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The Secret History of the Future

Slate

286
Followers
554
Plays
The Secret History of the Future
The Secret History of the Future

The Secret History of the Future

Slate

286
Followers
554
Plays
OVERVIEWEPISODESYOU MAY ALSO LIKE

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About Us

Journey into the past, and you'll discover the secret history of the future. From the world's first cyberattack in 1834, to 19th-century virtual reality, The Economist's Tom Standage and Slate's Seth Stevenson examine the historical precedents that can transform our understanding of modern technology, predicting how it might evolve and highlighting pitfalls to avoid. Discovering how people reacted to past innovations can also teach us about ourselves.

Latest Episodes

S2E10: New Media, Old Story

Radio was originally a social medium, as early radio sets (each of which could transmit as well as receive) turned cities into giant chatrooms, populated by Morse Code-tapping enthusiasts. But the excitement of this democratic, digital platform did not last, and radio was tamed by corporate interests in the 1920s. The utopian dream of platforms that are open and meritocratic has been reborn in the internet era in the form of blogging, and more recently podcasting. But can it ever come true? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

42 MINSEP 4
Comments
S2E10: New Media, Old Story

S2E9: A Brief History Of Timekeeping

The first mechanical clocks were made to summon monks to prayer. Ever since, timekeeping technology has often been about control and obligation. But underneath a mountain in Texas, a new kind of clock is being built that’s meant to alter the way we think about time. Can it force us to connect our distant past with our distant future, tick by tick? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

36 MINAUG 28
Comments
S2E9: A Brief History Of Timekeeping

S2E8: Salvation In The Air

At the dawn of the 20th century, chemists dreamed of extracting nitrogen from the air and turning it into a limitless supply of fertiliser. Sceptics thought they were crazy -- it was possible in theory, but it was unclear if it could be done in practice. What happened next changed the course of 20th-century history, and provides inspiration to innovators pursuing a different dream today: sucking carbon dioxide out of the air to avert climate change. Might they not be quite so crazy after all? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

37 MINAUG 21
Comments
S2E8: Salvation In The Air

S2E7: A Bug In The System

The first ever computer program was written in 1843 by Ada Lovelace, a mathematician who hoped her far-sighted treatise on mechanical computers would lead to a glittering scientific career. Today, as we worry that modern systems suffer from “algorithmic bias” against some groups of people, what can her program tell us about how software, and the people who make it, can go wrong? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

36 MINAUG 14
Comments
S2E7: A Bug In The System

Dots, Dashes, and Dating Apps

In the 19th century, young people wooed each other over the telegraph. But meeting strangers on the wires could lead to confusion, disappointment, and even fraud. Do modern online dating apps have anything to learn from telegraph romances? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

36 MINAUG 7
Comments
Dots, Dashes, and Dating Apps

Mars on Earth

Polar exploration was the Victorian equivalent of the space race. Major powers vied to outdo each other, funding expeditions to the most inhospitable parts of the world as demonstrations of their supremacy over nature and each other. Today, the resulting tales of triumph and tragedy hold valuable lessons about what to do—and what not to do—as human explorers plan missions to Mars. Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

37 MINJUL 31
Comments
Mars on Earth

Meat and Potatoes

The potato seemed strange and unappetizing when it first arrived in Europe. But it grew into a wonder food that helped solve the continent’s hunger problems. Can its journey tell us what to expect from current efforts to replace animal meat with societally healthier meat alternatives made from plants, insects, or cells grown in petri dishes? Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

39 MINJUL 24
Comments
Meat and Potatoes

Unreliable Evidence

In the early 20th century a new forensic technique—fingerprinting—displaced a cruder form of identification based on body measurements. Hailed as modern, scientific, and infallible, fingerprinting was adopted around the world. But in recent years doubts have been cast on its reliability, and a new technique—DNA profiling—has emerged as the forensic gold standard. In assuming it is infallible, are we making the same mistake again? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

31 MINJUL 17
Comments
Unreliable Evidence

Second Wind

For thousands of years we sailed our cargo across oceans using zero-emission, 100 percent renewable wind. Then we switched to ships that run on oil, creating a global maritime fleet that pumps greenhouse gases into the sky. Could we go back to wind-powered ships by rediscovering a clever nautical innovation that we abandoned a century ago? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

