Future Perfect

By Vox

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 Apr 1, 2019

 Mar 6, 2019


Explore provocative ideas with the potential to radically improve the world. Vox’s Dylan Matthews tackles big questions about the most effective ways to save lives, fight global warming, and end world poverty to create a more perfect future. Produced by Vox and the Vox Media Podcast Network.

Episode Date
Bonus: The power of the President
The 2020 candidates have some bold ideas to tackle some of our country's biggest problems, like climate change, the opioid crisis, and unaffordable health care. A lot of their proposals have been tried in the past. This season, The Impact has those stories: how the big ideas from 2020 candidates succeeded — or failed — in other places, or at other times. What can Sen. Elizabeth Warren's proposal to fight the opioid crisis learn from what the US did to fight the AIDS epidemic? How did Germany — an industrial powerhouse that invented the automobile — manage to implement a Green New Deal? How did public health insurance change Taiwan? Subscribe to The Impact on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app to automatically get new episodes of the latest season each week. On this special preview: President Gerald Ford took office at one of the most difficult times in the country’s history. In August 1974, the country had just lived through Watergate, President Nixon’s resignation, and more than a decade of divisive fighting over the U.S. involvement in Vietnam. While millions of Americans fought in Southeast Asia, many others protested the war, at home -- or dodged the draft by fleeing to Canada. Ford wanted to find a way to bring the country together. Just a few weeks after he took office, he announced a plan to give those who refused to serve in Vietnam a second chance. Ford created a Clemency Review Board, a bipartisan group of men (and one woman) that would decide the fate of the young Americans convicted of refusing induction, or going AWOL, from Vietnam. Those young men could fill out an application, and the board would decide whether they deserved a pardon -- which would erase a felony conviction from their record. Many of the Democratic candidates for President want to do the same thing today. They’re proposing a Clemency Review Board to review applications from federal inmates, many of whom are serving long sentences because of harsh penalties enacted during the War on Drugs. In this episode: forgiveness and redress after two long conflicts, the Vietnam War, and the War on Drugs. The Impact looks back at how Ford tried to heal the nation, and how he transformed the lives of two men as a result. And we’ll find out how Ford’s idea might work today, for a new generation of young people behind bars. Host: Jillian Weinberger, @jbweinz About Vox: Vox is a news network that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines. Follow Us: Vox.com  Newsletter: Vox Sentences Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jan 15, 2020
Introducing Reset
Josiah Zayner is a biohacker who’s famous for, among other things, injecting himself with the gene-editing tool CRISPR. At a time when the technology exists for us to change, or hack, our own DNA, what are the ethics of experimenting on ourselves, and others at home? Arielle Duhaime-Ross has been following Zayner’s story and talks to him about how he’s thinking about human experimentation today. Plus: new efforts to come up with a code of conduct for biohackers, from legislation to self-regulation. About Reset Every story is a tech story. We live in a world where algorithms drive our interests, scientists are re-engineering our food supply, and a robot may be your next boss. Arielle Duhaime-Ross explores why–and how–tech is changing everything. If you enjoyed this episode, subscribe to Reset for free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, Pocket Casts, or your favorite podcast app to get new episodes every week. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Oct 22, 2019
Introducing Land of the Giants
Land of the Giants is a new podcast from Recode and the Vox Media Podcast Network about the five major technology companies (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google – or “FAANG”) that have reshaped our world. Each season focuses on one of the giants and explores the ways that it’s changed our lives – for better and for worse. The first season is about The Rise of Amazon and is hosted by Recode’s Jason Del Rey. Enjoy this special preview of the first episode, Why You’ll Never Quit Amazon Prime, and subscribe to Land of the Giants for free in your favorite podcast app to hear the rest of the episode and to get new episodes automatically.

Jul 31, 2019
The money in the moon
Fifty years ago this summer, Apollo 11 landed on the moon.

Now, NASA’s talking about going back.

But is it worth it?

We talk to lunar geologists about what we’ve already learned from the first Apollo missions, and what’s left to discover.

Then, we take a trip, not through space, but through time—back to a scientific expedition in Greenland almost a century ago. The science done there might have seemed insignificant at the time, but has since proved an important first step towards our current understanding of global warming.

