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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 John Burke

John Burke

James Burke has been called “one of the most intriguing minds in the Western world” by the 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 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 40 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 best-selling author, James’s 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, Circles, and American Connections. He has also written a series of introductions for the book Inventing Modern America and was a contributing author to Talking Back to the Machine and Leading for Innovation. 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. James also wrote and hosted a best-selling CD-ROM, Connections: A Mind Game and provided consult and scripting for Disney Epcot. James 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. He’s currently a contributor to Time magazine. His most recent television work is a PBS retrospective of his work, ReConnections. 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’s due to be online in 2020. His next book, The Culture of Scarcity, will also be published in 2020.