Shaping the Future

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(World Image/Big Stock)

(World Image/Big Stock)

When we think of “the future,” it sounds like something abstract and faraway — we imagine new inventions, cutting-edge innovations, life on other planets. But the future can also be frightening. This past year has been a stark reminder of how quickly life can change, and how little we control. So which is it — a world that we shape, or one we’re propelled towards?

On today’s episode, we explore the future — our worries and anxieties about it, our relationship with our future selves, and our ability to shape the future we want. We hear stories about the predictions of futurists, the efforts of science to save a near-extinct animal, and how we make decisions for our future selves.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • The northern white rhino is one animal that may not have a future — with only two females left alive, the species is on the edge of extinction. We talk with Jan Stejskal, director of international projects at Dvůr Králové Zoo in the Czech Republic, about scientists’ efforts to save the northern white rhino using in vitro fertilization.
  • We chat with psychologist Hal Hershfield, a professor of marketing and behavioral decision-making at UCLA. He explains how we can make better decisions for our future selves.
  • If you could talk to your future self, what would you ask them? What would you say? We hear the story of someone who did — Nicholas Yañez, who wrote a letter to his future self at a time when his life seemed to be on the verge of falling apart. That’s because Nicholas had a secret that put everything — his marriage, his friendships, even his job — at risk. This story is based on an episode of the podcast “Hope This Finds Me Well” from editaudio which features interviews with letter writers from the website FutureMe.

Segments from this episode

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