33 MINJUL 10
Comments
Second Wind

A Familiar Tune

The 19th century invention of the phonograph left composers worried they might not be paid for recordings. The 20th century proliferation of digital sampling outmoded old copyright laws. Can these previous tech disruptions of the music business teach us how to handle a 21st century onslaught of computers that can compose their own songs? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

43 MINJUL 3
Comments
A Familiar Tune

Latest Episodes

S2E10: New Media, Old Story

Radio was originally a social medium, as early radio sets (each of which could transmit as well as receive) turned cities into giant chatrooms, populated by Morse Code-tapping enthusiasts. But the excitement of this democratic, digital platform did not last, and radio was tamed by corporate interests in the 1920s. The utopian dream of platforms that are open and meritocratic has been reborn in the internet era in the form of blogging, and more recently podcasting. But can it ever come true? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

42 MINSEP 4
Comments
S2E10: New Media, Old Story

S2E9: A Brief History Of Timekeeping

The first mechanical clocks were made to summon monks to prayer. Ever since, timekeeping technology has often been about control and obligation. But underneath a mountain in Texas, a new kind of clock is being built that’s meant to alter the way we think about time. Can it force us to connect our distant past with our distant future, tick by tick? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

36 MINAUG 28
Comments
S2E9: A Brief History Of Timekeeping

S2E8: Salvation In The Air

At the dawn of the 20th century, chemists dreamed of extracting nitrogen from the air and turning it into a limitless supply of fertiliser. Sceptics thought they were crazy -- it was possible in theory, but it was unclear if it could be done in practice. What happened next changed the course of 20th-century history, and provides inspiration to innovators pursuing a different dream today: sucking carbon dioxide out of the air to avert climate change. Might they not be quite so crazy after all? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

37 MINAUG 21
Comments
S2E8: Salvation In The Air

S2E7: A Bug In The System

The first ever computer program was written in 1843 by Ada Lovelace, a mathematician who hoped her far-sighted treatise on mechanical computers would lead to a glittering scientific career. Today, as we worry that modern systems suffer from “algorithmic bias” against some groups of people, what can her program tell us about how software, and the people who make it, can go wrong? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

36 MINAUG 14
Comments
S2E7: A Bug In The System

Dots, Dashes, and Dating Apps

In the 19th century, young people wooed each other over the telegraph. But meeting strangers on the wires could lead to confusion, disappointment, and even fraud. Do modern online dating apps have anything to learn from telegraph romances? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

36 MINAUG 7
Comments
Dots, Dashes, and Dating Apps

Mars on Earth

Polar exploration was the Victorian equivalent of the space race. Major powers vied to outdo each other, funding expeditions to the most inhospitable parts of the world as demonstrations of their supremacy over nature and each other. Today, the resulting tales of triumph and tragedy hold valuable lessons about what to do—and what not to do—as human explorers plan missions to Mars. Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

37 MINJUL 31
Comments
Mars on Earth

Meat and Potatoes

The potato seemed strange and unappetizing when it first arrived in Europe. But it grew into a wonder food that helped solve the continent’s hunger problems. Can its journey tell us what to expect from current efforts to replace animal meat with societally healthier meat alternatives made from plants, insects, or cells grown in petri dishes? Slate Plus members get bonus segments and ad-free podcast feeds. Sign up now. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

39 MINJUL 24
Comments
Meat and Potatoes

Unreliable Evidence

In the early 20th century a new forensic technique—fingerprinting—displaced a cruder form of identification based on body measurements. Hailed as modern, scientific, and infallible, fingerprinting was adopted around the world. But in recent years doubts have been cast on its reliability, and a new technique—DNA profiling—has emerged as the forensic gold standard. In assuming it is infallible, are we making the same mistake again? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

31 MINJUL 17
Comments
Unreliable Evidence

Second Wind

For thousands of years we sailed our cargo across oceans using zero-emission, 100 percent renewable wind. Then we switched to ships that run on oil, creating a global maritime fleet that pumps greenhouse gases into the sky. Could we go back to wind-powered ships by rediscovering a clever nautical innovation that we abandoned a century ago? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

33 MINJUL 10
Comments
Second Wind

A Familiar Tune

The 19th century invention of the phonograph left composers worried they might not be paid for recordings. The 20th century proliferation of digital sampling outmoded old copyright laws. Can these previous tech disruptions of the music business teach us how to handle a 21st century onslaught of computers that can compose their own songs? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

43 MINJUL 3
Comments
A Familiar Tune