Author Archives: Jon Perry

081: Discussion of Facebook and Privacy

In today’s episode we wade into the ongoing societal conversation around social media and privacy that has been taking place in the wake of the recent Facebook scandal. But before getting started we do some follow up on previous discussion topics: existential risk and self driving cars. Next, after a quick rehash of the Cambridge Analytica data breach, we discuss ways to think about privacy and data and consider some of the pros and cons of government regulation in this area.

Links Relevant to Privacy and Facebook

Follow Up Links

Links That Benefit Us Personally

080: Discussion of Self Driving Cars and Body Scanning

For the first time ever, today’s episode was recorded and uploaded on the same day, with no editing. As part of our push to get more content out quicker, we are taking steps towards a live radio format. On this podcast, we discuss coverage of the recent Uber self driving car accident. What does the tone of the coverage suggest about peoples fears and willingness to adopt this new technology? Later, we discuss the imminent rise of full body scans, and their potential usefulness as clothing models, fitness trackers, VR avatars, and even fodder for bizarre art.

Relevant Links

078: Discussion of Black Mirror and Altered Carbon

As part of our new casual discussion series, we do two mini reviews of recent science fiction TV shows. Jon shares his critiques of the the first episode of the new season of Black Mirror, while Ted offers his impressions of the new show Altered Carbon. Although we found some things to appreciate, in general we are not fans of these shows. We suggest reading Crystal Nights or The Peripheral instead. Or maybe watching Rick and Morty.

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077: Robin Hanson on The Elephant in the Brain

Today we are rejoined by professor and friend of the podcast Robin Hanson. Robin has just co-authored a fascinating new book called The Elephant in the Brain. This book examines our hidden motives, and while it has nothing directly to do with the future, it does have significant implications for policy and institutional design. Robin is also an accomplished futurist (as exemplified by his other excellent book Age of Em) and so were able to press him on the possible future implications of his thesis and come up with some interesting answers.

You can learn more about his book here.

076: What Happens When We Design Babies?

In this episode we discuss the prospect of designer babies. As genetic engineering and reproductive technologies continue to advance, parents are likely to gain unprecedented control over their offspring. We discuss some of the recent progress in germ line engineering and speculate about the degree of manipulation that might be possible in the near term. But perhaps more importantly, we discuss some of the ethical and policy implications of such advances. Will designer babies pave the way for a healthier and happier society or are we in for a more dystopian outcome?

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074: Are We Living in a Simulation?

Thanks in part to Elon Musk and other popularizers, many people have encountered the notion that we might be living in a simulation. However, far fewer people are familiar with the exact details of Nick Bostrom’s “Simulation Argument”, the paper from which much of the conversation originated. In this podcast, we attempt to do justice to Bostrom’s argument by laying it out in a clear and organized fashion. After accomplishing that task, we devolve into our typical ad hoc speculation.  Should we be worried about being shut down? Are people living in other countries actually just illusions? What is the David Bowie Theory of Simulation and why is it so important? These questions and more on this episode of Review the Future.

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X011: Future Express | The Replication Crisis and Challenges to Progress

In this episode, we have a free-ranging conversation that begins by discussing the modern replication crisis in psychology and other fields. We examine how this development might affect our views on the pace of progress generally. Amidst our many tangents, we consider the possibility of getting tech companies to share their proprietary data for the sake of science research and wonder if becoming an increasingly globalized society imposes coordination costs.

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X010: Future Express | Attention Economics and Loyalty of Digital Assistants

In this episode, we discuss the modern Darwinian battle for attention currently playing out on the global internet. We consider some of the psychological methods that have been and will be developed for capturing and keeping people’s attention. We wonder whether the solution that will help us navigate this growing war for our eyeballs is digital assistant technology that can better help us cut through the noise.

