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Brave New Planet

by Pushkin Industries

Utopia or dystopia? It’s up to us.In the 21st century, powerful technologies have been appearing at a breathtaking pace—related to the internet, artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, and more. They have amazing potential upsides, but we can’t ignore the serious risks that come with them.Brave New Planet is a podcast that delves deep into the most exciting and challenging scientific frontiers, helping us understand them and grapple with their implications. Dr. Eric Lander, president and founding director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, is a geneticist, molecular biologist, and mathematician who was a leader of the Human Genome Project and for eight years served as a science advisor to the White House for President Obama. He’s also the host of Brave New Planet, and he’s talked to leading researchers, journalists, doctors, policy makers, activists, and legal experts to illuminate how this generation’s choices will shape the future as never before.Brave New Planet is a partnership between the Broad Institute, Pushkin Industries, and The Boston Globe's Opinion team.

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Introducing: playing god?

29m · Published 10 Oct 09:00

While Andrea Rubin lay unconscious and severely burned after a car fire, her father told doctors to do everything they could to keep her alive. She would need many surgeries. Her quality of life wouldn’t be the same. Her friends were outraged. They told doctors that Andrea would not want to live that way. While Andrea was being kept alive on a ventilator, her loved ones fought about what would be best for her. In this episode, we explore how medical decisions are made for patients who are incapable of deciding for themselves. Enjoy this episode from playing god?

Show notes:
In addition to Andrea Rubin, this episode features interviews with:
Jeffrey Kahn, Andreas C. Dracopolous Director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics

Monica Gerrek, Co-director of the Center for Biomedical Ethics at MetroHealth System (where Andrea was treated)

You can learn more about Andrea’s case here.

A similar case to Andrea’s happened in the 1970s. A man named Dax Cowart repeatedly asked doctors to let him die after suffering severe burns. But the doctors continued to treat him against his wishes. Here’s an interviewwith Mr. Cowart ten years after his accident, where he talks about his experience with the Washington Post. Dr. Gerrek wrote a paper comparing the two cases, and showing how medical decision making for severe burn patients has evolved over the past 50 years.

For further reading about medical decision making and patient autonomy, visit the Berman Institute’s episode guide.

The Greenwall Foundation. Making bioethics integral to decisions in healthcare, policy and research. Learn more at

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Hugging Face and watsonx: Why Open Source Is the Future of AI in Business

30m · Published 03 Oct 10:30

Open-source innovation is the future of AI. In this episode of Smart Talks with IBM, Malcolm Gladwell and Tim Harford discuss the open-source AI community with Jeff Boudier, head of product and growth at Hugging Face. They chat about the history and future of open-source AI, its critical importance to AI progress, the IBM watsonx partnership with Hugging Face, and how businesses can leverage open-source AI for their specific needs.

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RSV: The Quest for a New Vaccine

23m · Published 21 Sep 04:05

What is ‘structure-based’ vaccine design? Before scientists used these techniques to design vaccines against Covid, they were testing them in the lab to combat RSV. Keren Landman joins the show to talk about how this respiratory virus endangers the lives of babies and the elderly. Then, we hear about an early RSV vaccine trial that cast a shadow over modern research, and how scientists, including our guests Jason McLellan and Barney Graham, later figured out how to create and stabilize a viral antigen’s spike protein to fight RSV.

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Smallpox: Gone but Not Forgotten from Incubation

27m · Published 07 Sep 17:30

What can we learn from the centuries-long quest to eradicate smallpox, once the scourge of humanity? And how did it set the stage for all vaccines to come? First we meet Edward Jenner, a doctor in 18th century Britain who learned about the folk practice of “variolation” and found a safer way to inoculate people against smallpox. Then, Donald Hopkins of the Carter Center takes us back to the 1960s in Sierra Leone, where he discovered that successfully eradicating smallpox could be a feasible goal worldwide. Enjoy this episode from Incubation, another Pushkin podcast.

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Introducing Death of an Author, A Groundbreaking AI Mystery

10m · Published 09 May 04:00

What happens when artificial intelligence comes for the novelists? Journalist Stephen Marche investigates in Death of an Author,a gripping speculative mystery that was written 95%by AI, aka “Aidan Marchine,” and 5% by Marche, who skillfully crafted the story outline and machine prompts.You can get Death of an Author now at wherever you get your audiobooks and eBooks.

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From Higher Animals: A New Audiobook by New Yorker writer Michael Specter

12m · Published 06 Apr 04:00

This excerpt from Pushkin's new audiobook, Higher Animals: Vaccines, Synthetic Biology, and the Future of Life, features the introduction to Michael Specter's exciting exploration into how MRNA vaccines have transformed the scientific landscape and helped spark a biotechnology revolution. Go buy yourself a copy at, Audible, Apple Books, or anywhere audiobooks are sold.

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From The January 6 Tapes with celebrated legal analyst Preet Bharara

6m · Published 15 Nov 08:00

This excerpt from Pushkin's new audiobook, The January 6 Tapes, features lawyer and legal analyst Preet Bharara's thoughtful breakdown of the January 6 Select Committee Hearings. The only compilation of the actual hearings, this audiobook is filled with the riveting testimonies that will define history. Go buy yourself a copy at, Audible, Apple Books, Spotify or anywhere audiobooks are sold.

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Brave New Planet Presents Miracle And Wonder: Conversations With Paul Simon

5m · Published 16 Nov 10:00

Presenting: An Excerpt fromMiracle And Wonder: Conversations With Paul Simonby Malcolm Gladwell and Bruce Headlam. Download the audiobook today at and receive an exclusive listener's guide pdf featuring additional commentary from Bruce, the producers and editors of Miracle and Wonder.

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Pushkin Honors Juneteenth

27m · Published 17 Jun 09:00

At Pushkin, we think ofJuneteenthas an opportunity to reflect on the past and think about the future: How do we build a more just and equitable society? We strive to make podcasts that help answer that question, and in honor ofJuneteenth, we’re highlighting two of them. In this episode, you'll hear previews of our new shows Be Antiracist and A Slight Change of Plans. We hope these episodes inspire thinking and conversation around issues of race in your own lives.

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What Will It Take?

28m · Published 23 Nov 10:00

How can we come together to tackle big challenges in science and society? Dr. Eric Lander and Niala Boodhoo, veteran journalist and Axios Today host, talk about the importance of trust, humility, and skepticism in the worlds of science and media. Together, they ask how we can find the common ground we’ll need to make progress.

For links to materials referenced in the episode, suggestions for further learning, and guest bios, visit

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Brave New Planet has 17 episodes in total of non- explicit content. Total playtime is 9:18:53. The language of the podcast is English. This podcast has been added on October 22nd 2023. It might contain more episodes than the ones shown here. It was last updated on February 23rd, 2024 05:45.

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