As we increasingly master the “base code” that underpins the biological, physical and cyber worlds we inhabit, how do we use this power responsibly?

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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

I’m sure that every generation has a point where its members believe they are at a pivotal point in human history. Sadly, generational exceptionalism rarely stands the test of time. Yet despite this, I believe that we truly are approaching a pivot point-not because of global warming, over-population, rampant resource abuse, or a myriad other critically important issues that we’re currently grappling with, but because of what I refer to in my 2018 book Films from the Future as our increasing mastery of “base code.”

To use an analogy from digital technologies, our phones, our computers and tablets, our smart…

To avoid challenges like those presently being faced in Texas, we need to get better at thinking differently about our relationship with the future

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Geocolor satellite imagery of Texas covered in snow in the aftermath of a historic winter storm. February 15, 2021. NOAA, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

As I write, Texas is slowly emerging from being pummeled by a deadly winter storm that left it in a state of mayhem. Millions lost access to heat and power during the storm, while a cascading series of events have led to compromised water supplies, an emerging healthcare crisis, and a growing death toll.

It’s easy to attribute the chaos to escalating threats associated with climate change. And indeed the climate blame-game has already begun around the storm fall-out in Texas.

Yet to reduce what we’re seeing to climate change alone would be short-sighted.

Certainly, there are in all probability…

YouTube is emerging as one of the most important platforms around for providing free, accessible, and informed expert content. But for the most part, academics are incredibly bad at taking advantage of it.

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Preparing for VidCon 2011

In 2011, my then-teenage kids dragged me to VidCon in Los Angeles and kick-started a 10-year journey into exploring how academics can use YouTube more effectively.

VidCon was created by brothers Hank and John Green as a glorious mixing-pot of YouTube celebs, content creators, and exuberant fans. In 2011 it was in its second year, and still small enough (and chaotic enough) for attendees to rub shoulders with some of the world’s top YouTube superstars.

I was, I must confess, initially bemused by the whole experience. I remember waiting in line at Starbucks with my son for instance and being…

A futurist’s guide to building the future you hope for (review)

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“The Future You: Break Through the Fear and Build the Life You Want” Brian David Johnson

“We’ve been sent the wrong book!” — this was my wife a week or so ago, on opening one of the increasingly ubiquitous Amazon packages that seem to litter our doorstep.

The package was a self-help book, and so out of character for me to purchase that my wife immediately assumed there’d been a mistake.

It’s not that I don’t need help — I’m as much of a hot mess as the next person — it’s just that I have other ways of navigating this, rather than diving into the latest volume on how to be successful/happy/rich/famous/etc.

But, counter to…

A review of “Covid-19 Conspiracy Theories: QAnon, 5G, the New World Order and Other Viral Ideas” by John Bodner, Wendy Welch and co-authors

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“Covid-19 Conspiracy Theories: QAnon, 5G, the New World Order and Other Viral Ideas” by John Bodner, Wendy Welch, Ian Brodie, Anna Muldoon, Donald Leach, and Ashley Marshall

The new book Covid-19 Conspiracy Theories: QAnon, 5G, the New World Order and Other Viral Ideas by John Bodner, Wendy Welch and their co-authors, should come with a public health warning: “If you’re easily disturbed, proceed with caution!” As the title suggests, this is a book that dives into the dark recesses of modern society, where ideas that might seem laughable in the bright light of day take on boogeyman-like proportions. …

Even though the future’s important, surprisingly few people are searching Google on how to ensure it’s better than the past

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If you search for the term “responsible innovation” on YouTube, the chances are that the first video you’ll see is “ A Practical Guide to Responsible Innovation.” And yet, since it was published in October 2020, the video has received less than 600 views.

It’s almost as if no-one’s interested in how to innovate responsibly!

Of course, there are many reasons why the number one YouTube video on responsible innovation is failing to attract eyeballs. …

For the past three years, I’ve taught responsible and ethical innovation through watching science fiction movies in class. This year, COVID has forced us online — can we achieve the same results without the in-person experience?

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This week was the start of what is possibly my favorite class to teach-The Moviegoer’s Guide to the Future in the Arizona State University College of Global Futures! It’s a class that uses science fiction movies to explore the subtleties surrounding socially responsible and ethical innovation. And as you might expect from the title, it’s one that’s firmly focused on the skills and perspectives needed to build a better future.

I first taught the class in 2018, and since then it’s regularly attracted between 80–100 committed undergrads specializing in everything from business to biology. In the class, we aim to…

As we accelerate into a future that’s increasingly precarious, we cannot afford to take time out from developing the knowledge and skills necessary to navigate it

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Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash

As I write, over 1.8 million people have died of COVID around the world, with more than 80 million cases reported, infections continuing to rise, and a growing number of people who are intent on endangering their lives and those of others through their disregard of good public health practices, disbelief in the virus’ existence, or disdain for efforts to contain it.

As an Associate Dean in a college that’s committed to helping build a better future, it’s a pretty inauspicious end to what has been an incredibly tough year.

Yet beyond the challenges, the misery, and the pain that…

No matter how compelling our technologies are, they are only as good as the trust people have in the organizations that develop and govern them.

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TIGTech — Seven Drivers of Trust

We’re standing at a pivotal point in our collective response to the coronavirus pandemic. The first vaccine against the virus is beginning to be rolled out, with others hot on its heels, and we can begin to imagine a post-COVID future albeit tentatively.

Yet despite the incredible strides being made, hope is being tempered by hesitancy-and sometimes downright distrust-as a growing number of people question the safety of the vaccine, and even the motives behind it.

It’s easy to dismiss this resistance to the COVID vaccine as irrational thinking, a rejection of science, and an unquestioning acceptance of misinformation and…

We’ve never had more ability to build a better future, or a greater capacity to blow it!

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Image by Lumina Obscura from Pixabay

Whichever way you look at it, 2020 is a year that has strained our relationship with the future like never before. And unless we rethink this relationship, we could be heading for a catastrophic breakup that will ultimately serve no-one.

As I write, we’re caught up in a perfect storm of political turmoil, social injustice, and a devastating global pandemic. And it feels like we’re drowning.

These are all symptoms of deeper tensions between our collective ability to influence and change the future, and our capacity to do this effectively. …

Andrew Maynard

Author of Future Rising: A Journey from the Past to the Edge of Tomorrow, and Associate Dean in the ASU College of Global Futures

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