Sign in

The undercurrents of the future. A publication from Medium about technology and people.

Future Human

In OneZero. More on Medium.


How compassion can strengthen our emotional responses, our minds — and our tech

Illustration: Maria Medem

In a recent article for Medium, Adam Gazzaley, MD, PhD, a brain expert at the University of California, San Francisco, brilliantly outlined the current state of the human condition: We’re in a cognition crisis, he wrote, one wrought in part by the proliferation of…


Or will we? A dispatch from the outer limits of human athletic performance

Wayde van Niekerk. Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty

Two years ago, at the Summer Olympics in Rio, Wayde van Niekerk ran the 400 meters in 43.03 seconds. Before the South African sprinter could catch his breath, the announcers had already cast his record-setting run as an unbelievable feat of human performance. “I can’t believe it!” howled one. “He has obliterated Michael Johnson’s world record!” Over at NBC, a second announcer goaded, “Guess what, Michael Johnson? The world record has been destroyed!” Later that day, an equally enthusiastic release from the Olympic committee reupped the flowery verbiage with the headline, “Van Nierkerk Smashes World Record.”

But here’s the thing…


At a time when beloved performers are imploding by the score, her cheerful emptiness is a virtue

Illustrations: Nicole Ginelli

1. The singer, who is unreal, takes a break after the third song to greet her fans, just like a singer at a show. “Hello, New York!” she shouts, with a slightly raised timbre, a voice modulated to convey excitement. “Are you having a good time?” The capacity crowd howls its answer, a massive and adoring yes. “I can’t hear you,” she teases, or at least it almost sounds like she’s teasing. The crowd howls louder, waving their LED glow sticks over their heads in a frenzy. From the back, a man’s voice shouts, “We love you, Miku!” All of…


And other thought experiments from three imaginative artists

Fanny Luor

Evolution may not change human bodies very much in the next century, but you never know what new technology we’ll create that will change the way we look, move, and interact with each other. As part of our monthly magazine, Future Human, we allowed several illustrators each week to run wild with their vision of what humanity will be like far into the future. Find previous installments of the project here, here, and here.

Along with their illustrations, each artist wrote about their imagined future. …


How seeing CO2 made me write my congressman

Photo: AJ Colores on Unsplash

As I look down from space on our spinning blue and green planet, I understand why astronauts so often describe the experience of “Earth-gazing” as life-changing. I’m seeing our tiny planet highlighted against the infinite black expanse of the universe as I have never seen it before. It really does evoke a visceral sense of vastness and wonder.

It would be intimidating were I not able to anchor myself with familiar landmarks. That dry patch over there is the Sahara Desert. There’s the North Pole. And that’s North America! Below is the verdant Brazilian rainforest. Here comes Australia, with its…


It would take an unreasonable amount of plants to balance rising CO2 levels being found at home, school, and work

Photo by amirhossein abdollahi on Unsplash

What’s the most important number in the world? Bill McKibben thinks it’s 350. The environmental activist co-founded, a climate advocacy group, as a way to popularize the finding of a 2008 paper: CO2 in the atmosphere will need to be reduced to at most 350 parts per million “if humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed…” We were at around 280 ppm before we began to burn coal, oil, and gas en masse. This April, we reached 410 ppm.

Yet it is a little appreciated fact that many of us at home, school…


We may not be able to sweat our way through the heat

Photo: Hans Reniers on Unsplash

In 1980, a nuclear power plant in Forsmark, Sweden, began pumping cooling effluent from its reactors into “Biotest Lake,” a manmade, 84-hectare enclosed body of water jutting out from the Baltic Sea. Separated from its aquatic environs and featuring a habitat that was consistently some six to 10 degrees Celsius warmer than the surrounding Baltic, the lake provided, as one group of researchers put it, “an unprecedented model to examine the long-term physiological responses of temperate fishes facing a severe climate-warming scenario under ecologically realistic conditions.”¹

Some native species quickly disappeared from Biotest Lake,² while others persisted. The European perch…


Some argue it’s the only way to save the species

Illustration by Johanna Walderdorff

August 1, 2018 … The age of the downloadable gun formally begins.” So says the website of Defense Distributed, a nonprofit that creates and publishes blueprints for 3-D printed weapons. Cody Wilson — the founder of Defense Distributed, a libertarian and one of the 15 most dangerous people in the world according to Wired magazine — put up plans for a printable gun in 2013. Called “the Liberator,” it was a single-shot pistol made mostly of plastic. Shortly after the blueprints were put online the State Department ordered them removed, citing a possible violation of firearm export rules. Wilson sued…


Eight new trends that are revolutionizing how we live

Image: piranka/Getty

Technology has always promised a better future … eventually. Somehow the real breakthroughs have always seemed to be just around the corner. But somehow, when we weren’t quite paying attention, the future actually arrived. Thanks to forward-thinking researchers calling on advances in genomics, artificial intelligence, food science, and drug hacking, a more resilient, enlightened, and cognitively-, physically-, and sexually-enhanced human already walks among us. (And her skin is amazing.) Here, eight exciting new health technologies — and where they’re heading next.

Anti-aging in a pill

What it is: Self-described by its MIT creators as “the world’s first cellular health product informed by genomics,” Basis…


Our shared photographs now create nostalgia in real time

Photo by Rachael Crowe on Unsplash

I remember, as a child, pulling my grandmother’s yellowed Polaroids from the dusty shoebox I’d found high up in her closet. That afternoon, we sat next to each other on the couch, pulling old photos from the box one by one.

Although she couldn’t recall exactly where and when each one was taken, every photo triggered a story. My grandmother brought the images to life. We laughed and we cried as she relived every picture, and I learned more about her than I’d ever known before. …


The undercurrents of the future. A publication from Medium about technology and people.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store