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

Kim Stanley Robinson, the best selling and award-winning science fiction author is our featured guest. Probably best known for his Mars trilogy (Red Mars, Green Mars and Blue Mars); his other novels include: Fifty Degrees Below, Forty Signs of Rain, The Years of Rice and Salt, and most recently, Sixty Days and Counting.

Hosted by Stephen Euin Cobb, this is the March 26, 2008 episode of The Future And You. [Running time: 83 minutes]

In today’s interview Kim Stanley Robinson covers many topics: his conversations with Sir Arthur C Clarke; how the TV show 24 encourages and justifies the use of torture; his observation that terrorists have become an exaggerated enemy; why English has become the world language; the vision he has tried to put forth in his latest novel Sixty Days and Counting; how frustrating it is that there are lots of exoplanets but we can't go look at them; and his worry that people are losing interest in space exploration because our ability to travel has not extended to the stars and is limited to our own solar system.

He also speaks to the difficult issues of the deeper future including: his opinion of the Singularity; his expectations of Artificial Intelligence; why he has moderated some of his views about Nanotechnology (he used to be more dismissive); and just how long he thinks human longevity might become stretched.

He also responds to the host's questions:  What would people do differently if we all knew we were going to live for 300 years? How would this change civilization?

Kim Stanley Robinson's writings have won the Hugo, the Nebula, the Asimov, the John W. Campbell, the Locus, and the World Fantasy Awards. He has a Bachelors degree in literature, a Masters in English, and a Ph.D. also in English. He considers science fiction to be one of the most powerful of all literary forms, which explains why his doctoral thesis was titled The Novels of Philip K. Dick.

Other items in this episode include: the recent death of Sir Arthur C. Clarke (one of the hosts personal heroes); how the upcoming Yuri's Night celebrations will take place in two worlds instead of one (the anniversary of the first human in space); LED light bulbs; and an essay concerning the host's new theory about the origin of NGC-6543, also known as the Cat's Eye Nebula.

Direct download: TFAY_2008_3_26.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:01am EDT

Peter Norvig, Director of Research at Google (yes, THE Google) is our featured guest today.

Peter is co-author of Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach, the leading textbook in the field of AI. He has written more than fifty publications in the computer sciences - concentrating on Artificial Intelligence, Natural Language Processing, and Software Engineering. He is a Fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence and the Association for Computing Machinery. And he was the head of the Computational Sciences Division at NASA Ames Research Center, making him NASA's senior computer scientist.

Hosted by Stephen Euin Cobb, this is the March 19, 2008 episode of The Future And You. [Running time: 97 minutes]

Will machines someday think as well as humans? Will they think in the same way we do? Will they plan, be creative, invent things that are new and innovative? Will they feel emotions as we do? Will they feel compassion, fear, fondness, attachments based on familiarity?

Peter Norvig answers all of these questions, as well as the obligatory scary question: If the IQ curve of AI rises long enough for their IQ to match our own, why would that curve stop rising? Won't their IQ continue increasing until they are ten times smarter than us, and then a hundred, and then a thousand? At what point might this stop? Is there a limit? Do you fear superhuman AI? Should anyone?

He also describes his work at NASA concerning the Remote Agent and Mars Exploration Rovers, and what role AI played in it. He talks of the work Google is doing in AI, why Google is interested in AI, and if Google plans to have its search page converse with users.

Direct download: TFAY_2008_3_19.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:01am EDT

David B. Coe the award-winning, and critically acclaimed, author of nine fantasy novels (some of which have been translated into no less than six languages, including Russian, German, Dutch, and French) is our featured guest today.

David has a doctorate in American history from Stanford University, and he enjoys nature photography, bird and butterfly watching, and playing guitar.

David talks about Wikipedia, e-books and Amazon's Kindle, Green investment funds, solar power, his belief that clean coal is decades away, and he once again emphasizes that if his fellow environmentalists are going to get serious about global warming they will have to find a way to embrace nuclear power.

Hosted by Stephen Euin Cobb, this is the March 12, 2008 episode of The Future And You. [Running time: 82 minutes]

David also describes the changing corporate climate concerning environmentalism. Being Green has become the In Thing for corporate marketing. Wal-Mart has become a leader in promoting Green. Saving the environment is now widely seen as good business.

He explains why official decisions concerning which birds are, and are not, defined as separate species are based mostly on science, but also partly on politics, emotionalism, local tradition and sentimentality. An avid bird and butterfly watcher, he describes the trends in both, and mentions that butterflies are like the canary in the coal mine: they are an early indicator of damage to an ecosystem.

He also responds with surprising candor to the host's question: For each of the current candidates (John McCain, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton) what is the best and worst things that would probably happen during their presidency?

Others who provide comment, feedback or receive an honorable mention in this episode include: Randal L. Schwartz, Shaun Ferrell, Rich Sigfrit, Mur Lafferty, Tee Morris, Khannea Suntzu and Extropia DaSilva (for her blog post entitled Snowcrashing into the Diamond age).

Direct download: TFAY_2008_3_12.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:01am EDT

Michael Anissimov, the well known futurist, blogger and transhumanism activist is today's featured guest.

Michael talks about many future-oriented topics such as: transhumanism and the singularity; cryonics and Paris Hilton; solar power verses nuclear power; synthetic biology and Craig Ventor's new artificial organism; and his own involvement with the founding of the Immortality Institute.

The Immortality Institute is a life extension activist organization that today includes hundreds of paying members and an active online community. Michael was one of its co-founders though he was still in High School at the time.

Currently Michael is the Lifeboat Foundation's fundraising Director for North America; He is very much involved with the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology; and was recently voted to join the board of the World Transhumanist Association.

Hosted by Stephen Euin Cobb, this is the March 5, 2008 episode of The Future And You. [Running time: 71 minutes]

In this interview Michael expresses his enthusiasm about the ongoing revitalization of the World Transhumanist Association, which includes the new webzine being put together by R. U. Serious.

He also discuses two technologies he feels could have a radical destabilizing effect on the world once they reach a certain threshold--which they may do within 20 years. These technologies are molecular nanotechnology (MNT) and Artificial General Intelligence (AGI). While their potential benefits are great, if not handled with extreme caution, he feels these technologies could cause disaster.

He also describes the trends he sees going on within the transhumanist movement today, and how he expects these trends to play out during the next few years. For example, he sees that the general public is beginning to warm up to transhumanist ideas thanks to movies and TV; but that there is still a lot of fear of transhumanism among the religious right. He agrees that there are a lot of closet transhumanists who haven't come out yet. But he also says the new transhumanists seem to be of all ages, not just young people. He sees the next few years as a time of much greater acceptance of the transhumanist ideas and idealism.

Michael is a science and technology writer and consultant based in San Francisco. He has given talks on futurist issues at seminars and conferences in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and at Yale University. His blog ( has become one of the primary focal points within the futurist community, including the communities of transhumanists and singularitarians. His blog features his own writings, the writings of others, as well as many important links to other sources of information about the future.

Direct download: TFAY_2008_3_5.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:01am EDT