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The Future Isn't What it Used to Be

Mission City
Average rating: ****.
(4.88, 43 ratings)

Keynote by James Burke, science and technology historian, futurist, and author.

Photo of James Burke

James Burke

James Burke has been called “One of the most intriguing minds in the Western world” (Washington Post). His audience is global. His influence in the field of the public understanding of science and technology is acknowledged in citations by such authoritative sources as the Smithsonian and Microsoft CEO Bill Gates. His work is on the curriculum of universities and schools across the United States.

In 1965 James Burke began work with BBC-TV on Tomorrow’s World and went on to become the BBC’s chief reporter on the Apollo Moon missions. For over forty years he has produced, directed, written and presented award-winning television series on the BBC, PBS, Discovery Channel and The Learning Channel. These include historical series, such as Connections (aired in 1979, it achieved the highest-ever documentary audience); The Day the Universe Changed; Connections2 and Connections3; a one-man science series, The Burke Special; a mini-series on the brain, The Neuron Suite; a series on the greenhouse effect, After the Warming; and a special for the National Art Gallery on Renaissance painting, Masters of Illusion.

A bestselling author, his publications include: Tomorrow’s World, Tomorrow’s World II, Connections, The Day the Universe Changed, Chances, The Axemaker’s Gift (with Robert Ornstein), The Pinball Effect, The Knowledge Web, and Circles. He has also written a series of introductions for the book Inventing Modern America (MIT, 2002) and was a contributing author to Talking Back to the Machine (Copernicus, 1999) and Leading for Innovation (Drucker Foundation, 2002).

His book, Twin Tracks: The Unexpected Origins of the Modern World, focuses on the surprising connections among the seemingly unconnected people, events and discoveries that have shaped our world. Burke has also written and hosted a bestselling CD-ROM, Connections: A Mind Game and provided consult and scripting for Disney Epcot.

Burke is a frequent keynote speaker on the subject of technology and social change to audiences such as NASA, MIT, IBM, Microsoft, US Government Agencies and the World Affairs Council. He has also advised the National Academy of Engineering, The Lucas Educational Foundation and the SETI project.

He was a regular columnist for six years at Scientific American, and, most recently, contributed an essay on invention to the Britannica Online Encyclopedia. Burke is currently a contributor to TIME magazine. His most recent television work is a PBS retrospective of his work, ReConnections. Burke’s latest book, American Connections: The Founding Fathers Networked was published in 2007.

Educated at Oxford and holding honorary doctorates for his work in communicating science and technology, his latest project is an online interactive knowledge-mapping system (the ‘knowledge web’: to be used as a teaching aid, a management tool and a predictor. It is due to launch in 2015.

His next book, provisionally title The Culture Scarcity, will be published in 2014.