Relevant Links

X002: Future Express | Autonomous Weapons and Brain to Brain Interfaces

In this second ever Future Express episode, Jon and Ted each bring a different topic to the table. Jon raises the issue of banning autonomous weapons, the subject of an open letter released last year and of an upcoming UN review conference. Ted shares an article about brain to brain communication, a pathway to technologically enabled telepathy.

Relevant Links


In today’s podcast, we review an episode of the British television series Black Mirror. Black Mirror is an anthology show that presents a dark spin on our relationship with technology. The series, despite its flaws, is highly entertaining and full of interesting thought experiments. Today we are focusing on the Christmas special, a longer episode that deals with some our favorite topics: augmented reality, privacy, and emulated brains. Although we recommend watching the episode before listening to this podcast, we do summarize the plot as we go for the benefit of people who have not yet seen Black Mirror.

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069: What are the Possibilities of Augmented Reality?

In today’s podcast we offer a broad survey of augmented reality. How will the social and economic aspects of our lives be different in a world where computers are constantly altering our vision? What are the main benefits that AR has over VR? How does one even define augmented reality anyway?

Relevant Links

068: Does Life Have Meaning in a World Without Work?

In today’s podcast we get philosophical about work and the meaning of life. Repeat guest John Danaher steers us away from the traditional arguments surrounding technological unemployment and towards a different set of questions: Is it possible for humans to have a meaningful existence in a world where they’ve been completely sidelined by machines? Is a life of game playing and pursuing beauty the best outcome we can hope for? Or is integrating with our technology a possible defense against future irrelevance?

Relevant Links and Related Episodes

067: Should You Sign Up for Cryonics?

In today’s podcast, we discuss cryonics, a topic we only recently became interested in. After a general overview of what cryonics is and where it comes from, we try to determine whether or not cryonics is a service we would sign up for. The rational arguments in favor of cryonics seem to be very strong, and the cost of cryonics, while significant, is not so high as to be out of reach. However, we do still have some reservations. For now we remain “cryo-curious” – sympathetic to the technology but not yet signed up. Hopefully this episode will trigger our listeners to begin their own thought process regarding this fascinating proposition.

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066: George Dvorsky on “What is the Future of Human Advancement?”


In today’s podcast, Jon talks with futurist and bioethicist George Dvorsky about the future of human enhancement. Topics covered include radical life extension, editing the human germline, multiplex parenting, artificial wombs, intelligence augmentation, moral enhancement, and more. What enhancements are just around the corner, and how cautious should we be when it comes to enhancing human beings? Is there any merit to the arguments of bioconservatives, or are most of their concerns lacking solid grounding? How can we get over the creepiness hurdle and begin to normalize these conversations?


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065: What is the Future of Virtual Assistants?

In today’s podcast, we discuss the future of virtual assistant software. A long list of major companies and startups are racing to develop voice activated software that can help organize your life. Today’s assistant apps are still incredibly primitive, but it appears they may get considerably better in the near future. We identify and analyze three major trends that are poised to make computers into more powerful assistants: natural language interfaces, big data, and increasing autonomy. Will you be able to trust your virtual assistant not to steer you toward products you don’t need? Will social interactions be increasingly influenced by the realtime suggestions of virtual advisors? Will “being good with computers” stop being a relevant descriptor once everyone has easy access to powerful natural language interfaces?

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Related Episodes

064: Calum Chace on “Is it Time to Start Worrying About AI?”

In today’s episode, Jon speaks with Calum Chace, author of the new nonfiction book Surviving AI. The potential risk posed by superintelligent AI has recently gained unprecedented coverage in the mainstream press, thanks to the release of Nick Bostrom’s book Superintelligence and public statements by the likes of Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Stephen Hawking. In our discussion we explore some of the fundamental questions surrounding this issue such as: how soon will artificial general intelligence arrive? How likely is it to be dangerous? And is a hard takeoff or soft takeoff more likely? While AGI may still be a long way off, the extraordinarily high stakes suggest we should devote a few more resources to studying this highly unique issue facing humanity.


