Cryptocurrency Is Still In Its Messy Adolescence

Cryptocurrency Is Still In Its Messy Adolescence

"William Shatner has called crypto 'cyber-snob currency.'" There, in a single sentence, from this week’s (dis)enchanting Nick Paumgarten New Yorker story about Ethereum, is the entire cryptocurrency mess in eight words. First off: what kind of world are we in where William Shatner 1) even knows about cryptocurrency 2) has an opinion about it 3) gets quoted on that opinion in the New Yorker 4) is actually correct?

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Introducing the First Soonish Soundtrack Album, from Titlecard Music

Introducing the First Soonish Soundtrack Album, from Titlecard Music

It's been a privilege and an education to work with the composer/producer team of Joel Roston and Andrew Willis of Titlecard Music and Sound on this year's Soonish episodes. And now I'm thrilled to announce that Titlecard's original score from Episode 2.10, Making Music with Machines, is available for purchase at Bandcamp as a standalone album. Obtaining "pod-safe" music to set a mood, reinforce an emotional turning point, or help move a narrative along is a vexing challenge for independent podcast producers. For obvious legal reasons, it's important to…

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The Full Rudi Seitz Interview

The Full Rudi Seitz Interview

The second segment or "movement" in Soonish Episode 2.10, Making Music with Machines, is all about a basic form of musical counterpoint called the canon. And our guide to the canon is Rudi Seitz, who is such a devotee of the form that he has released an entire album of 45 original canons perform on the harpsichord. It's called, naturally, Canons. It's available on Bandcamp and it's wonderful to listen to. The segment in the full episode focuses on Rudi's philosophy about the role of software in music composition. He uses a standard music notation program called Finale, from Boulder, CO-based MakeMusic, to capture drafts of his canons, and he says…

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VIDEO: Meet Three of the Twelve Tomorrows Authors

VIDEO: Meet Three of the Twelve Tomorrows Authors

The MIT Press Bookstore hosted a standing-room-only crowd for a special June 5 event featuring three of the authors who contributed to the 2018 edition of Twelve Tomorrows: Elizabeth Bear, Lisa Huang, and Ken Liu. (They're also featured in Soonish 2.08: Sci-Fi That Takes Science Seriously.) Twelve Tomorrows is an anthology of original hard science fiction stories commissioned by MIT Technology Review, edited by me, and published by the MIT Press. This full video from the event includes readings from the book by Huang ("The Woman Who Destroyed Us"), Liu ("Byzantine Empathy"), and Bear ("Okay, Glory"). It also includes a panel discussion about

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Announcing Twelve Tomorrows—A "Hard SF" Anthology Offering Fictional Forays into the Future

Announcing Twelve Tomorrows—A "Hard SF" Anthology Offering Fictional Forays into the Future

I'm thrilled to announce the publication of Twelve Tomorrows, the science fiction anthology I edited for MIT Technology Review and The MIT Press. With help from assistant editor Mark Pontin, I recruited famous and up-and-coming voices in science fiction to write "hard SF" stories that offer deep, provocative, funny, frightening perspectives on how present-day technologies could evolve. The book includes 10 original short stories and a 20-page, full-color graphic novella. Soonish fans are invited to join me at 6:00 pm June 5 at the MIT Press Bookstore in Cambridge, MA, when I'll host an event with Twelve Tomorrows contributors Elizabeth Bear, SL Huang, and Ken Liu. The authors will read from their stories, and we'll discuss the role of hard science fiction in helping us understand how today's technologies are evolving.

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Live! A Soonish Story On Stage at Story Collider, April 15 2018

Live! A Soonish Story On Stage at Story Collider, April 15 2018

I'm thrilled (and a little intimidated) to be part of the lineup of storytellers bringing you tales of science, medicine, and technology as part of the Story Collider performance during the Cambridge Science Festival. The event will be at 8:00 pm on April 15 at the Oberon Theater in Harvard Square, Cambridge. Info about the show is here. You'll hear stories from pediatrician-in-training and youth development expert Dr. Elorm Avakame, clinical psychologist and relationship expert Dr. Monica O'Neal, filmmaker and NOVA science editor Caitlin Saks, celebrity chef Dan Souza, and me.

