The emerging technologies of the future will comprise the manipulation of four major categories: Bits, Atoms, Neurons, and Genes. In other words, FutureBANG!
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Oct 1, 2017

Ian and Jesse discuss blockchain technology, including Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Will the currencies of the future be based on distributed, decentralized computational algorithms that don't rely on putting all of our trust in governments and banking institutions?


Links to topics discussed:

"Verbal confirmation" for Hyperloop

Solar batteries for Australia

Tesla roof tiles sold out

What is the Blockchain?


Satoshi Nakamoto - Inventor of Blockchain


Radiolab episode - The Ceremony

Bitcoin block real time explorer

"19 Industries the Blockchain Will Disrupt"

Kanye Cryptocurrency - Coinye

"Bitcoin Security: Bubble Boy and the Sewer Rat"


Theme music, used with permission, by Jonathan Coulton.

Jul 17, 2017

Ian tells Jesse about the Seed Vault in Svalbard, Norway, as well as some other genetic backup projects around the world. If our civilization collapses, have we done everything we can to give the next one a chance to thrive?


Links to topics discussed:

Svalbard Seed Vault

On Google Maps

Millennium Seed Bank Partnership

Frozen Zoos

Original Svalbard 'flood' report

Followup on report


Theme music, used with permission, by Jonathan Coulton.

May 9, 2017

Ian and Jesse discuss the idea of bringing extinct species back into existence. Should we forget about extinct species and focus exclusively on preserving what's alive today, or could we see the return of dodos, mammoths, and even dinosaurs?


Links to topics discussed:

The 6th Extinction

Long Now's Revive and Restore project

Candidates for de-extinction

The Passenger Pigeon Project

George Church defends de-extinction

The Harvard Mammoth project

The Chicken-Saurus

Pleistocene Park article

Pleistocene Park documentary


Unsponsored Ad:

AVA Byte - Foolproof indoor gardening.


Theme music, used with permission, by Jonathan Coulton.

Jan 1, 2017

Ian and Jesse discuss the future of autonomous, self-driving vehicles. They're coming faster than anyone imagined, and they will have many large effects on society, both good and bad. What are some of the more creative ways we can find to use driverless cars, and how can we best deal with the loss of driving jobs?


Links to topics discussed:

Fully self driving Teslas

Interplanetary Transport System - full video with Q&A

Tesla's solar roof tiles

Wired article on self-driving car levels

Google cars

Brad Templeton UBC talk

CGP Grey video on traffic jams

Google self driving promo video

Otto beer delivery

Most common jobs by state

Udacity degree on self driving cars

Cracked podcast - the 11 nations of America


Theme music, used with permission, by Jonathan Coulton.

Sep 9, 2016

Ian and Jesse discuss the current state of genetic modification of agricultural products, and where the technology might lead in the future. If we could add, subtract, and combine any traits we want in our crops, what wondrous things could we create?


Links to topics discussed:

FlavrSavr tomato

Golden Rice

Aquadvantage salmon

Norman Borlaug

NYT article on GMO products


Gene guns

Civil War urban legend

Craig Venter


C3 vs C4 photosynthesis


Theme music, used with permission, by Jonathan Coulton.

Apr 17, 2016

Ian and Jesse discuss the future of toilets, plumbing, and sanitation. Modern sanitation has allowed us to build large cities with healthy populations, but how can we bring the same advances to the rest of the world, and what does the toilet of tomorrow look like?


Links to topics discussed:

Pit toilets (with guest Dickson Despommier)

Bill Gates' Reinvent the Toilet challenge

Bill Gates' Omniprocessor

Omniprocessor infographic!

Squat toilet health

Japanese Washlets


Theme music, used with permission, by Jonathan Coulton.

Mar 24, 2016

Jesse tells Ian about the Long Now Foundation, an organization that encourages thinking and planning on the scale of centuries and millenia. What kinds of issues do we need to plan for if we're designing a clock to last 10,000 years?


Links to topics discussed:

Long Now Foundation

Endangered Languages

10,000 Year Clock location

Brian Eno


Theme music, used with permission, by Jonathan Coulton.

Feb 28, 2016

Ian and Jesse discuss the possibility of contact with alien civilizations and what it would mean for the future of humanity. If we received a clear signal from an extra terrestrial intelligence, how would we react, and what should our response be?

This is a big topic, and we missed a lot of important stuff (we left out SETI!). We'll definitely come back to it in another episode some time, so let us know what else to include!


Links to topics discussed:

Drake Equation

Fermi Paradox

Definition of Life

Maxwell Hunter's Memo

The Brookings Report

Post Detection Policy

Possible Alien Megastructure

Voyager Records

Arecibo Signal

A Message From Earth


Theme music, used with permission, by Jonathan Coulton.

