The Future And You
Ideas and opinion about the future based on verifiable facts of today.

Senator, and presidential candidate, John McCain is joined by Jack McDevitt, Eric Flint, Doctor Aubrey de Grey, Alethea Kontis, Stoney Compton and Walt The Bananaslug Boyes. Hosted by Stephen Euin Cobb, this is the October 1, 2007 episode of The Future And You. [Running time: 121 minutes]

Topics include:

[1] News and Listener Feedback.

[2] John McCain (presidential candidate and senator) openly threatens to close down half or more of NASA if elected president, but favors federal funding of nanotechnology and (though the issue has split the pro-life community in which he includes himself) also supports the federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.

[3] Eric Flint is optimistic about the future but is highly skeptical of both nanotechnology and the Singularity; Hooey, he calls them both. He recalls that the late Jim Baen also thought nanotechnology was nonsense and yet, paradoxically, was a big fan of the Singularity. Eric laughs as he explains that, the word contradictory was made for Jim Baen.

[4] The BananaSlug (Walt Boyes) joins forces with Stoney Compton (author of the alternate history novel Russian Amerika) to give us an inside peek at what's in the latest issue of Jim Baen's Universe Magazine.

[5] Jack McDevitt reveals one of the little hypocrisies we all share: We say we want the schools to make our kids smart, but what we really want is for them to make our kids think like us. He also laments that our government has stopped looking for the subset of asteroids which threaten to hit the earth—a project which would cost little and yet might easily save millions of lives.

[6] Another installment in our serialization of the novel Bones Burnt Black.

[7] Can we see huge increases in human life expectancy in 20 to 30 years? Doctor Aubrey de Grey says this is achievable even without the form of nanotechnology called molecular manufacturing. He adds, however, that a robust molecular manufacturing ability will be needed to extend human life expectancies indefinitely. (...a situation Transhumanists have nicknamed Escape Velocity.)

Doctor de Grey also describes a project attempting to produce Friendly AI. (Strong AI specifically engineered to be incapable of harming humans-—apparently reminiscent of Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics.) Having once worked in artificial intelligence, the doctor describes Friendly AI with some familiarity, but not a lot of confidence in its eventual success.

[8] Is the science fiction and fantasy short story market moving more strongly online? And do people who read online tend to gravitate to the shorter of the short stories? Alethea Kontis (a fantasy editor for Solaris Books in the UK and a buyer for Ingram in the US) says there are now several professional-level magazines online and their popularity and influence is growing. And, even though electrons are cheap, the desire for shorter stories is putting pressure on the magazines and writers to provide readers with stories that are shorter and more tightly written.

Direct download: TFAY_2007_10_1.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:01am EDT