We sit down again with John Allsopp to review and explore some of the themes explored in the first half of series one: the tensions between algorithms and flexibility, between the future and the past, between the human and the machine.
The smartphone is quite possibly the most important tool we’ve developed in the last two hundred years – a steam engine for the human mind. We use them to transform commerce, human connection, and play. The latest iPhones – iPhone 8 and iPhone X – point to where we’re going, where the device becomes so essential, and so much a part of ourselves, that they can intimately scan our faces to unlock their secrets.
Here’s a sample:
A billion seconds – or 31 and a half years – seems long to us. In the 13.7 billion year history of the universe, it’s not even an eyeblink. But the first billion seconds, those were very special indeed, giving us the foundations of the universe we see today. Astrophysicist Dr. Katie Mack joins us to discuss beginnings, endings – and what we hope to discover about the dark parts of our universe over the next billion seconds.
Pretty much every fact you’ll ever need for any problem you have to solve can now be accessed almost instantly through any smartphone. What does that mean about how we learn? And what about the places where we learn – schools and libraries? If everything is available everywhere, why go anywhere in search of knowledge? State Library of Victoria CEO Kate Torney explores why libraries have a future that remembers the past, yet looks out on a future where access to knowledge in only a part of the story.
When you give cows a voice, who listens? Connected lights and thermostats are great, but what happens when cows get connected and start milking themselves? What do we learn when we track our house cats when they’re not at home? How does the connected world reveal itself to us – and what are we learning from it? These questions – about autonomy, agency and authority – form the focus of anthropologist Genevieve Bell’s work, less for what they reveal about these animals than what they illuminate about ourselves. Are we listening to the connected world?
Here’s a taste:
Today, the majority of humanity lives in cities – yet we tend to be unaware of most of the resources and opportunities cities offer to their residents. ‘Sharing Cities’ expert Darren Sharp describes how ‘stuff, skills and spaces’ form the necessary inventory for any sharing city – and how that inventor can supercharge the lives of the residents in a sharing city. The cities to live in over the next billion seconds are the cities of sharing.
Dr. Andy Polaine helps companies design “living services”, the sorts of things that all of us interact with every day on our screens, through our smartphone apps, and behind the scenes. Should we trust those services? Andy offers some suggestions on how we can take a look ‘under the bonnet’ of the connected world.
Back in 2000, John Allsopp wrote A Dao of Web Design, about how we should think about the Web, its design, and its utility to us. Almost twenty years later we launch The Next Billion Seconds with a conversation about where the Web is going – and where it’s taking us.
Our conversation included a discussion about autonomous ‘self-driving’ cars – and will John’s four daughters learn to drive?
The answer seems to be in flux; in March 2018 a pedestrian was hit and killed by an autonomous vehicle, an accident that might set things back for years. I spoke with The Project about that sad event – watch the video here.