September 15, 2019

Anthill 33: an announcement – and a trip back to the future

Anthill 33: an announcement – and a trip back to the future

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You may have noticed that we’ve had a little break from our usual monthly Anthill podcast schedule. That’s because we’ve been hard at work creating a new series all about India and what you need to know to understand what’s at stake in India’s upcoming national elections. From now on, The Anthill won’t be monthly – instead we’ll be delving deep into stories and themes in dedicated short series featuring academic research and thinking.

Our first series, India Tomorrow, will take an in-depth look at the world’s largest democracy in which 900m voters go to the polls in April and May in an enormous democratic exercise that will take over a month to complete. India is the world’s fastest growing economy. It has a strongman, populist leader in Narendra Modi who is up for re-election. Fake news stories are fuelling violence against the country’s minorities. And a simmering conflict with Pakistan over Kashmir recently escalated into a dangerous confrontation.

We’ll be speaking to academic experts who research India to find out about all these issues and more. If you’ve got any tips or questions you want answered, relating to India and the upcoming elections, do send us an email at podcast@theconversation.com.

Otherwise, watch this space and subscribe to The Anthill via your podcast catcher of choice if you haven’t already. The first episode will be launched on April 9. To get in touch with the podcast team, drop us a line via podcast@theconversation.com or find us on Twitter @anthillpod. You can also sign up to a special Anthill newsletter to receive an email each time we publish a new episode.

Visions of the future

In the meantime, we’ve got an old favourite episode for you. It’s all about visions of the future.

Predicting what the world will be like in years to come is something that has occupied thinkers throughout the ages. They’ve had varying degrees of success. Back in the 1930s, for example, John Maynard Keynes predicted technology would reduce the average working week to 15 hours. We asked Martin Parker, professor of organisation at the University of Bristol, why this hasn’t happened and if it ever could. Meanwhile, Ursula Huws, professor of labour and globalisation at the University of Hertfordshire, identifies four areas where jobs will boom – in spite of all the robots.

We also delved into the history of how our ancestors imagined the future. Nick Dunn, professor of urban design at Lancaster University, who runs its Imagination design research lab, reveals his favourite dystopian and utopian visions for what future cities could look like. And Amy Chambers, science communication and screen studies researcher at Manchester Metropolitan University, explains how both utopias and dystopias in science fiction have been used to help imagine a better future. Today, she says, science fiction on the small screen is taking the idea of AI and running with it, creating a range of near futures that we can all be scared of.

We also talked to a present-day futurist. Anders Sandberg, research fellow at the Future of Humanity Institute at the University of Oxford, explains what it’s like predicting the future as a day job. Thankfully, it’s not all doom and gloom.


The Anthill theme music is by Alex Grey for Melody Loops. Music in the utopia segment was by I believe in you, by Lee Rosevere and sound effects by dobroide. Sound effects in future studies segment from mknausscat, cydon and CGEffex.

A big thanks to City University London’s Department of Journalism for letting us use their studios.

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