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062: What is the Future of Brain-Computer Interfaces?

In today’s episode we talk about brain-computer interfaces. We discuss the range of available invasive and non-invasive sensor options, the difficulties of processing brain signals, and the wide variety of ways computers might use realtime brain data.  While it’s clear that BCIs promise incredible benefits to people who are paralyzed, it’s less clear how extensively BCIs will benefit able-bodied humans. We explore what some of those benefits (and dangers) might be.

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061: What is the Future of Movies?

In today’s podcast, we discuss the future of movies. We begin by addressing virtual reality and asking what impacts it will have on traditional moviemaking. In recent times, the cost of making an independent film has gone way down, and we consider whether those costs can drop even further, possibly as a result of better virtual filmmaking and machinima tools. Next, we analyze the shift towards greater serialization in movies and the rising dominance of television. Finally, we speculate wildly about the length of future movies, the effect of accelerating change on storytelling settings, personalized algorithmic movie production, and more.

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060: Scott Santens on “Is Basic Income Part of Our Future and Should It Be?”

In today’s episode we are joined by basic income advocate Scott Santens. Scott explains his version of a basic income and how it might be paid for. Although future technological unemployment might increase the need for a basic income, there are actually many reasons besides concerns about automation to adopt such a policy. We discuss the various advantages of basic income over our current social programs and consider the Alaska model as one that might be exportable to the rest of the US. Lastly, we address the issue of feasibility: basic income sounds nice on paper, but could such a program ever actually get implemented?

Articles by Scott

 Other Relevant Links

058: What are the Top Ten Ways Science Fiction Fails to Predict the Future?

In today’s episode we give a comprehensive list of the sci-fi tropes that bother us the most. While not all science fiction has an obligation to be speculative, we would like to see more science fiction that avoids certain cliches when it comes to predicting the future. We discuss the following tropes:

  • The Prometheus Problem
  • The Boot-in-the-face Dystopia
  • Societal Regression
  • Super Now
  • Isolated technological Advancement
  • The Lone Inventor
  • Human Specialness
  • Primacy of the Real
  • Unnecessary Anthropomorphism
  • The Sofalarity

To find out what these terms mean, listen to the episode!

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Full List of Referenced Science Fiction Works, Authors, Characters:

057: Nikola Danaylov on “What Do Experts Think About the Singularity?”

In today’s podcast we are joined by Nikola Danaylov, host of the popular Singularity 1 on 1 podcast, and a man who has interviewed 170 experts about singularity related topics. After establishing the meaning of the term singularity, we discuss the wide range of opinions held by thinkers in the field. We learn that although there is no single consensus. there are some clusterings of opinion, a few of which fall upon disciplinary lines. Nikola reveals that after doing his show for five years, he is less convinced the singularity will happen then he used to be. After walking through the various routes that could get us to a singularity, we discuss the validity of accelerating returns and the need for diversity in the future. Finally, we conclude by considering the current state of the futurist community.


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Review the Future now has an IOS app

screen322x572Thanks to a new company called Podcast Pop (a venture started by our good friends over at the Smart Drug Smarts podcast) we now have a dedicated app for Review the Future!

Among other features, the app makes it super easy to browse old episodes from our archive, save your favorites, and remember where in a given episode you left off. According to the people at Podcast Pop, more features should be rolling out soon.

Currently the app is only available for IOS, which is unfortunate for Android users, but I expect that will change in the near future as well.

Available in the iTunes store.

054: Martin Ford on “Are We Heading for a Jobless Future?”

In today’s podcast, we talk with Martin Ford about his new book Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future. We discuss which job sectors are most vulnerable to automation in the near future and to what degree technology might be the driving force behind troubling economic trends. Martin describes his version of a basic income, which features built-in tiers and incentives. He also responds to some of the skepticism leveled at his writing by reviewers such as Robin Hanson. All in all, we found it to be a fascinating discussion.


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