To hell with the Trolley Problem: here's a much more interesting list of self-driving car weirdnesses

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Jan Chipchase has assembled a provocative, imaginative, excellent list of "driver behaviors in a world of autonomous mobility" that go far beyond the lazy exercise of porting the "trolley problem" to self-driving cars and other autonomous vehicles, including flying drones. Read the rest

Why all of us need to be futurists

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Two weeks ago, pioneering futurist Alvin Toffler died. Over at Medium, my colleague Marina Gorbis, executive director of Institute for the Future, reflects on Toffler's vision and why it's more important than ever for futures thinking to be a massively public endeavor. Marina writes:

Disorientation. Irrationality. Malaise. These were the sensations that in 1965 famed futurist Alvin Toffler, who died two weeks ago, suggested would run rampant in the face of the “revolutionary transitions” facing our society. According to Toffler, we would all suffer from a condition not unlike the culture shock experienced by travelers to foreign countries. He called it “future shock.”

“Imagine not merely an individual but an entire society — including its weakest, least intelligent, and most traditional members — suddenly transported into this new world,” Toffler wrote in a Horizon magazine article titled “The Future as a Way of Life.” “The result is mass disorientation, future shock on a grand scale.”

Arguably, we are living Toffler’s future today. Many of us are in a state of shock as social media enables the rise of political figures who we could never imagine as viable presidential candidates, software eats people’s jobs (according to some), massive data leaks allow loosely organized networks of journalists to uncover stories of global crime and corruption, and surveys consistently point to the loss of trust in most institutions across the globe. We are quick to marvel at Toffler’s foresight. I would argue, however, that our “future shock” is highly unevenly distributed....

We need to make futures thinking a way of life for more people outside of the enclaves like Silicon Valley, corporate boardrooms, and academic think tanks.

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Warren Ellis's "Normal": serialized technothriller about futurists driven mad by tech-overload and bleakness

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In Normal, Warren Ellis (previously) sets a technothriller in a kind of rehab center for futurists and foresight specialists who've developed "abyss gaze" -- a kind of special bleak depression that overtakes people who plug themselves into the digital world 24/7 in order to contemplate our precarious days to come. Read the rest

To see the future, visit the most remote areas of the GBAO

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Jan Chipchase travelled 7,100km through the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO) ("a remote, sparsely populated, mostly Pamiri, Kyrgyz-speaking region of Tajikistan") with only a small piece of hand luggage, and in those rugged, beautiful mountains, discovered 61 glimpses of the future. Read the rest

Vogue's 21st Century Man (1939)

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From Retrofuturism on Imgur: "February 1, 1939 issue of Vogue ran this photo of the 21st Century man, noting that he 'banishes buttons, pockets, collars, ties' and 'will revolt against shaving and wear a beautiful beard. His hat will be an an antennae - snatching radio out of the ether.'" Read the rest

Take the Pew Future of the Internet Survey

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The Pew Research Center is soliciting answers for a "Future of the Internet" survey that asks a bunch of thought-provoking questions about the security of the Internet of Things; social cohesion in a social media-dominated public sphere; education and innovation; automation and robots taking our jobs; machine learning and justice; and the tone of the online public sphere in the next 10 years. Read the rest

What if school was out, forever?

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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.

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

In this episode we talk to a computer scientist who developed an artificially intelligent TA, folks who build learning apps, and critics who wonder if all the promises being made are too good to be true. What do we gain when we let students choose their own paths? What do we lose when we get rid of schools?

Illustration by Matt Lubchansky.

▹▹ Full show notes Read the rest

WATCH: documentary on Walt Disney, the futurist

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John Frost writes, "Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow: The Futurism of Walt Disney new documentary captures a side of Walt Disney that other recent documentaries miss. He was a lover of technology, innovation, and a futurist with an eye toward improving humanity. The whole documentary has been released online to be viewed for free by CM Films." Read the rest

Intel futurist Brian David Johnson heads to ASU's Center for Science and the Imagination

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Brian David Johnson (previously) is the futurist and theorist who used design fiction to help the company think about how its products would work in the future (I wrote him a story about the painful death of passwords). Read the rest

Iconic 1960s spaceship house now a venue for discussing the future

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Craig Barnes, a grad student at Central St Martins in Kings Cross, London, bought and refurbished one of the last 60 Futuro houses, originally designed in the 1960s as modular ski chalets by famed Finnish architect Matti Suuronen. Read the rest

1950s fashion from the cover of Life Magazine, 1914

In 1914, nudity was easy to imagine, but not gentlemen in public without hats. Read the rest

After a rush, aviation stopped "progressing" -- the Web might be next

Maciej Cegłowski's "Web Design: The First 100 Years" is a characteristically provocative riff on the past and future of "progress" that asks the question, if aviation stopped producing faster, more powerful aircraft in the 1970s, will the IT industry do the same? Read the rest

Apple 1987 predictions of what 1997 would be like

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They got everything right! [via, via] Read the rest

Haunting science fiction about personal obsolescence

Paul Ford's story for Motherboard, "The Last Museum," concerns the obsolescence of a tech exec who's self worth was tied up in streaking past the Zucks and Jobses and Evs and Marissas of today, and is now confronting his own passing strangeness. Read the rest

Neal Stephenson's Seveneves: five thousand years of apocalypse and rebirth

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Neal Stephenson's no stranger to ambition, but his new novel Seveneves stretches to lengths (and heights) that beggar the imagination.

Digital rights news from 2025

European Digital Rights has published 300 Edrigrams -- crucial newsletters on all things digital in the EU -- and to celebrate, the 300th edition features 37 pages of news from the year 2025. Read the rest

Fascinating, wide-ranging discussion with William Gibson

Fenwick writes, "I had the tremendous opportunity to have a public talk with William Gibson when my university asked if I'd would to do a public talk with a public figure. I had no idea I'd be so lucky as to talk with William Gibson when I agreed. I thought you might be a kick out of our wide-ranging, fun discussion about science fiction and the future." Read the rest

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