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Episode 2.05: The Future Is Clear, Full Script

Episode 2.05: The Future Is Clear, Full Script

As an experiment, I’m posting the full script for Episode 2.05, “The Future is Clear.” The conventional wisdom in the podcasting business is that posting full scripts of episodes is a good SEO move. That stands for Search Engine Optimization. In other words, if I post the full script, Google and other search engines might rank it highly it when people are searching for information about Corning, or Josh Simpson, or the MIT Glass Lab. I’ve never seen data to support this belief, but why not give it a try?

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Just Can't Get Enough of Soonish and the Future? Here Are Some Other Great Podcasts About Technology & Innovation

Just Can't Get Enough of Soonish and the Future? Here Are Some Other Great Podcasts About Technology & Innovation

I'm able to put out a new episode of Soonish every three to six weeks. For folks who love to think about the future, that's a long time to wait! To help tide you over, I've made a list of other podcasts and radio shows about science, technology, innovation, and the future that you might like. I aim to keep adding to this list. If you have a favorite future-oriented show that's not shown here, let me know!

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One Year of Soonish, Organized by Mood

One Year of Soonish, Organized by Mood

Soonish went public one year ago today, at a big party at the PRX Podcast Garage. It was only 12 months ago, but it feels like it was a different era. Barack Obama was president! No one had heard the term "alternative facts"! You could browse Twitter without fear of nuclear conflagration! But as we barrel into an unknown future, buffeted every day by news that gets stranger and stranger, I've managed to stay sane in part by just doing the work and making the show. We need to think clearly about the future, now more than ever. Having the freedom to focus on where technology is going, one episode at a time, has been a huge joy and privilege. I'm so thankful to everyone who has listened to the show over the past 12 months and to everyone who…

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Now You Can Find & Follow Soonish on NPR One

Now You Can Find & Follow Soonish on NPR One

We're thrilled to announce that Soonish is now part of the library of high-quality podcasts at NPR One. It's NPR's mobile listening app, featuring a customized blend of radio programs and podcasts from NPR, member stations, and independent partners. You can download NPR One for iOS and Android. Find Soonish inside the app by clicking the Search (magnifying glass) icon in the upper right of the screen and typing in "Soonish." From there you can listen to…

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Looking Back to Soonish's First Year, and Forward to the Future

Looking Back to Soonish's First Year, and Forward to the Future

Dear Friends: Before we all turn off the computers, put away the smartphones, and settle in for a long week of holiday relaxation, I wanted to reach out to all Soonish mail list subscribers, Patreon supporters, Facebook followers, and blog readers and thank you for helping to make this an amazing first year for the podcast. I launched the show on January 13, 2017, at the beginning of a year that has brimmed with political tumult and natural and human-made disasters. But with your help and encouragement, I've been able to stay focused on making the show, which reached a series of big milestones. 1) I produced 10 episodes in the show’s first season and five (so far) in the second season. With each episode, the show’s audience has grown bigger. I’m in a great position to reach lots of new listeners in 2018. 2) I’ve been able to test and refine the basic ideas driving the show, zeroing in on…

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VIDEO: Why "Office Space" Still Speaks To Us Today

VIDEO: Why "Office Space" Still Speaks To Us Today

Do you like science? Do you like movies? Then what could be better than a night at the movies with Science On Screen, the series created by the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline, MA, that pairs current, classic, cult, and documentary films with talks by notable figures from the world of science, technology, and medicine. I'm not sure I count as "notable," but at the Coolidge's invitation I gave a Science On Screen talk last week keyed to the classic 1999 comedy OFFICE SPACE from writer/director Mike Judge. The video of the talk was just posted online. Check it out…

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Join Me on November 6 for a "Science On Screen" Presentation of Mike Judge's "Office Space"

Join Me on November 6 for a "Science On Screen" Presentation of Mike Judge's "Office Space"

In Episode 1.08, Hacking Time, I argued that we’re not well served by the technology tools that promise to keep us productive and efficient at work. I’ve been searching for a long time, and I’ve never found the idea e-mail manager, the ideal calendar, or the ideal to-do list app. (Or the ideal robot-who-will-just-do-my-job-for-me.) All I really want is a tool that can help me manage all the information coming at me and meet my commitments in a stress-free way. But it turns out that technology can abet the problem rather than aiding with it.  So I’ve hacked together a combination of digital and analog methods as best I can. And I think lot of people still struggle to survive in workplaces where the constant stream of tasks and meetings and memos can be deadening. The up side to this truth is that it's the fuel for a lot of great office-comedy movies and TV shows—and Mike Judge’s Office Space (1999) is the granddaddy of them all…

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