484: The Spark Guide to Civilization, Part One: Movement

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The first episode in our special Guide to Civilization series, will look at how tech from the wheel to just-in-time delivery architecture (and many things in between) have changed the way humans have been able to move, expand their horizons and shrink their world — along with the costs and benefits. We take a special look at the impact and role of the bicycle, which is consistently rated as the most significant invention in human history. And we end the episode with a peek into the future of movement, and what things may look like down the road, so to speak. + Technology has always abetted human movement; from the invention of wheels and aqueducts to drones and self-driving cars, the movement of people and goods has evolved in lockstep with the development of newer technologies. Transportation geographer Jean-Paul Rodrigue takes us through some of the most important inventions of transportation technology, and describes how they broadened human mobility. + The bicycle is one of the most important inventions in history, and in many parts of the world, is the most-used transportation technology. Peter Walker, who wrote How Cycling Can Save The World, talks about the bike's importance - and how it may not only get us off our dependence on fossil fuels, keep us healthier, and is a tool for social justice. + In the 19th and 20th centuries, popular science and popular fiction posited a world of the future where technology would be the panacea to all human concerns -- including transportation. Writers like Isaac Asimov, Ursula K. Le Guin and Philip K. Dick imagined futuristic worlds where humans would be able to ride fantastical machines that would propel them from place to place at astonishing speeds with stunning efficiency. But as 21st-century humans continue to reckon with the effects of climate change and ever-growing social inequality, the starships and teleporters and indestructible dirigibles that past generations envisioned now seem less and less likely. The Future Today Institute’s Leah Zaidi, and Shauna Brail, from the University of Toronto's Institute for Management and Innovation, talk about their visions of the future, as well as how we might get there, what’s holding us back, and what the ideal future of transportation might truly look like.

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