Further reading:

Brian's in-depth explainer on moon rocks

Jon Gertner's book about epic Greenland expeditions, The Ice At The End of The World

For more on ice coring, this National Geographic article is great, as is this 60 Minutes episode
Jul 17, 2019
Your PTA vs. equality
Big philanthropists can threaten democracy. But so can small ones, like you and me. One big example? Parent-teacher associations. We examine how rich PTAs can hoard opportunity and deny resources to poor kids.
Jul 10, 2019
Move fast and break schools
When Mark Zuckerberg gave $100 million to Newark’s schools, he raised a big question: Who will decide where this money goes? The answer: Not the people of Newark. We examine why the people of Newark turned against a gift that Zuckerberg and Cory Booker wanted them to celebrate.
Jul 03, 2019
Who's afraid of killer robots?
Most charity is focused on the near term. So what happens when you try to only give to charities that will help humans a long time from now — not just in 100 years, but in a million years? To find out, we talk to Jaan Tallinn, a founding engineer of Skype who is trying to force the world to take threats to the future, threats like AI, seriously.
Jun 26, 2019
Donors from beyond the grave
Billions of dollars are donated every year from the fortunes of people who’ve died but are using their wills to influence our world from beyond the grave. Some of these zombie donors left instructions that are racist, classist, or just silly. So how do we free ourselves from the grip of the undead?
Jun 19, 2019
Sim City, Wisconsin
Diane Hendricks is the richest self-made woman in America, and she has used her fortune to remake the city of Beloit, Wisconsin. But she’s also used her riches to bankroll former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and to crush unions in the state. In this episode: How do we reconcile Beloiters’ love for her with her broader effects on the state?
Jun 12, 2019
A foundation-funded atrocity
In the 1950s and ’60s, Western foundations like Ford and Rockefeller pushed hard to control India's population by sterilizing its people. In 1975, India's government expanded that disturbing practice into a massive atrocity. How did this happen — and how can we prevent it from happening again?
Jun 05, 2019
He bought the law
John M. Olin isn’t a household name, but his foundation helped create the Federalist Society, turned federal judges against environmental protection and unions, and bankrolled conservative polemicists like Dinesh D’Souza. How did one small foundation do so much to advance conservatism?
May 29, 2019
Gilded Rage
To put our new age of extreme inequality in perspective, we look back at Andrew Carnegie, who gave America a huge number of libraries so they’d forgive him for his brutal steel mills. We ask: Is the same thing happening in 2019?
May 22, 2019
Season 2: Philanthropy vs. Democracy
On the second season of Future Perfect: how philanthropy clashes with democracy. First episode drops Wednesday, May 22nd.

