Asimov’s laws as a storytelling device and what you get when you alter the formula. “Humans are the true robots.”
The difference between “automata” and “robots.” Ancient Greek, Arab, and medieval church automata. Automata and robots making humans realize we need to explain what makes us special. Realizing that, on the whole, we probably aren’t really. Cartesian dualism as a stop-gap measure. Moral progress. Appreciating that we stopped seeing other animals as automatons and vivisecting them.
NASA getting into the automata game for difficult environments. The Automaton Rover for Extreme Environments. Mixing electronic and (mostly) mechanical components for robustness against horrible, deadly, no good, very bad atmospheres. Sending data back home from limited electronic or even completely mechanical systems.
Various phenomena caused by disturbances in the sun. The Carrington Event. Imagining the losses in the trillions from a Carrington-strength event in the modern day. Civilizational collapse with worldwide disturbance/destruction of telecommunications infrastructure.
Realizing that several billion humans on Earth is actually like a real real lot of people. Very many. So many that even a 97% reduction leaves millions. Oy.
Defining deserts by rainfall. Defining desertification by a land’s inability to hold water.
Automata by In Our Time: BBC
Ghost in the Machine by Radio Lab: WNYC
Domestication. Plants and animals. Bending chosen qualities to better human use.
Watermelon as of The Renaissance. Yay selective breeding! We win!
Implicit and explicit communication channels. Dog human body language-reading. Data connections and cloudy signal processing. Adaptation of dog body-design to robots. The small design effort required to get people to treat a robot animal like an animal.
The difference between industrial and military flamethrowers. An unpleasant, sticky material: napalm and napalm-like products!
Love! For James Cameron and Aliens. And the great utilitarian design of the spaceship interiors. Great world-building.
Cryosleep? Ice sublimation and mummified Sigourney Weaver. Hibernation. How to shove pine cones up your butt, chug some Nyquil, and turn into a bear. Cryogenic specimen preservations: sperm! DIY fecal plugs for hibernation.
Private space industry
The rise of private space industry. Going dystopian.
Planet? Moon? The delineation between planets and moons and looking forward to the future when we get confused again. Demoting Pluto to planetoid. Terraforming Mars. Sad news on Martian CO2 supplies for atmosphere creation. Crater settlements and whether or not you need a roof. Atmospheric density limits for human comfort and thriving.
What: Old Bruce Willis wears a young Bruce Willis suit; has to save the day. Directed by: Jonathan Mostow Starring: Bruce Willis, Rosamund Pike, James Cromwell, Ving Rhames, Jack Noseworthy, Radha Mitchell