The Future of Everything

8232Back in 2010, while Editor at California Lawyer magazine, Marty Lasden created Legally Speaking — a series that brought us in-depth conversations with some of the most interesting lawyers in the world. Among them: Innocence Project founder Barry Scheck, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, and US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Now Lasden is launching a new series for UCTV called Up Next: Perspectives on the Future of Everything. Over the coming months both he and his co-producer, lawyer/author Eric Berkowitz, will be considering “everything” from genetic engineering to Judaism to the future of work.

“The future is a really weird, and sometimes very scary place,” Lasden acknowledges. “And for so many of the topics that we’ll be discussing, the more you read, the more difficult it often is to distinguish the prophets from the crackpots.”

Consider artificial intelligence (AI), which is the subject of this month’s Up Next interview with Jeffrey Hawkins. Back in the 1990s, at a time when carrying a computer around in your pocket seemed like an entirely wacky idea, Hawkins invented the Palm Pilot, which in no small way ushered in a whole new era of mobile computing. These days, though, Hawkins is on a far more ambitious and, no doubt, audacious mission. His goal: to build a machine that can think and reason on its own by mimicking the working principles of the human brain. Of course, as wild ideas go, that one may not sound nearly as weird as it did say five years ago when a computer named Watson had yet to beat the humans on a game show called Jeopardy. But the speculation about AI hardly ends there. For example, at Google, famed futurist Ray Kurzweil believes that within a few decades the technology will be good enough to allow us to download our own minds into a machine, and by so doing achieve a kind of immortality.

Crazy talk? Perhaps. But, then again, maybe not. Tune in to Up Next to find out.