Oct 17 2017

    In this episode we travel to a world without bees. And not just honey bees, all bees.   You’ve probably heard a lot of doom and gloom predictions about what might happen if honey bees went extinct. Mass famine! The end of coffee! World economic collapse! But is that all true? (Probably not.) And how likely is a honeybee extinction anyway? (Extremely unlikely.) Plus, what about all the other bees in the world? We ponder these questions and more in this episode.  To walk us through what might happ...more

  • Piraceuticals

    Oct 03 2017

    This episode we go to a future with pirates! There always has to be at least one pirate episode per season. This time it’s pharmaceutical pirates.   This episode was inspired by a new book by Annalee Newitz called Autonomous. It’s very good and you should read it. I am not being paid to say that, I just really like the book.   Autonomous tells the story of two main characters: Jack the pharmaceutical pirate, and Palladin the bot that is trying to hunt her down. A few cool links related to Autono...more

  • After Life

    Sep 07 2017

    This month’s episode is about what it would take to sterilize the Earth, and why you might want to figure that out in the first place.   First we talk to the authors of a paper that tries to figure out this exact question. David Sloan and Rafael Alves Batista are the authors of a paper called “The Resilience of Life to Astrophysical Events” (along with Avi Loeb). No, they’re not evil scientists, just interested in what it might take to find life on other planets.   They explain their calculation...more

  • Down For Everyone Not Just You

    Aug 08 2017

    This episode is a little different than other episodes. As many of you know, Flash Forward is my second job. My first job is at ESPN, where I recently helped launch an audio documentary series called 30 for 30 Podcasts. Please go check that out, even if you don’t like sports I promise there’s something for you. My episodes are numbers three and four in the series, and they’re both out, and if you like the weird stuff I do on this show I think you’ll probably enjoy them.  Trying to make two highl...more

  • Love On The Brain

    Jul 05 2017

    This episode, we travel to a future where your romantic partners aren’t chosen by questions or swipes, but rather by your brainwaves.  This future is based on an idea from Shelly Ronan and Ernesto D. Morales and their project Object Solutions. If you liked what you heard about Object Solutions you should check out their other work, and their Patreon page.   I also talked to Suzanne Dikker, who has used EEG headsets to study everything from education, to Marina Abramovic’s art, to compatability. ...more

  • Mons Voyage

    Jun 06 2017

    This episode, we go on another vacation! Can you tell I need a vacation? Anyway, back to the episode. What would it be like if you could hop on a space cruise ship, and take a trip to Mars?  This is a special episode because our little future intro is actually two real people playing real parts. Olivia Koski and Jana Grcevich are the authors of a new book called Vacation Guide to the Solar System. The book is a spinoff of their long-running project the Intergalactic Travel Bureau, a project of G...more

  • Back to the Future: A Womb Away From Home

    May 18 2017

    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 Flash Forward where we’re going to go back and revisit that future, because a new piece of research recently came out about artificial wombs. I’m calling this, a BACK TO THE FUTURE episode.  Related reading:  Fluid-filled ‘biobag’ allows premat...more

  • Robocop

    May 02 2017

    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 going to try and give you a full picture of what the future of policing might be. That would take hours. Instead, we’re going to focus on two really specific pieces of this topic.  First we talk to Madeline Ashby, futurist and science fiction writ...more

  • Unreel

    Apr 04 2017

    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 Pirsiavash the show to explain his research into generating videos using algorithms.   So that’s where the technology stands now. But once it gets better, there are all kinds of applications. Hal Hodson, a tech reporter at The Economist, tells us ...more

  • California Dreaming

    Mar 07 2017

    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, but since the election here in the United States it’s taken a bit of a different tone. California voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton in the presidential election, 66 percent of the state cast their votes for her. And as most of you probably...more

  • Greetings From Paradice

    Feb 07 2017

    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 South. This episode of Flash Forward explores a future where the Arctic becomes a tourist destination just like the Bahamas or the Great Barrier Reef.  Researchers at UCLA have projected that the Northwest Passage might be totally ice-free by 205...more

  • Robocrop

    Jan 03 2017

    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. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Extra! Extra!

    Dec 06 2016

    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? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • How is Babby (Not) Made

    Nov 03 2016

    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! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • The Witch Who Came From Mars

    Sep 05 2016

    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, witches, and the occult.  So here’s what happened in this episode. I asked Mike Rugnetta, the creator and host of PBS Idea Channel and Reasonably Sound, to help me create a script for Flash Forward. Mike had done this for his own channel a few months a...more

  • Where’s the Beef?

    Aug 10 2016

    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 and against banning meat. How does that impact culture? Why should we do it? Does it help or hurt the environment? Can you really grow meat in a lab? And is that meat vegan?   First we talked to folks in the “ban the meat” camp. Marta Zaraska,...more

  • Revenge of the Retweet

    Jul 26 2016

    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 is there, searchable, for us to read? What if these teens Tweet something at 15 that they might regret at 45? Do we learn to accept that their opinions have changed? Or do we go through every candidate's entire social media history to find dir...more

  • The Altered State

    Jul 12 2016

    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, explains that fear of drugs, and the desire to regulate them, really started in the last 1800’s. The rise of industry, advances in chemistry, and the invention of the hypodermic needle all fueled a rise in drug use and in drug fears.   Today, of cours...more

  • Bot for Teacher

    Jun 28 2016

    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 artificially intelligent TA named Jill Watson and didn’t tell any of his students she wasn’t a human.   Then I talk to two people building future, app based educational systems. Jessie Woolley-Wilson from DreamBox explains what adaptive learning is, a...more

  • Kaboom

    Jun 14 2016

    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 the episode!  First we talk to Jessica Ball, a volcanologist, who walks us through the different types of eruptions, what make something an active volcano, and just how bad ash is. Spoiler: it’s really bad. It gums up engines, cuts up your lung...more

  • Popnonymous

    May 31 2016

    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 theory. Jaya Saxena tells us about the theory that Beyonce is a clone. And one of the reasons Jaya thinks that people might think Beyonce is using a clone is because she’s so private, and hates doing press stuff. Which of course is not the ca...more

  • Expiration Date

    May 17 2016

    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 this might happen. It’s not a thing. Just go with me here. Some people asked for more weird episodes this season, so, here you go!   We start the episode talking to Chanel Reynolds, the founder of a site called Get Your Shit Together which helps p...more

  • Omnibot

    May 03 2016

    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 with Barry Slaughter Olsen, who's the co-president of Interpret America. Barry tells us all about what interpreting and translation actually is, and why it will be really hard to replace human translation with machines.  Then we talked to Jul...more

  • Swipe Right For Democracy

    Apr 19 2016

    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 news 24/7. But for all the coverage and the fights you might be getting into on Facebook, tons of people in the United States aren't going to vote in this election. The Pew Research Center has some pretty depressing statistics on just how many A...more

  • Rude Bot Rises

    Apr 05 2016

    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 everybody even defines artificial intelligence the same way, and there are a ton of different definitions of consciousness. In fact, one of the people we talked to for the episode, Damien Williams, doesn’t even like the term artificial intelli...more

  • Tree Free

    Mar 29 2016

    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 that are simply never going to happen. Like space pirates dragging a second moon to earth for some reason.  And when I started working on this episode, I assumed that this future was more on the likely end of the spectrum. Maybe not in a few ...more

  • MiniPod Time Travel

    Mar 22 2016

    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 also cover some show news! So, in bullet point form:  Some of you might be new to the show this season. Maybe you didn’t even know this was the second season! Well, it is! Season one is available on Soundcloud, where you can download all the ep...more

  • Unpawful

    Mar 15 2016

    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 episode name is perhaps the worst pun I've ever committed. Sorry not sorry.  Anyway. In this episode pets are outlawed, gone, we don't have them anymore. No more dogs, cats, fish, birds, bunnies, none of them. This might seem like a really outlan...more

  • My Everything Pal

    Mar 08 2016

    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 dreams. Everything.  This episode is longer than our usual 20 minute jaunts to the future, because the future of quantified self is so huge. We cover everything from biased algorithms, to microbiomes (again), to the future of the calorie, and more...more

  • Micro But Mighty

    Mar 01 2016

    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 microbiome? Simply put, the microbiome is the collection of microbes (mostly bacteria) that live in and on your body. It’s hard to say exactly how many microbes make up the human microbiome, but researchers estimate that somewhere between 500 and 1,0...more

  • The Ultimate Swatting

    Feb 23 2016

    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 animal on earth.” According to the World Health Organization there are 20 million cases of dengue virus every year. And there are 214 million cases of malaria, 438,000 of which are deadly. In the United States, an outbreak of West Nile Virus that s...more

  • Don’t Lie To Me

    Feb 16 2016

    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 couldn’t ever fib. How would negotiations be different? How would we make small talk? Could we create art or music? All that and more in this week’s future.   This week’s show features four experts in the different facets of deception. Patti Wood is...more

  • Love At First Bot

    Feb 09 2016

    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 travel to a future where sex robots are realized, and talk about everything from warranties to ethics.   [A note: if you listen to our show with or near young kids be aware that today’s episodes discusses the future of sex, and goes into some d...more

  • Face Off

    Feb 02 2016

    Welcome to season two of Flash Forward! We kicked off this season with a pretty unlikely future: the entire world goes face blind.   In the episode we discuss what causes face blindness — also known as prosopagnosia — and the tricks that people use to remember their friends. We also go through all the things that would be easier (spying, hiding) and harder (police lineups, cocktail parties) in a world where we were all faceblind.   Today, about two percent of the population has some form of face...more

  • Reputationville

    Oct 20 2015

    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? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Crossing

    Oct 13 2015

    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? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Bye Bye Binary

    Oct 06 2015

    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? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • The Carbon Gene

    Sep 29 2015

    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 constant carbon contributions? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Unseen

    Sep 22 2015

    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? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Greetings

    Sep 15 2015

    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 up in our galaxy. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • The Empathy Machine

    Sep 08 2015

    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 humans have invented an empathy machine. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Caged

    Sep 01 2015

    What would happen if we rounded up all the critically endangered animals and plants and put them in armored zoos? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • A Drone of One’s Own

    Aug 25 2015

    What does the world look like when everybody with a smart phone also has a drone? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Eternal Life in Prison

    Aug 11 2015

    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? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Sunward Bound

    Aug 04 2015

    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. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Facetime

    Jul 28 2015

    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 your credit score, to your workplace? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Winded

    Jul 21 2015

    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 those scientists. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Grounded

    Jul 14 2015

    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 continuous input of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that is in turn contributing to climate change. So what if we stopped flights? What would happen? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • The Bodybuilders

    Jul 07 2015

    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 biology has set for us. But what does that world look like? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • The Supernova Next Door

    Jun 30 2015

    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 if one of those giant explosions happened nearby? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • The Day the Internet Broke

    Jun 23 2015

    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? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Never Lay Me Down to Sleep

    Jun 16 2015

    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. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Revenge of the Germs

    Jun 09 2015

    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 resistance is coming. So what does a world without these drugs look like? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • The Most Dangerous Games

    Jun 02 2015

    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? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • Forcing the Hand

    May 26 2015

    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 episode to find out! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • The Moon is a Harsh Second Mistress

    May 19 2015

    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. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

  • A Womb Away From Home

    May 12 2015

    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? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices