Participate in a Silicon Valley design jam to make the future of work more equitable for everyone


My colleagues at Institute for the Future are hosting a "Positive Platform Design Jam" November 30-December 1 at our Palo Alto, California gallery and offices. The goal is to hack on software or conceptual frameworks for on-demand platforms that not only maximize profits for their owners but also provide dignified and sustainable livelihoods for those who work on them. Are you a creative technologist, social inventor, policy expert, labor activist? IFTF hopes you'll apply to participate!

From IFTF:

Why are we doing this?

A host of technologies—from automation to digital platforms for coordination of tasks — are reinventing not just what people do to earn a living but at a much deeper level how we organize to create value. The landscape of labor economics is in upheaval. In the process, new platforms, algorithms, and attitudes are undermining many established institutions, regulatory regimes, and work practices, challenging some of the basic tenets of the social safety net established in the 20th century. But what of the workers? How can we ensure dignified and sustainable livelihoods for everyone?

Solutions won’t come from any one agency, discipline, or company. It will take collaboration, broad public engagement, smart policy, and an openness to reinventing old economic models. And while we can’t put the technologies enabling on-demand platforms back in the box, the algorithms we embed in them, the platform design choices we make, the policy and regulatory solutions we create can be shaped by all of us. It is one of the more urgent tasks that we face today.

Read the rest

Last call for the Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition!


Are you jonesing for a dose of optimism and possibility? In the mood to contemplate the cosmos? Want to experience a musical message for extraterrestrials the way it was meant to be played? The Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition, a project I launched with Timothy Daly and Lawrence Azerrad, is a lavish vinyl box set containing the contents of the phonograph record launched into space in 1977 and now 13 billion miles from Earth.

Our Kickstarter ends at 8pm PDT tonight (Thursday). Once we fulfill the rewards from this campaign, we'll never produce this deluxe 40th Anniversary Edition again.

We are so thankful enthusiasm and excitement about our project and the incredible Voyager interstellar mission. The curiosity and support is infectious. We're deeply grateful that a project that has been on our minds for so long has resonated with so many people around the world. Ad astra!

For more on the Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition, please visit our Kickstarter page here.

And here's an excerpt from an interview with me about the project, from The Vinyl Factory:

Ultimately it was a utopian vision for Earth as much as an actual attempt to communicate with extra terrestrials… Wasn’t it?

Yeah I think the idea is that if there is a civilisation that is intelligent enough to actually intercept it, they’ll be able to follow the instructions on how to play it. And I think that’s true. In some ways though, it doesn’t even really matter if it’s ever played or not by an extra-terrestrial civilisation.

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What will the news be on November 9?


The broken ansible in the basement ("We've been instructed in no uncertain terms never to use it, and the last editor to do so disappeared in a flash of late 1970s-era BBC special effects, presumably an extremely painful demise.") coughed this up today. I suspect it might be real.

Tzump_(Wikipedia article from the future) Read the rest

What if all drugs were totally legal?


Flash Forward: RSS | iTunes | Twitter | Facebook | Web | Patreon | Reddit

In this episode we discuss the history of drug laws, why some drugs are legal and others aren’t, and what would happen if we just let everybody lose to do whatever they want.

▹▹ Full show notes Read the rest

From cancer to body odor, the future uses of the microbiome


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.

Flash Forward: RSS | iTunes | Twitter | Facebook | Web | Patreon

In this episode we talk about the possibilities and limitations of the microbiome — the trillions of bacterial cells that live in and on your body. There’s a lot of money going towards microbiome research right now, and a whole lot of claims about what the microbiome can do. We break down what we actually know, and where we’re probably going.

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How would we get rid of every single mosquito?


In this episode of the Flash Forward podcast 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?

Flash Forward: RSS | iTunes | Twitter | Facebook | Web | Patreon

We talk to experts on mosquito ecology, public health, and a guy who’s trying to genetically engineer mosquitoes to eliminate themselves. We talk about everything from how hard it would be to exterminate mosquitoes, to which species we should target, to what the potential side effects might be. Listen for all that and more!

▹▹ Full show notes

Check out all the great podcasts that Boing Boing has to offer! Read the rest

What would happen if the whole world went face blind?


Hello and welcome to newest addition to the Boing Boing podcast family! Flash Forward is a podcast produced and hosted by me, Rose Eveleth. Every week we really overthink what the future has in store for us. Every episode we tackle one possible (or, not so possible) future scenario — everything from a sudden ice age, to the end of antibiotic effectiveness, to a world in which contact sports are banned due to head injury — and try to work out how that future would really go down.

Today, about two percent of the population has prosopagnosia — a condition that makes them unable to remember faces. But what if we all had it? On this week’s episode, we travel to a future where nobody can recognize one another by face.

Flash Forward: RSS | iTunes | Twitter | Facebook | Web | Patreon

In the episode we discuss what causes face blindness 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.

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How the White House is celebrating Back to the Future Day!


Our man in the White House, Tom Kalil, Deputy Director for Policy for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, alerts us to the Administration's celebration of Back To The Future Day that includes:

* The release of President Obama's updated Strategy for American Innovation

* Tom's post on the White House blog about the power of imagination, titled "Science Fiction to Science Fact"

* A series of online conversations with scientists and innovators about the future! Read the rest

Britain's new pylons look like scales of justice

The UK is to see its first new electricity transmission tower design in nearly a century, reports the BBC.

The new design abandons the traditional "Mutant Eiffel Tower" style in favor of a sleek "T" shape.

This renders obsolete all those weird British science fiction TV shows from the 70s and 80s, where the regressed medieval future was illustrated with pastoral landscapes studded by the obsolete but still-looming pylons of the barely-remembered 20th century.

The new ones, however, are far more obscenely symbolic of totalitarian self-regard, and surely have a great future in spooky hauntological sci-fi where leather and sack-clad villagers worship science and its manifestations.

This is already most of West Sussex, yes, but just imagine everyone doing it. Pictured above is new pylon, with some classic pylon in the background. Read the rest

Digital tools have a mind of their own: yours

Clive Thompson says that there are three principal biases that today's digital tools introduce to human thought.

NASA has a plan to just tow an asteroid around space like it's an old car

The crazy part about NASA's Asteroid Initiative isn't so much the part where we land human beings on an asteroid. That's cool and all, sure. But the bit that precedes it is actually a little bit more mindblowing. To make that landing work, we'll first have to send out robotic spacecraft to essentially capture an asteroid and tow it into a stable orbit around the Moon. Yeah. Seriously. Welcome to living in the future, dudes. Read the rest

The hazards of Moon dust

Despite all the attention lavished on Moon dust, we still don't know what effect the stuff has on human lungs ... which is kind of a big deal, considering the fact that the dust has busted through every vacuum seal its ever faced. And eaten through layers of moon boots. Basically, you can imagine Moon dust as those tiny shards that get left on the floor when you break a glass and inevitably end up embedded in your foot four days later. At The New Yorker, Kate Green writes about efforts to better understand the effects of Moon dust on various materials and how engineers are trying to find new ways to control it before humans return to the lunar surface. Read the rest

Lab meat "delicious", "weird"

A delicious lab-burger, comprising meat grown in a test tube rather than hacked from the corpse of a once-living creature, was eaten for the first time today at a news conference in London. Genetic material was taken from a cow and "turned into strips of muscle" that were then combined into a patty, reports the BBC. Read the rest

What Google's self-driving car sees

Charlie Warzel: "THIS is what google's self driving car can see. So basically this thing is going to destroy us all." [via Matt Buchanan] Read the rest

Growing up in the future

When Veronique Greenwood went to college in 2004, she took a laptop with her ... and a videophone. In an engaging essay at Aeon Magazine, Greenwood writes about what it was like to grow up with a Futurist for a mom, particularly a futurist who, in retrospect, seemed to be more interested in premature technologies than in the sleek, widely adopted versions that eventually succeeded in the marketplace. Greenwood's mother loved the videophone. When Skype came along, free of dedicated hardware, she lost interest. Read the rest

The rise and fall of the personal car

“The replacement of the car is probably out there. We just don’t fully recognize it yet.” — a really interesting story on the historical patterns of technology adoption and decline, and how those patterns might apply to the things we think of as absolute and necessary as much as they applied to the steamship or the landline. Read the rest

How space radiation hurts astronauts

Space is full of radiation. It's impossible to escape. Imagine standing in the middle of a dust storm, with bits of gravel constantly swirling around you, whizzing by, pinging against your skin. That's what radiation is like in space. The problem is that, unlike a pebble or a speck of dirt, ionizing radiation doesn't bounce off human flesh. It goes right through, like a cannonball through the side of the building, leaving damage behind.

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