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Flash Forward

Rose Eveleth

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A show about possible and not so possible futures. From space pirates to conscious robots to the end of antibiotics. Hosted by Rose Eveleth.

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The Day the Internet Broke

17:34 | Jun 23rd, 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?

Fungus Among Us

44:42 | Sep 11th, 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 Ros...Show More

The Grey Dawn

51:00 | Mar 27th, 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...Show More

Robocop

35:49 | May 2nd, 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...Show More

Facetime

16:56 | Jul 28th, 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, t...Show More

EARTH: The Desert Creep

53:00 | Mar 19th

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 i...Show More

EARTH: The Polar Flip

57:47 | Mar 12th

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 Magnet...Show More

EARTH: The Sunshade

52:12 | Mar 5th

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. ...Show More

Season Five Coming Soon!

02:36 | Feb 26th

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 gi...Show More

Snip Snip Snip

1:04:09 | Dec 18th, 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 Atlantic...Show More

Water Would Be Nice

44:09 | Dec 4th, 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 geop...Show More

The Commute From Hell

49:36 | Nov 20th, 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 hap...Show More

What To Expect When You're Expecting In Space

49:47 | Nov 6th, 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...Show More

Farm To Tablet

50:40 | Oct 23rd, 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 i...Show More

Eyes In The Skies

46:52 | Oct 9th, 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 conc...Show More

Money For Nothing

53:56 | Sep 25th, 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 th...Show More

Spawn of Sponcon

51:31 | Aug 28th, 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 lis...Show More

Dr. Doolittle

59:41 | Aug 14th, 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, ...Show More

Under The Sea

59:22 | Jul 31st, 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 wha...Show More

Portrait Of The Artist As An Algorithm

52:37 | Jul 17th, 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 artwor...Show More

The Very Big Sick

56:12 | Jul 3rd, 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 pande...Show More

The Space Roomba

53:10 | Jun 19th, 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?G...Show More

We Are Family

57:34 | Jun 5th, 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 ourse...Show More

Federal Project Two

55:15 | May 22nd, 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, ...Show More

Enter the Exos

52:46 | May 8th, 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...Show More

Fitness in a Bottle

54:04 | Apr 24th, 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 E...Show More

Fire From the Deep

45:58 | Apr 10th, 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 Universi...Show More

You’ve Got Brainmail

49:56 | Jan 9th, 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 s...Show More

Countless

47:18 | Dec 26th, 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 ...Show More

There’s No Great Future in Plastics

37:27 | Dec 12th, 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 scien...Show More

Our Father, Who art in Algorithm

52:39 | Nov 28th, 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. ...Show More

Deceptible Me

38:59 | Nov 14th, 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 begi...Show More

Easy Bake Organs

33:13 | Oct 31st, 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 Ge...Show More

Buzz Off

27:32 | Oct 17th, 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...Show More

Piraceuticals

27:32 | Oct 3rd, 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...Show More

After Life

26:35 | Sep 7th, 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 Rafae...Show More

Down For Everyone Not Just You

39:22 | Aug 8th, 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...Show More

Love On The Brain

33:11 | Jul 5th, 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 ...Show More

Mons Voyage

34:52 | Jun 6th, 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...Show More

Back to the Future: A Womb Away From Home

21:56 | May 18th, 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 episo...Show More

Unreel

43:52 | Apr 4th, 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. ...Show More

California Dreaming

0:00 | Mar 7th, 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...Show More

Greetings From Paradice

38:23 | Feb 7th, 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 t...Show More

Robocrop

36:38 | Jan 3rd, 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.

Extra! Extra!

34:30 | Dec 6th, 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?

How is Babby (Not) Made

40:44 | Nov 3rd, 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!

The Witch Who Came From Mars

46:11 | Sep 5th, 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, wi...Show More

Where’s the Beef?

39:29 | Aug 10th, 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 argume...Show More

Revenge of the Retweet

36:04 | Jul 26th, 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 inte...Show More

The Altered State

37:54 | Jul 12th, 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 pol...Show More

Bot for Teacher

40:13 | Jun 28th, 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 develope...Show More

Kaboom

33:12 | Jun 14th, 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 list...Show More

Popnonymous

47:09 | May 31st, 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...Show More

Expiration Date

49:35 | May 17th, 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...Show More

Omnibot

36:28 | May 3rd, 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...Show More

Swipe Right For Democracy

30:06 | Apr 19th, 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 i...Show More

Rude Bot Rises

31:54 | Apr 5th, 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....Show More

Tree Free

27:02 | Mar 29th, 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...Show More

MiniPod Time Travel

20:06 | Mar 22nd, 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 trav...Show More

Unpawful

25:56 | Mar 15th, 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? Th...Show More

My Everything Pal

37:04 | Mar 8th, 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 a...Show More

Micro But Mighty

27:19 | Mar 1st, 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 i...Show More

The Ultimate Swatting

24:47 | Feb 23rd, 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 “de...Show More

Don’t Lie To Me

21:39 | Feb 16th, 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...Show More

Love At First Bot

23:20 | Feb 9th, 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 wee...Show More

Face Off

19:59 | Feb 2nd, 2016

Welcome to season two of Flash Forward! We kicked off this season with a pretty unlikely future: the entire world goes face blind. Listen here: In the episode we discuss what causes face blindness — also known as prosopagnosia — and the tricks...Show More

Reputationville

17:10 | Oct 20th, 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?

Crossing

14:44 | Oct 13th, 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?

Bye Bye Binary

15:11 | Oct 6th, 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?

The Carbon Gene

17:47 | Sep 29th, 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...Show More

Unseen

16:22 | Sep 22nd, 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?

Greetings

17:45 | Sep 15th, 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 s...Show More

The Empathy Machine

16:52 | Sep 8th, 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 whe...Show More

Caged

17:38 | Sep 1st, 2015

What would happen if we rounded up all the critically endangered animals and plants and put them in armored zoos?

A Drone of One’s Own

17:58 | Aug 25th, 2015

What does the world look like when everybody with a smart phone also has a drone?

Eternal Life in Prison

14:41 | Aug 11th, 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?

Sunward Bound

16:40 | Aug 4th, 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.

Winded

12:10 | Jul 21st, 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 o...Show More

Grounded

12:13 | Jul 14th, 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 cont...Show More

The Bodybuilders

13:22 | Jul 7th, 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 b...Show More

The Supernova Next Door

16:06 | Jun 30th, 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 hap...Show More

Never Lay Me Down to Sleep

12:26 | Jun 16th, 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.

Revenge of the Germs

15:16 | Jun 9th, 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 resi...Show More

The Most Dangerous Games

12:24 | Jun 2nd, 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 ...Show More

Forcing the Hand

10:48 | May 26th, 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 t...Show More

The Moon is a Harsh Second Mistress

15:59 | May 19th, 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.

A Womb Away From Home

13:11 | May 12th, 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?