On the 16th of January, 2018, the School of Science team spent a few hours with Luke Kingma – the Head of Creative at Futurism. Luke has immense experience in the digital marketing industry, and is now a well-known journalist. He is also an aspiring cartoonist and an elaborate traveler. Over a cup of coffee, he talked about education, news, and about varied aspects of technology.
SOS: How do you think education should be?
LK: I don’t think there’s just one solution for educating the world’s entire population. That is to say, children shouldn’t be forced to adopt a single system. Education needs to be more personalized, and it needs to be tailored to suit a dynamic range of learning styles. Education also needs to be future-proof, and future-focused. As technology transforms the world at lightspeed, the curriculum we employ must transform with it.
SOS: How do you think fake news can be defeated?
LK: First and foremost, we need to stop relying so heavily on centralized content platforms, because they tend rank news based on people’s emotions, not facts. I think we also need to invest in trustworthy news companies and good journalists. We kicked our Napster habit and started paying for music again. We can do the same for news. To do that, we need to convince the public that well-researched journalism is expensive. The New York Times’ subscriber base has doubled over the past 18 months, which is a positive sign. By the same token, smaller and more dedicated media companies like Futurism and School of Science need to be supported the way bigger players are supported. Whether that’s accomplished through a Netflix-style model or some next generation micropayments platform, it’s pivotal that we figure it out.
SOS: Should we invest in current day-to-day problems like poverty or should we aim for the future?
LK: There’s nothing more motivating than watching humanity push forward and cross new frontiers! The moon landing was an event that brought the whole world together in an incredibly divisive time. So, I think modern moonshots like colonizing Mars need to be a major focus of governments and the private sector. At the same time, a future without equality isn’t worth funding. We need to invest in making sure everyone has the same opportunity to build the future we want. Milestones in science and technology shouldn’t be restricted to the privileged few. We need to ensure everyone has the same access to quality education, and the same opportunity to pursue the careers they want. If there’s a group of people that don’t have a realistic opportunity to become an astronaut, then there’s a problem, and we need to fix it.
”It’s very motivating to watch humanity pushing forward!”
SOS: How big an impact will VR have in this world?
LK: I’m one of those futurists who is skeptical about virtual reality. I think it’s going to be useful in contexts like on-the-job-training, education, psychological care, and medicine. VR could allow people to visit parts of the world and experience cultures vastly different from their own, and I think that will have a hugely positive influence on society. However, I’m far more excited about augmented and mixed reality, which will eventually replace the smartphone completely, and give us access to impossibly large amounts of information where and when we need it. Now if only we could figure out the whole ‘field of view’ thing…
SOS: What is your drive at Futurism and what do you think you can achieve through Futurism for science?
LK: To make progress, we need to get people excited about science and technology. They need to be shown what is possible, and they need to understand what we need to do today to realize the vision of tomorrow. If we can accomplish that, audiences will demand innovation. So, our jobs as content creators and journalists are incredibly important. I’m grateful to play a small role in this pursuit at Futurism.
“People should be told what mankind is capable of and how fast technology is progressing.”
SOS: How much of an impact will Artificial Intelligence have in the future?
LK: I think it is inevitable that artificial intelligence will eventually make most of the larger decisions that impact and govern society. It’s fashionable to fear monger, but I tend to have a very optimistic view of AI’s role in the future. Artificial intelligence would make better doctors, drivers, and policemen than humans. They can collect and analyze impossible amounts of data in ways that we never could. I’d like to think we’re going to build systems we can trust, systems that are so powerful that we may even elect them to govern us. As humans, our emotions are our best and worst trait. AI has the potential to look at the world objectively, which could set the technology up to solve a lot of the messes we’ve gotten ourselves into.
SOS: Could you comment on vertical farming?
LK: I was fortunate enough to visit Aerofarms, which is the world’s largest vertical farm, located in Newark, New Jersey. They’re taking reclaimed spaces and converting them into incredibly efficient farms that can produce millions of pounds of fresh, clean greens. In many parts of the world, and in many parts of the United States, fresh produce is not available within a reasonable distance of major population centers. Vertical farming enables fresh, nutritious food to be hand-delivered to local communities. Technology like aeroponics also requires far less water, soil, and sunlight than conventional farming. So, it’s also the most environmentally friendly way to feed billions around the world.
SOS: How excited are you about Blockchain?
LK: There’s an insane amount of hype surrounding blockchain right now, and it’s mostly from an investment perspective. There’s never been a better opportunity for the average person to make (and potentially lose) hoards of cash with a relatively small investment. Of course, blockchain is so much more than a money-making opportunity, and I look forward to the day when its tangible impact as a technology is a bigger story than the next dip or surge. For blockchain, the future is very bright, I think.
SOS: What are your favorite Sci-Fi movies and TV shows?
LK: Even though it tends to offer a very negative look at the future, I love Black Mirror. If you look at the mission of the show, it’s really not so different from Futurism or School of Science. It’s trying to give audiences a realistic window into the future that will get us talking about it today. Fear is a powerful motivator, but so is hope. I also love films like The Martian that have worked so tirelessly to portray the scientific events of tomorrow accurately. I would like to see more science fiction like this, which are doing a major service to science.
SOS: To wrap it up, which superhero would you want to be?
LK: (chuckles) That’s a really good question. I would probably be like Iron Man! He possesses the knowledge and creativity to build a better future. It’s not magic, and it’s not a superpower. He’s using real-world technology to improve humanity’s prospects for prosperity.
Futurism is a leading media company that provides a curated feed of daily scientific breakthroughs and technological advancements. Having around 20 million readers, Futurism works towards empowering its readers with knowledge that will shape the future. It is followed by a few eminent people including Elon Musk and Alan Stern (NASA’s New Horizons mission leader).