Nov 4, 2015

Ian and Jesse discuss using a brain to directly control a computer. It's happening now, and the future of brain-computer interfaces has a lot of promise, but there may be a dark side. How could we benefit from things like telepathic communication, literally combining brains to work on a problem, or even feeling the emotions of others far away?


Links to topics discussed:

Brain Waves - Be careful! There's lots of new-age pseudoscience nonsense about brain waves on the Internet.

Dr. Bin He's lab

Brain controlled drones video

Book discussing "brainish," the brain's internal language

One monkey's brain controlling another's body

Paralyzed man walks using brain-computer interface and avatar

Rat and monkey neural networks

Split brains

Project Cyborg


Theme music, used with permission, by Jonathan Coulton.

Oct 21, 2015

Ian and Jesse compare the future portrayed in Back to the Future II to our actual 2015. October 21, 2015 is the day that Marty and Doc Brown traveled to in the movie. Is the real future better or worse than the film predicted? 


Links to topics discussed:
Tony Hawk trying prototype hoverboards
3D printed pizza
Universal food delivery
Jaws 19 trailer
Pepsi Perfect bottle
Nike self-tying shoes


Theme music, used with permission, by Jonathan Coulton.

Sep 13, 2015

Ian and Jesse return to the topic of Vertical Farming to discuss the present and near-future of the industry and movement. Ian gives his account of working in the world's first commercial vertical farm: what worked, what didn't, and how the problems might be solved in the future!


Links to topics discussed:

Association for Vertical Farming

Urban Agriculture podcast

The Plant in Chicago

The Plant's amazing diagram

News of Local Garden opening

News of Local Garden closing (more details)

Indoor Agriculure Conference

Vertical Harvest in Wyoming


Theme music, used with permission, by Jonathan Coulton.

Aug 4, 2015

Ian and Jesse discuss the history and possible future of agriculture, and the concept of growing crops indoors, without soil, stacked in vertical levels. Will vertical farming be the solution to our growing challenges of pollution, population, and land and water use?


Links to topics discussed:

Vertical Farming

Dickson Despommiers

Vertical Farm (book)

Urban Agriculture (podcast)

Plato's Dialogues
(this one is recommended)

Socratic Method


Theme music, used with permission, by Jonathan Coulton.

Jul 17, 2015

In this bonus short episode Ian and Jesse discuss EPCOT, Walt Disney's vision for a planned futuristic society, not to be confused with the existing theme park, Epcot. The movie (and Disneyland attraction) Tomorrowland was based on a real idea! What might a true "city of tomorrow" have looked like, and would living in such a place be worth the tradeoffs?


Links to topics discussed:

Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow concept

Epcot Theme Park

Tomorrowland movie

Disney World

Walt Disney


The audio quality in this episode, while perfectly listenable, is not to the standard we hope to keep. We apologize! The issue has been resolved since this episode's recording, so look forward to a quick return to a top quality podcast listening experience.


Theme music, used with permission, by Jonathan Coulton.

Jul 2, 2015

Ian and Jesse discuss how humanity's future is treated in popular fiction (mostly movies). Why do so many of our favourite stories have such a pessimistic outlook on our ability to build a better tomorrow, and what are some of the best works of fiction that present a positive view of the future? Don't forget to share your favourite pro-future works on our Facebook page!


Links to topics discussed:

Movies and Shows:
The Martian
The Fifth Element
The Jetsons
Star Trek
Back To The Future II
Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure
Battlestar Galactica


JFK Speech at Rice University

Real Life Hoverboards

Mormonism in Battlestar Galactica


Theme music, by Jonathan Coulton, is used with permission.

May 18, 2015

Ian and Jesse discuss wearable technologies like the Apple Watch and Google Glass. These devices are the next step in our continuing trend to integrate technology into our lives and bodies. What do wearable devices offer that traditional gadgets don't, and are they leading towards implanted cybernetic devices?


Links to topics discussed:

Apple Watch:

Google Glass:

The Verge article on Apple Watch:


Theme music, used with permission, by Jonathan Coulton.

Apr 22, 2015

Ian and Jesse discuss life on an interstellar starship. When humanity begins to spread throughout the cosmos to explore and colonize new star systems, it will likely take many generations to travel the vast distances. What will it be like for those whose entire lives take place in transit between solar systems?


Links to topics discussed:

Interstellar's black hole breakthrough:

Project Orion:

100 Year Starship:

Freeman Dyson:


Theme music, used with permission, by Jonathan Coulton.

Mar 21, 2015

Ian and Jesse discuss Elon Musk and his proposal for a new high speed inter-city transportation technology, Hyperloop. If you could travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 35 minutes (fully powered by solar panels), how would that affect your life?


Links to topics discussed:


Elon Musk's initial proposal (pdf):

Elon Musk:


Tesla Motors:

Solar City: