Sat, 1 December 2007
Authors Timothy Zahn and Kevin J. Anderson are joined by Professor Paul Levinson (media commentator), as well as by Stoney Compton and Walt (The Bananaslug) Boyes. Hosted by Stephen Euin Cobb, this is the December 1, 2007 episode of The Future And You. [Running time: 98 minutes]
 News Items:
(a) Paris Hilton has signed up for cryonic preservation.
(b) Controversial new documentary claims there is an aggressive and widespread conspiracy within American universities to harass and persecute anyone who admits they believe in Intelligent Design.
(c) This is the second anniversary episode of The Future And You, and the first anniversary of this show being teamed with Jim Baen's Universe Magazine.
(d) Bones Burnt Black serialization is complete. (This episode contains no installment).
(e) Hank Reinhardt (renowned weapons expert and beloved husband of Toni Weisskopf--head of Baen Books) passed away on October 30, 2007.
 Could the reason SETI hasn't found any intelligent life in the universe be because there isn't any out there? Earth constitutes only one data point says Timothy Zahn, and my training in physics and mathematics tells me that extrapolating from only one data point is fraught with danger.
Timothy Zahn's confidence is high, however, that we will someday have computers wired directly into our bodies, but say's: I'll wait for the third or fourth generation of the technology to see what the side effects are. He also talks about medical life extension, The Singularity, nanotechnology, cryonics, and faster than light travel.
 Walt (The Bananaslug) Boyes and Stoney Compton give us an inside peek at what's in the latest issue of Jim Baen's Universe Magazine.
 Kevin J. Anderson (co-author of the best selling Dune prequels) sees artificial intelligence eventually merging with humans rather than becoming our enemy. He anticipates that computer implants will become popular, and is willing to have one wired into his brain too-—after other people try them first. He even suggests that this might someday lead to humanity developing a Hive Mind. He also talks about SETI, FTL, nanotechnology, and cryonics.
 Professor Paul Levinson does not believe artificial intelligence will ever become so advanced that it is unintelligible to humans. Because of this he does not buy into any of the apocalyptic descriptions of The Singularity in which machines out-pace humanity and go their own way. Instead he sees artificially intelligent machines becoming intimately integrated with human minds, resulting in our becoming better humans. He also describes the affects cryonics might have on society.
Thu, 1 November 2007
Authors Kevin J. Anderson and Doctor Aubrey de Grey are joined by professional comedian Grant Baciocco as well as Walt (The Bananaslug) Boyes and Stoney Compton. Hosted by Stephen Euin Cobb, this is the November 1, 2007 episode of The Future And You. [Running time: 100 minutes]
 Can catching a cold cause you to become obese? The explanation, which is still theoretical, is that because this particular virus reproduces in fat cells it has evolved the ability to stimulate the human body to create more fat cells.
 Kevin J. Anderson feels that if nanotechnology and molecular manufacturing turn out to meet their potential they will change human society and the human race forever, and that this will be a bigger change than any change we have experienced in all of human history.
He says Vernor Vinge's Singularity is a fascinating and scary possibility. Though a long-time Mac user and early adapter, he feels the curve of the singularity has already passed him by.
One of his worries for the future is that we have lots of smart people working on scientific advances when they have no clue what the effect on society will be. As an example, he sites a US project from the sixties called Operation Plowshare in which nuclear warheads were to be used in place of earth moving equipment for construction projects such as blasting tunnels through mountains for interstate highways and creating municipal reservoirs for public drinking water.
 Walt Boyes (The Bananaslug) and Stoney Compton give us an inside peek at what's in the latest episode of Jim Baen's Universe Magazine.
 Cryonics is a very good bet, says Doctor Aubrey de Grey who sees resuscitation from a cryo-preserved state as a natural extension of the work he's already doing in Medical Life Extension. He is pessimistic about cancer, however, and does not expect a cure within the next few years. He feels that cancer will be one of the most difficult problems of Life Extension to overcome.
He also uses empirical evidence to make a case for his notion that because Life Extension raises people's perception of the value of life, in the future wars will become less and less common.
He also suggests that the reason the US medical system is so expensive compared to those of the rest of the civilized world is not that it is not socialized but that America is such a litigious society. A lot of the money goes to lawyers, rather than to medical professionals.
 The final installment in our serialization of the novel Bones Burnt Black.
 An interview with the professional comedian Grant Baciocco in Atlanta Georgia where he had just accepted a Parsec Award for the weekly, family-friendly podcast which he co-created with Dougg Price called The Radio Adventures of Doctor Floyd.
A technogeek but no transhumanist, Grant Baciocco is one of the early pioneers of podcasting. He discusses trends in comedy including the recent increase in vulgarity, his use of SeatGuru to always get an aisle seat when flying, and trends in theme parks--especially the new interactive animated characters which talk with and answer questions from their audience.
Mon, 1 October 2007
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]
 News and Listener Feedback.
 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.
 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.
 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.
 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.
 Another installment in our serialization of the novel Bones Burnt Black.
 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.
 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.
Sat, 1 September 2007
Authors Jack McDevitt, Dr. Aubrey de Grey, Randal L. Schwartz and Stoney Compton are joined by Uncle Timmy (chairman of LibertyCon) and Walt, The Bananaslug, Boyes from Jim Baen's Universe magazine. Hosted by Stephen Euin Cobb, this is the September 1, 2007 episode of The Future And You. [Running time: 113 minutes] ---
 News Items (your host has been promoted to Contributing Editor at Jim Baen's Universe Magazine) and Listener Feedback (about The Singularity and how the Golden Age of Phone Surveying is drawing to a close).
 Jack McDevitt, author of the Nebula Award winning novel Seeker, as well as thirteen other novels, has made a career out of imagining our future. Here he describes what he anticipates and wishes for our future, as well as what he fears.
 Walt Boyes and Stoney Compton tell us what's in the latest issue of Jim Baen's Universe Magazine.
 If you can cause a mouse to live an unnaturally long life you can win a huge cash prize. Inspired by the now famous space-commercializing X-Prize, The Methuselah Mouse Prize is just as real but is designed to popularize and promote innovative medical research in Life Extension. Doctor Aubrey de Grey of the Methuselah Foundation--who is both a gerontologist and a transhumanist--speaks of this and other aspects of medical life extension.
 Another installment in our serialization of the novel Bones Burnt Black.
 What would you do if you were unjustly arrested on felony charges as a computer hacker? Randal L. Schwartz knows what he would do since this actually happened to him.
 In his twenty years of running a science fiction convention, Uncle Timmy (the founder and chairman of LibertyCon) has spent quality time with some of speculative fiction's greatest visionaries. In this candid interview Uncle Timmy reveals memories and anecdotes from behind those many scenes.
Wed, 1 August 2007
Authors Catherine Asaro, Hildy Silverman, Randal L. Schwartz and Stoney Compton are joined by editor Paula Goodlett from Jim Baen's Universe Magazine. Hosted by Stephen Euin Cobb, this is the August 1, 2007 episode of The Future And You. [Running time: 114 minutes] ---
 News and Listener Feedback (a) Fred Saberhagen (author of the Berserker Series) has passed away.
 Will future ballet dancers augment their bodies for greater strength and range of motion? And will we develop faster than light travel (FTL) in the same way we developed quanta mechanics and the relativistic equations? Author and scientist, Catherine Asaro covers both questions with authority because her career has included both. Concurrent with earning her doctorate in chemical physics from Harvard, she started and ran the Harvard University Ballet dance company, which still performs.
 Stoney Compton (author of the alternate history novel Russian Amerika) provides summaries and short readings from Jim Baen's Universe, the online magazine of science fiction and fantasy.
 How soon will e-books be as cheap as candy bars? As a child, Paula Goodlett, more than once, lived in towns without a library; where there was little available for her to read. Today she's the Managing Editor of Jim Baen's Universe Magazine and of The Grantville Gazette, both of which were created by Eric Flint and the late Jim Baen to experimentally test the waters of electronic publishing. Paula describes how these two experiments developed and what has been learned from them so far. She also provides hints of what changes are yet to be tried.
 Another installment in our serialization of the novel Bones Burnt Black; this time the second half of chapter 16.
 Infertility in America is increasing. This trend has lasted for decades, has been verified through statistics, and shows no sign of slowing. But while infertility is growing a new openness in talking about the subject is allowing its stigma to fade. Achieving Families Magazine is the “only magazine dedicated to providing real-life informative stories and articles to guide you through the challenges of infertility.? Hildy Silverman is more than just one of its editors; she's a living example of how science and technology are bringing the joy of childbearing to those who would otherwise be left out. Her daughter was conceived through technological intervention. Hildy describes new methods of conception, and the thorny legal problems they've created.
 With its twitchy and crash-prone reputation, do you really want Microsoft Windows running the anesthesia and life support software during your next surgical procedure? And in the future, when nanorobots are ready to be injected into your bloodstream to protect you from heart attack, stroke and cancer, should you trust their AI software not to crash. Or more importantly, should you trust them not to get a bug that identifies, as a cancerous tumor which must be sliced up and removed, your heart or eyes or brain? Randal L. Schwartz is a programmer familiar with the weakness and frequent glitches of software.
Sun, 1 July 2007
Battlestar Galactica cast member Bodie Olmos (son of Edward James Olmos and grandson of Howard Keel) is joined by the authors Robert Buettner, Mike Resnick, Randal L. Schwartz and Stoney Compton, as well as by Walt (The Bananaslug) Boyes from Jim Baen's Universe magazine. Hosted by Stephen Euin Cobb, this is the July 1, 2007 episode of The Future And You. [Running time: 118 minutes] ---
 A few items of News and Listener Feedback: (a) The World Death Stacks tournament now offers a trophy for artificial intelligence, (b) this show has been nominated for a 2007 Parsec Award in three categories, and (c) Listener Feedback from Bunnies of London (an expensive British escort service).
 With the future coming at us faster and faster how can your favorite science fiction writers stay one step ahead of emerging technology and the changes it creates in our lives? The truth is, sometimes they can't. Robert Buettner describes the future inside and outside of his novels, and how he and other writers struggle with the ever accelerating speed of scientific advancement.
 Walt Boyes and Stoney Compton provide an inside look at what's new in the latest issue of Jim Baen's Universe, the online magazine of science fiction and fantasy.
 Mike Resnick addresses a wide variety of questions such as how his own medical conditions may someday require he use voice recognition software, and how these conditions have influenced his feelings about socialized medicine. He also tackles other tough questions: Will the worlds religions remain relevant? Is it OK for big brother to watch you if it reduces crime? Will artificial intelligence worship its creators rather than destroy them? Will the lessons of prohibition be forgotten when writing future laws concerning Marijuana? And consumerism American style: is it succeeding where fascism and communism failed? Is consumerism doing what it appears to be doing: conquering every nation on earth?
 Another installment in our serialization of the novel Bones Burnt Black; this time the first half of chapter 16.
 Is it time to buy beachfront property inside the virtual world called Second Life? Randal L. Schwartz, who rents an apartment inside, and is therefore a resident, describes this bizarre world which is both similar and dissimilar to our own. Randal also describes some of his ideas concerning artificial intelligence and how quantum computing and neural nets may relate to it.
 The actor Bodie Olmos (son of Edward James Olmos and grandson of Howard Keel) describes his work on the set of the TV show Battlestar Galactica, as well as how it has affected his expectations of the future. He also talks of trends within his favorite hobbies: surfing and playing drums; and (in this interview taped June 2, 2007) reveals that Battlestar Galactica will end its run at the end of this season.
Fri, 1 June 2007
Authors Robert J. Sawyer, Mike Resnick, David B. Coe, Edmund Schubert, Randal L. Schwartz and Stoney Compton are joined by Walt (The Bananaslug) Boyes and Davey Beauchamps. Hosted by Stephen Euin Cobb, this is the June 1, 2007 episode of The Future And You. [Running time: 167 minutes] ---
 News about your host's recent throat surgery, and listener feedback about the implanting and hardwiring of computers into the human brain.
 Should we fear artificial intelligence? Once we make machines that are smarter than us how will we control or contain them? And if we try, won't they just outsmart us? Robert J. Sawyer explains why AI has dangerous possibilities which are being ignored today; and will continue to be ignored until, because of the accelerating pace of technological advancement, it will be too late. He discusses near term dangers, and ponders humanity's ultimate fate. Will we become pets or partners to machines, or something else for which we have no word?
 Walt Boyes (The Bananaslug) and Stoney Compton give us an inside peek at what's going on in the current issue of Jim Baen's Universe Magazine.
 Are state lotteries really an unethical tax upon the very people who can least afford them: the naive and gullible? Does the widespread popularity of gun ownership in America make the United States the only nation on earth that is unconquerable? Mike Resnick covers these and other subjects such as: Will Puerto Ricans ever vote for statehood knowing it will mean they'll have to begin paying income taxes? Will the US ever have socialized medicine? When Castro passes away, will Cuba embrace consumerism?
 Another installment in our serialization of the novel Bones Burnt Black.
 Did the documentary An Inconvenient Truth reveal as much about Al Gore and his political aspirations as it did about Al Gore's beliefs concerning climate change? David B. Coe describes what he sees as the many lessons from the movie including the probability that Al Gore will run for president in 2008, and his chances against Hillary and the other Democratic candidates.
 In the next seven to fourteen years your monthly electric bill will drop to zero permanently, and you will drive a car every day which costs you nothing to fuel. An essay by your host about the soon-coming abundance of really cheap solar cells.
 Are public libraries embracing the vast information access powers of the internet? The movement is called Library 2.0 and Davey Beauchamp (a professional librarian, and part-time writer and voice actor) has been helping it work its way into the quiet book-lined rooms of traditional libraries. Davey also describes trends in anime, his work on the second Writers for Relief anthology and announces that he has just been hired to write a rock opera based on the legend of Blue Beard the Pirate.
 In the next three to five years diabetics will all stop poking needles into their fingertips forever. A mini-essay by your host about RFID chips which will be implanted inside human patients and provide constant medical measurements without wires.
 What methods has Microsoft used that have given it a reputation for aggressive monopolism? And is it true, as some claim, that Microsoft's new Vista operating system has stolen 45 things from Apple's OS-10. Randal L. Schwartz talks of this as well as his experiments with podcasting and Geek Cruises.
 Will the online science fiction and fantasy magazines survive? Edmund R. Schubert, editor of Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show, describes the strengths and weakness of this business; the money to be made and the trends he sees developing.
Tue, 1 May 2007
Authors Mike Resnick, Kim Stanley Robinson, Elizabeth Bear, Dave Freer, Paul Levinson and Stoney Compton are joined by Randal L. Schwartz (programming consultant and activist) and Walt (the Bananaslug) Boyes of Jim Baen's Universe magazine. Hosted by Stephen Euin Cobb, this is the May 1, 2007 episode of The Future And You. [Running time: 142 minutes] ---
Sun, 1 April 2007
Authors David Drake, Alan Dean Foster, Dave Freer, Paul Levinson and Stoney Compton are joined by Ginjer Buchanan (of Ace and ROC books), Lucienne Diver (a top literary agent) and Walt Boyes (The Bananaslug from Jim Baen's Universe magazine). Hosted by Stephen Euin Cobb, this is the April 1, 2007 episode of The Future And You. [Running time: 121 minutes] ---
 News: (a) due to the host's vocal problems, this is the only episode which does not include an installment of the novel, Bones Burnt Black; (b) Death Stacks may now be played online for free without downloading anything; (c) TV channels from around the globe may be watched online for free by going to MyEasyTV.com; (d) your humble host proposes his fix for the confusion produced by dropped cell phone calls; and (e) your host will appear at RavenCon in Richmond VA, USA (April 20-22, 2007) and at ConCarolinas in Charlotte NC, USA (June 1-3, 2007).
 Apartheid ended 13 years ago, so what are the trends within South Africa today? And what misconceptions do outsiders have? Dave Freer (born and raised in South Africa) talks of this as well as his scientific profession: ichthyology (the study of fish), and the thousands of times he has been scuba diving, and one dive in particular when he got his arm caught in a shellfish tunnel and very nearly drowned.
 Walt Boyes (The Bananaslug) and Stoney Compton provide a peak into the current issue of Jim Baen's Universe magazine.
 Are SF writers really trying to predict the future? Hugo Gernsback thought he was predicting, but were H.G. Wells or Jules Verne also trying to be predictors? Many people think so but David Drake says No and backs it with specific examples.
 With half the Japanese populous reading eBooks on their cell phones and Steve Jobs intent on combining cell phones with iPods for computerless downloading of music, podcasts and audio books, just how fast are the changes coming? Ginjer Buchanan (Senior Executive Editor and Marketing Director of Ace and ROC books) talks of this as well as: why William Gibson is a national hero in Japan, the increasing feminization of America, the Vatican's website, and her fear that unemployment is the fate of all those who create, transport and sell physical books: from press operators and truck drivers to clerks in the giant chain bookstores.
 An essay by your host entitled: My Father's Watch which concerns physics and nanotechnology and the drop we will see in energy prices during the next five to ten years.
 Does the world need more people rather than fewer? Paul Levinson suggests that, since intelligence is our best resource then, more people will produce more intelligence, more innovation and a more rapid improvement to the human condition. He also addresses other questions: Is another dark age unlikely because (unlike in the ancient world) today there are so many copies of Humanity's collected knowledge? And is the fall of New Orleans (due to hurricane Katrina) a good example of how civilizations fall? And if so what can we learn from it?
 Have audio book downloads become a bigger trend than eBook downloads? What about giving away free eBooks? Lucienne Diver, one of America's top literary agents, talks of this as well as her frustration with the large pharmaceutical companies and her skepticism over whether or not future medicine will ever provide a cure for the cryonics process.
 Less-than-lethal weapons will soon take their place on the battlefield, but will they actually change anything? No, says Alan Dean Foster, and explains why. He also addresses the probability of the world entering a new dark age, and he disagrees with the host's notion that New Orleans can be used as a miniature example of the fall of civilization.
Thu, 1 March 2007
Authors John Barnes, Kim Stanley Robinson, Elizabeth Bear, L.E. Modesitt, Jr. and Stoney Compton are joined by Ginjer Buchanan (of ACE and ROC Books), Walt Boyes (JBU's own Bananaslug) and Ricki Dean (Manager of a High School cafeteria). Hosted by Stephen Euin Cobb, this is the March 1, 2007 episode of The Future And You. [Running time: 155 minutes] ---
 News items: (a) your host will appear at RavenCon in Richmond VA, USA next month (b), a new version of Death Stacks may be played online and requires no download, (c) there's no such thing as a Chinese Journalist, and (d) a 15 percent probability Al Gore will be the next US president.
 Generation Y is the most connected generation ever, but are its members obsessed with being in complete consensus on everything and horrified of being in open disagreement? And if so, how will this alter America ten years from now when Generation Y will comprise 40 percent of all American consumers? John Barnes, a consulting semiotician, has studied this subject in detail.
 Bananaslug and Stoney present a reading by Louise Marley of the opening scenes of her short story The Spiral Road which is in the February 2007 issue of Jim Baen's Universe magazine.
 What if everyone hypertexted within all conversations? What if you never had to define your terms because those not familiar with them could look them up faster than you could have provided the explanation. Elizabeth Bear has many ideas about this, AI, cell phones and the Singularity.
 What if Russia still owned Alaska? What if Lenin and Trotsky had remained nobodies and the Czar and Czarina still ruled? Seeing how history pivots on the mundane can provide insights into the changes we will all face in the future. Stoney Compton, a life-long student of history, talks of this and shares anecdotes about Alaska and its native Athabaskan Indians.
 Imagine you're in line in a cafeteria but federal regulations will not allow you to buy any kind of soft drink or fried foods. Now imagine ten thousand similarly restrictive cafeterias all across America. These are the cafeterias in public schools. To learn the trends our future wage earners are experiencing now, I spoke with Ricki Dean, Manager of a High School cafeteria.
 Many authors' careers ended when Horror book sales collapsed in the 1980's. Might this happen to another genre? Ginjer Buchanan (Senior Executive Editor and Marketing Director of Ace and ROC books) talks of this and the rising popularity of audio books. A trend the big houses are making a serious effort not to be left out of.
 Another installment in our serialization of the novel: Bones Burnt Black.
 What would you do differently today if you knew your generation would live 300 years? Kim Stanley Robinson tackles this question and its social ramifications since he sees it as a genuine possibility based on what he has been hearing from his friends with the field of biotechnology. He also covers cryonics, SETI and our next earth.
 Our stores are filled with every variety of goods, but does this variety give us only the illusion of choice? L.E. Modesitt, Jr. suggests that it does, and talks of his concern that we will be forced to rely on fossil fuels much farther into the future than anyone would like to admit.