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

Stefano Vaj (Author, futurist and transhumanism activist) is today's featured guest. (This is the first half of his interview.)

Topics include: Why transhumanism is taken seriously by the Italian public and the Italian press (as opposed to the American public and American press which often view transhumanism as a delusional fantasy). Why Europeans do not share the American view that Intellectuals are outside the loop in their ivory towers and are therefore unimportant. The influence of the Catholic Church in public and political life in Italy, and as the main opponent to transhumanism. How politicians in Europe use fear of transhumanist ideas as a tool to get more votes. What Stefano does as a transhumanism activist, and what listeners can do in their own lives and in their own ways if they wish to help this cause too. He also talks about the new Singularity University, and the new transhumanist periodical, H+ Magazine.

Hosted by Stephen Euin Cobb, this is the February 25, 2009 episode of The Future And You. [Running time: 44 minutes]

Stefano Vaj is author of the book Biopolitics of the New Paradigm which covers the biotechnological areas of transhumanism. He is also: a public speaker fluent in several languages; on the Board of Directors of the Italian Transhumanist Association; an Italian lawyer with offices in Milan, Italy and Brussels, Belgium; an Architect of the Order of Cosmic Engineers; and an active contributor to the Hplus2, Extropy and World Transhumanist Association discussion boards. (Though fluent in several languages, his own blog and his books are written in Italian and not yet available in English.)

News in this episode: [1] Google's new Latitude lets you see the location of your friends on Google maps using the GPS in their phone, and lets you immediately contact them with IM, SMS or a phone call. [2] Google has made one million public domain books freely available for reading on iPhones.

 

Direct download: TFAY_2009_2_25.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 5:01 AM

Kim Stanley Robinson, the best selling and award-winning science fiction author is today's featured guest.

Topics include: Kim Stanley Robinson describes his reaction to being chosen as Guest of Honor for the 2010 World Science Fiction Convention in Melbourne Australia. He also describes the benefits and challenges of the January 17, 2009 personal appearance he did in Second Life.

He also explains his conviction that we will never develop artificial intelligence, or the singularity, or mind-uploading. But he enthusiastically agrees with the desirability of increasing human longevity as much as possible, even if that means centuries, and even if it throws a monkey wrench into population control. He equates increasing longevity with decreasing human suffering. However, he doubts that an indefinate lifespan will come soon enough for anyone alive today.

Earth's current population, he says, may be the result of an Oil Bubble, and may be unsustainable after we run out of oil. He also explains why some people may be disappointed concerning the relationship they have with their robots in the future, since they will watch their machine for some glimmer of personality but will not find it.

He also talks about his involvement with the Clarion Writer's Workshop. About his teaching there this summer; about his teaching there once before in 1988; about being a student there in 1975; about the teaching methods used at Clarion; and about how, when it was forced to relocate, he helped Clarion find a new home at his alma mater (UCSD).

Hosted by Stephen Euin Cobb, this is the February 18, 2009 episode of The Future And You. [Running time: 80 minutes]

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 PhD. 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.

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 (which describes the first year of a new and innovative environmentalist president, and may be becoming historical fiction). His newest novel is called Galileo's Dream but will not be released in the US until January of 2010.

News in this episode: As many as 50 planets like the Earth are expected to be discovered during the next three years. They will be discovered by the Kepler orbiting telescope, which will begin it's search a few days after NASA launches it on March 5, 2009. As a side result it will also locate many thousands, or even tens of thousands, of planets not like the earth.

 

Direct download: TFAY_2009_2_18.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 5:01 AM

Jerry Pournelle (author, journalist, editor, technology columnist, and military textbook writer) is today's featured guest. (This is the third and final portion of his two-hour long interview.)

Topics today include: Why political debates are not debates, why the U.S. electoral college was devised, and why the 1787 Congress was more successful by being a closed-door session. Comments on the Cray-1 supercomputer; the remarkable fact that Moore's Law has held so long and still seems to be going strong; and what he tried to accomplish in his long-running column in the iconic computer magazine Byte. His observation that today's computer hardware has become so powerful that our software has not kept up; and his feeling that, 'The next big step will be to make programming obsolete.' The possibility that electronic piracy is what's killing the publishing industry, and his ideas on the possibilities of an 'Enhanced Electronic Book.' The advantages of space-based solar energy compared to ground-based; and a few comments on Escape from Hell: his and Larry Niven's sequel to Inferno.

Hosted by Stephen Euin Cobb, this is the February 11, 2009 episode of The Future And You. [Running time: 48 minutes]

Doctor Jerry Pournelle has written more than thirty novels and at least thirteen books of non-fiction. More than a dozen of his novels, he coauthored with his friend Larry Niven, including The Mote in God's Eye, Lucifer's Hammer, Footfall, Inferno; and their new sequel to Inferno: Escape From Hell.

Novels, however, have been only a portion of Jerry Pournelle's work. After serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, he acquired Master's degrees in both experimental statistics and systems engineering, and Doctorates in both psychology and political science. He co-wrote a military textbook called The Strategy of Technology which was required reading at West Point and the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. He helped to write a portion of Ronald Reagan's State of the Union Address concerning a missile defense system which the media at the time enjoyed making fun of and calling Star Wars, since they believed the technology needed to shoot down incoming missiles with our own missiles was impossible. He worked in operations research at Boeing, The Aerospace Corporation, and North American Rockwell Space Division. He was founding President of the Pepperdine Research Institute. He was campaign manager for Congressman Barry Goldwater, Jr., as well as for Mayor Sam Yorty. And he was a columnist for Byte Magazine beginning in 1982.

News Item: A new university dedicated specifically to teaching about the technological singularity was announced on February 3, 2009. Singularity University will be housed at NASA's Ames base in California and will begin classes this summer. It is the brainchild of Ray Kurzweil and Peter Diamandis, and has the backing of NASA and Google.

Direct download: TFAY_2009_2_11.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 5:01 AM

Jerry Pournelle (author, journalist, editor, technology columnist, and military textbook writer) is today's featured guest. (This is the second portion of our two-hour interview. The third and final portion will be provided next week.)

Topics today include: How he contributed to President Ronald Reagan's State of the Union Address in 1980, and became part of Reagan's group of advisers concerning the Strategic Defence Initiative (which Ted Kennedy, by the way, dubbed Star Wars because he did not believe it would ever be possible to shoot down an incoming missile with one of our own missiles). And how this lead directly to the Patriot Missile and other missiles which routinely do the impossible by routinely shooting down incoming missiles.

Laser-based warfare: including one proposal that would turn Grand Coulee Dam into a space-based weapon of immense power and very nearly global reach. A weapon so powerful that only one would be needed in a war.

Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy, which states that, 'In any bureaucracy, the people devoted to the benefit of the bureaucracy itself always get in control and those dedicated to the goals which the bureaucracy is supposed to accomplish have less and less influence, and sometimes are eliminated entirely.' Doctor Pournelle explains and gives examples.

He also mentions working with: Buzz Aldrin, Robert Heinlein, Greg Bear, Jim Baen, Larry Niven, Poul Anderson, Ben Bova, and Dean Ing. He describes a fundamental problem he sees with today's space suits; and talks of Patton and MacArthur, military theory, teacher's unions, and NASA.

Hosted by Stephen Euin Cobb, this is the February 4, 2009 episode of The Future And You. [Running time: 47 minutes]

Doctor Jerry Pournelle has written more than thirty novels and at least thirteen books of non-fiction. More than a dozen of his novels, he coauthored with his friend Larry Niven, including The Mote in God's Eye, Lucifer's Hammer, Footfall, Inferno; and their new sequel to Inferno: Escape From Hell.

Novels, however, have been only a portion of Jerry Pournelle's work. After serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, he acquired Master's degrees in both experimental statistics and systems engineering, and Doctorates in both psychology and political science. He co-wrote a military textbook called The Strategy of Technology which became required reading at West Point and the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. He worked in operations research at Boeing, The Aerospace Corporation, and North American Rockwell Space Division. He was founding President of the Pepperdine Research Institute. He was campaign manager for Congressman Barry Goldwater, Jr., as well as for Mayor Sam Yorty. And he was a columnist for Byte Magazine beginning in 1982.

News Note: Last week, in the January 28 2009 episode of this show, Jerry Pournelle mentioned his battle with a brain tumor, described the annoyances of his radiation treatment, and reported that he is now cancer-free.

 

Direct download: TFAY_2009_2_4.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 5:01 AM