Through Conversations

Building The Future

Episode Summary

In this episode, Andrew Maynard joins us. He is a scientist, author, and one of the nation’s leading thinkers on socially responsible and ethical innovation.

Episode Notes

In this episode, Andrew Maynard joins us. He is a scientist, author, and one of the nation’s leading thinkers on socially responsible and ethical innovation. 

His work involves exploring the socially responsible and responsive development of emerging and converging technologies, including synthetic biology and gene editing, nanotechnology, and artificial intelligence.

As Director of the ASU Risk Innovation Lab, he is pushing the boundaries of how we think about risk and learn to succeed as we develop increasingly complex technologies. Andrew is also an active member of World Economic Forum's Council on Nanotechnology.

Andrew’s popular science/technology book Films from the Future explores socially responsible and ethical approaches to innovation through the lens of twelve science fiction movies, while his latest book, Future Rising, takes readers on a unique journey through humanity’s relationship with the future, and our responsibility to it. You can pre-order it using this link, I've already pre-ordered mine.


This episode will air during one of the most uncertain times I have ever experienced. The world is facing a big challenge with the outbreak of COVID-19 and it seems to be stress-testing most of the complex systems our daily lives rely upon, such as the economy, healthcare, court systems, geopolitics, and so forth. 

That being said, I am confident that we will excel in solving this challenge and, most importantly, that we will learn from this crisis and start to take a more humble approach to life, rather than just continue to do the things we do as if nothing happened.

This episode -- and the books that Andrew has written - - have taught me a lot about our relationship with the future and the responsibility to it. This conversation comes as a remainder that all of us are designers of the future, and we can create it as a "better place than the one we came from"

As Sam Harris puts it, without further delay I bring you, Andrew Maynard.



Books: Future Rising: A Journey from the Past to the Edge of Tomorrow and Films from the Future: The Technology and Morality of Sci-Fi Movies

Twitter: @2020Science

YouTube Channel: Risk Bites



(2:45) Andrew’s Trajectory.

(5:11) Sci-Fi Movies as a way of teaching everyone that the future involves everyone.

(6:12) The problem with mining / the risks of mining.

(7:21) Complex Systems and how COVID-19 has affected them.

(8:50) Andrew’s take on COVID-19.

(10:09) Risk Bites on Youtube - A guide for students living with coronavirus.

(11:29) What can we do to prevent getting infected with COVID-19.

(12:24) The biggest challenge with COVID-19.

(13:39) Films From The Future: How it relates with what’s happening in today’s world and with COVID-19.

(14:54) Will COVID-19 teach us humility?

(17:54) Films From The Future and Future Rising: the distinction between them.

(18:00) Films From The Future.

(18:19) Future as an object: a different way of thinking about the future and understand our relationship with it.

(19:06) Future Rising.

(19:18) A responsibly-created future.

(19:45) Earth as a spaceship.

(20:15) Consciously thinking about the future.

(21:07) Our spaceship need maintenance.

(22:18) What’s the relation with sci-fi movies and the technologies we create?

(23:18) Do sci-fi movies create the ideas of the technologies we make, or do pre-existing technologies while recording sci-fi movies push innovation?

(23:42) Minority Report and its relevance in today’s world.

(24:25) The hidden consequences of Alexa, Siri, Google Play.

(24:37) Do we think before we adopt new technologies?

(25:30) FAMA - A talent screening software.

(26:12) Are we treating people as means and not ends when it comes to creating new technologies? How will new technologies affect individuals in their daily lives?

(27:50) Can Artificial Intelligence Machines deceive us?

(29:20) Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence live in the Fifth Dimension - WOW.

(30:40) Should we focus on understanding the human brain first before we create an Artificial one?

(31:05) How can we create an AI machine without biases, if the ones who are creating them have biases themselves?

(32:50) Having humility is vital to create sentient machines - WOW.

(33:34) The power of “What If” Questions in creating the future.

(34:20) A Transhumanist perspective on the future of the human species.

(35:32) The power of our biological heritage: Resiliency - WOW.

(37:11) Possibility vs Probability: What’s the difference?

(38:05) Is it likely that we can live in a world with Universal Basic Income?

(39:10) Can we excel as human beings without needing to work?

(40:40) could UBI transform people’s lives and help them create the life they want?

(43:08) Can we price in the uncertainty variable in the technologies we create?

(44:30) Distinction Between Fragile Complex Systems and Adaptable Complex Systems.

(45:36) What makes us, us?

(46:00) We are at a point where we can conceive creating artificial sentient beings - WOW.

(47:20) The technologies we create reflect our own values, our own soul - WOW.

(47:55) Are we creating our technologies with the intention of making them beautiful, such as art?

(49:10) Our technology reflects who we are - WOW.

(49:46) Morality and Ethics and their relationship with the future of technology.

(50:00) The future of Cloning (Never Let Me Go).

(51:20) Will a clone have a soul?

(52:12) Declaration of Cloning - The relationship between religion and the technologies we create.

(53:55) Let’s focus on what’s amazing of our humanity and what surrounds us - WOW.

(54:30) We are a creation worthy of respect.

(56:00) The future belongs to all of us who are creating it, not only experts.

(56:55) The risks and benefits of having a consensus about the future we are building.

(59:00) The distinction between “should we do it” and “can we do it”.

(1:00:42) Can science and philosophy work together?

(1:02:15) What future does Andrew see in the next twenty years? What’s his own vision of it?

(1:03:25) Having a future where more people can create what they imagine - WOW.

(1:04:00) Closing remarks.


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