Subscribe on your favorite podcast app! 
May 16, 2019
How to pick a career that counts
What do you want to be when you grow up? Do you want to make a lot of money, or follow your bliss, even if it’s not lucrative? The group 80,000 Hours has a different suggestion: Think of your career as a chance to do a ton of good, and try to find the job that lets you help the most people you can. It’s a simple rule, but, as Julia Wise and Jeff Kaufman have found, it’s anything but simple in practice. ––– Further reading: 80,000 Hours’s career guide Jeff Kaufman’s blog, where he breaks down his and Julia Wise’s contributions Julia Wise’s blog, Giving Gladly Larissa MacFarquhar profiles Julia Wise in the Guardian More of Vox’s effective altruism coverage ––– Discover more podcasts from Vox here. 
Nov 28, 2018
How to save a species (if you really want to)
The black-footed ferret was thought extinct — until a Wyoming rancher rediscovered it, in 1981. Since then, conservation workers have been doggedly attempting to save the ferret, only to run into big problems like, oh, the literal bubonic plague. We’re still spending millions every year attempting, hope against hope, to save the ferrets. How much should we spend to save an endangered species — and is it ever time to give up? ––– Further reading: The Black-Footed Ferret Conservation Center in Wellington, Colorado Earl Gustkey, in 1985, explains the then-recent rediscovery of the black-footed ferret for the LA Times Morgan Heim explains the reintroduction process in Smithsonian magazine Revive & Restore’s project to save the black-footed ferret with CRISPR More of Vox’s effective altruism coverage ––– Discover more podcasts from Vox here. 
Nov 21, 2018
How to be a better carnivore
Most fish die by slowly suffocating to death on the deck of a boat, struggling for air. That’s horrendously cruel, but it also makes for acidic, rubbery, smelly fish. There’s another way: ikejime, a Japanese method of fish slaughter where the fish is stabbed in the skull and dies instantly with a minimum of pain. That’s good for the animals — and, our guest Andrew Tsui argues, it makes for much tastier food. ––– Further reading: Cat Ferguson’s feature in Topic on Andrew Tsui and ikejime Ferris Jabr reviews the evidence that fish feel pain in Hakai Magazine Ikejime demonstrated by a chef at Go, a Japanese sushi restaurant in Beverly Hills More of Vox’s effective altruism coverage ––– Discover more podcasts from Vox here. 
Nov 14, 2018
How to rethink America's borders
The most reliable, best-documented way to lift someone in a poor country out of poverty? Let them come to the US (or another rich country). That’s the argument of Fabio Rojas, a self-described advocate of open borders. That idea is often used as a punching bag by immigration opponents, but Rojas argues it could dramatically reduce poverty without costing Americans jobs. ––– Further reading: Fabio Rojas’s “simplified argument” for open borders Rojas’s three-part series on how to achieve open borders Michael Clemens explains the debate over the Mariel boatlift from Cuba, which has become super-important in immigration economics The National Immigration Forum summarizes the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2017, for which Leon Fresco is lobbying More of Vox’s effective altruism coverage ––– Discover more podcasts from Vox here. 
Nov 07, 2018
How to cool the planet with a fake volcano
When volcanoes erupt, they spray particles into the atmosphere that cool the planet for a bit. As we get closer and closer to truly catastrophic global warming, more and more scientists are wondering whether a similar approach, called solar geoengineering, could be necessary. If it works, solar geoengineering could buy us some time to cut emissions and get our act together. If it doesn’t, the climate could be irreparably disrupted. No pressure. ––– Further reading: Brad Plumer explains the basics of geoengineering at Vox Umair Irfan walks through a new study on the limits of geoengineering The Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment, led by Harvard professor Frank Keutsch, seeks to learn more about the likely effects of solar geoengineering without actually doing it Gernot Wagner and his colleague David Keith make the cautious case for taking solar geoengineering seriously in the Wall Street Journal More of Vox’s effective altruism coverage ––– Discover more podcasts from Vox here. 
Oct 31, 2018
How our drinking water could help prevent suicide
Lithium is a potent drug used to treat bipolar disorder, but it’s also the third element in the periodic table, and you can find tiny amounts in most drinking water. Scientists have discovered something remarkable: In areas where the tap water has more lithium, fewer people seem to die by suicide. That raises a big question: Should we put small amounts of lithium in the drinking water? Can we afford not to? ––– Further reading: Anna Fels’s op-ed “Should We All Take a Bit of Lithium?” in the New York Times Nassir Ghaemi and colleagues review the evidence on trace lithium and suicide, homicide, crime, and dementia A recent study casting doubt on the trace lithium/suicide prevention link Jesse Hicks explains the fluoride controversy for the Science History Institute Jesse Hicks explains trace lithium, for Vice More of Vox’s effective altruism coverage ––– Discover more podcasts from Vox here. 
Oct 24, 2018
How to make prisons more humane
Karianne Jackson was working for the North Dakota prison system in 2015 when a trip to Norway changed her life. There, she saw a prison with no bars and no uniformed guards. Instead, prisoners lived in small cottages with common areas, private bedrooms, even kitchens with real cups, real dishes, and real knives. And she started thinking: What if I could make the US prison system a bit more like that? ––– Further reading: Jessica Benko in the New York Times on the "radical humaneness" of Norway's Halden Prison Dashka Slater in Mother Jones on Karianne Jackson's "Norway experiment" in North Dakota Vox’s German Lopez explains mass incarceration in the United States More of Vox’s effective altruism coverage ––– Discover more podcasts from Vox here. 
Oct 17, 2018
How to save a stranger's life
In 2016, Dylan Matthews donated his kidney to a complete stranger. He didn’t think he was doing anything really extreme or remarkable. He was just trying to do the most good he could. Dylan was taking part in a movement called effective altruism, a community that tries to maximize the good you do. In our first episode, we’ll explore the idea of effective altruism, why making our charities more effective matters, and what giving a bodily organ looks like in practice. ––– Further reading: More on Dylan’s kidney donation Peter Singer’s case against the Make a Wish Foundation More of Vox’s effective altruism coverage ––– Discover more podcasts from Vox here. 
Oct 15, 2018
Introducing Future Perfect
Explore provocative ideas with the potential to radically improve the world. Vox’s Dylan Matthews tackles big questions about the most effective ways to save lives, fight global warming, and end world poverty. Dylan looks at ways that bills in Congress, actions in your everyday life, and everything in between can help bring about a more perfect future. 
Oct 12, 2018