“Real Future” seeks to get up close with people and communities using new technologies to change the world. The outlet has examined everything from airborne drones to the economics of digital fame.
Episode 1: Revenge Porn/Drone Racer
"Revenge porn," nude photos and videos of people posted online non-consensually, often by their disgruntled exes, is one of the darkest and most damaging parts of the internet. And in Dayton, Ohio, a man named Scott Breitenstein has become one of the biggest revenge porn distributors in the world. He's been called an "internet terrorist," and we went to Dayton to confront him about his work — with a shocking result.
Episode 2: Vocaloids/The Transhumanist Candidate
Vocaloids: Hatsune Miku, who is currently the biggest pop star in Japan, isn't a human at all. She's a "vocaloid" — a synthetic performer created using special music-writing software and animated with a hologram avatar. Vocaloids are selling out stadiums in Japan, and U.S. music producers are starting to pay attention. We went to Anime Expo to profile Misha, a young American vocaloid fan who is hoping that Ruby, her homemade vocaloid creation, will be the next Taylor Swift.
Episode 3: Sex Bots/Hack Attack
Sex Bots: We've heard about robot lovers in sci-fi movies for years. But in a warehouse in San Marcos, California, one entrepreneur is trying to make romantic robot partners a reality. Matt McMullen is the CEO of Real Doll, a company that specializes in ultra-realistic high-end sex dolls. He's hoping to apply cutting-edge AI research to his creations, and turn lifeless sex dolls into talking, emoting robot lovers, using some of the most advanced technology available. We went to Matt's warehouse to figure out if robot lovers are a pipe dream, or actually on the horizon.
Episode 4: Doctor VR/Predictive Policing.
Doctor VR: Virtual reality has been over-hyped for decades, but with the release of Facebook's Oculus Rift, Google's Cardboard, and Samsung's Gear VR, it seems to be on the cusp of arriving for real. Most VR fans are excited to play games and watch movies on their headsets, but a small group of healthcare providers are already using VR for more serious medical issues. We meet a psychologist who is using VR to cure his patients' phobias, and a UCLA brain surgeon who is prepping for surgery by examining 3-D models of his patients' brains in VR.
Episode 6: Cryonics/Tulpas
Cryonics: Since the 1950s, futurists have been obsessed with cryonics, the practice of freezing dead people in liquid nitrogen in order to restore them to life later. But thanks to new developments in life-extension technology, cryonics isn't as far-fetched an idea as it used to be — and young Silicon Valley types are getting interested. We follow one young tech worker who is considering cryonics for himself, and trying to assess the future of this strange futurist subculture.
Episode 7: Camgirl Coach/Broken City
"Camming" (appearing nude on live webcams for money) is a booming business, earning $1 billion a year and replacing traditional porn as the internet's adult entertainment of choice. Women all over the world are using camming as a safer, less exploitative alternative to the porn industry. And Nikki Night, a Canadian cam star, has carved out a niche as the first "camgirl coach," helping women who are new to camming learn the tricks of the trade. We meet Nikki and sit in on a class she's teaching to aspiring cam models.
Episode 8: Grinders/The YouTube Whisperer
In the mountains above the Mojave Desert, far from the nearest hospital or medical lab, a group of amateur bio-hackers is doing extreme, cutting-edge medical experiments on themselves, in an attempt to give themselves "superpowers" like night vision and electromagnetic sensitivity. They call themselves "grinders." Our host goes under the knife, and gets a magnet implant from the grinders, to see if they're pushing the limits of biomedical technology, or if they just like blood.