Press release from National Geographic, April 27, 2017:
From the moment our ancestors smashed two rocks together to forge the first tool, technology and imagination have propelled humanity forward. But now, technology has the power to shape a future beyond our imagination. What was once conceived by science fiction as entertainment is now the blueprint great scientists use to project the future of our world.
Premiering Monday, May 15, at 9/8c, National Geographic paints a visual story of the distant future in the six-part documentary-drama series YEAR MILLION. Narrated by Laurence Fishburne (“The Matrix,” “Blackish”) and produced by RadicalMedia (MARS, FROM THE ASHES), YEAR MILLION unites the brightest minds in science, technology and science fiction, including Ray Kurzweil, Michio Kaku, Peter Diamandis and Brian Greene. Together, these experts, who spend their lives studying and imagining our future, take us inside a very real future that feels like the stuff of science fiction – a future where humankind has merged with machine and forged an existence where we’re living beyond our bodies, beyond our planet and beyond our solar system.
YEAR MILLION weaves a thrilling – sometimes frightening – depiction of how we’ve used innovative science to create technology that will soon surpass our intelligence – and perhaps exist beyond our control. For instance, the cell phone, a device most of us cannot live without, much less leave at home, has become exponentially more intelligent just in the last decade.
YEAR MILLION’s documentary sequences are comingled with illustrative, dramatic storytelling to depict a version of humanity’s fate through the lens of a typical, futuristic American family – which includes an android daughter whose existence depends upon interactions with future scientific and technological advancements. These dramatic sequences shift between a robust roster of on-camera commentary and serve as touchstones of the world to come.
YEAR MILLION is a stark, fact-based response to the future anticipated within today’s popular sci-fi films and TV series including “Star Wars,” “The Matrix,” “Black Mirror,” “Westworld,” “Humans,” “Ex Machina” and “Her.” In addition to consulting contemporary scientific/tech experts on camera, the series features a mix of lay interviews with filmmakers, artists, writers and comedians who provide their perspectives on the future of humanity; noted graphic novelist Brian Michael Bendis, Nerdist co-host Matt Mira and musician/science enthusiast David Byrne join the mix.
“YEAR MILLION propels us into an odyssey of the unfathomable choices humans will face while questioning the kind of lives we’ll live and the people we’ll become,” says Tim Pastore, President, Original Programming and Production. “The series imagines an era when mortality becomes a thing of the past; man merges with machine; intelligence is limitless; and the human species becomes interplanetary.”
The series predicts how every aspect of technology may affect our lives for better or worse and ponders the following questions as outlined in the episode descriptions.
Episode 1 – Homo Sapien 2.0: Premieres Monday, May 15, 9/8c
Advances in neuroscience and engineering are bringing us closer toward a reality first described in great science fiction, one in which artificial intelligence will become indistinguishable from – or perhaps even surpass – human intelligence. This could lead to a future in which AI beings become our essential collaborators or a threat to human value and life. What are the major milestones that are leading us towards this singularity, and how will that affect the evolution of the human species?
Episode 2 – Never Say Die: Premieres Monday, May 22, 9/8c
Recent breakthroughs in genetics have given us a better understanding of the biology of humans, opening up new ways that could help us all live healthier for longer. In the future, will we move beyond treating individual diseases and, instead, treat the aging process itself? How would a dramatically protracted life change not only the fabric of society, but what it means to be a human being?
Episode 3 – Dude, Where’s My Body?: Premieres Monday, May 29, 9/8c
Advances in graphics and computing power have given rise to a renaissance in virtual technologies from world-building platforms like Second Life to manufacturers of VR headsets like Oculus Rift. We’re seeing more and more of human activity transfer to virtual spaces, offering people profound experiences via online personas and even transforming the way the real-world functions. Will we reach a tipping point where reality becomes a pale shadow of the rich, imaginative, virtual worlds we’ve created for ourselves? What will that mean for our perception of humanity? What do we risk losing?
Episode 4 – Mind Meld: Premieres Monday, June 5, 9/8c
Within a single generation, the Internet has transformed virtually every aspect of modern culture from the way we learn and work to the ways in which we communicate and express ourselves. How has this constant connectivity affected our views on privacy? How will they continue to change as new technologies like neural prosthetics help us create seamless, instantaneous connections to the cloud? Eventually, will we evolve to the point of telepathy? How will this affect our relationships to each other? Will this give us new tools or insight into communication with other civilizations that might exist beyond Earth?
Episode 5 – Energy Beyond Earth: Premieres Monday, June 12, 9/8c
Overconsumption of energy and resources has lead us to a breaking point where we will either have to engineer our way around our problems, or look to other planets to inhabit. If we go off planet, we will have to make it habitable for humans through processes like terraforming, which may lead to unintended consequences for that ecosystem. Is this human-centric view of the universe the right approach? And is it possible there are alien civilizations that have reached this similar inflection point?
Episode 6 – Beyond the Cosmos: Premieres Monday, June 19, 9/8c
Humans have always had a drive to explore the unknown. This indomitable spirit has led us to new shores, new depths and, in the last century, to new planets. As the number of mysteries remaining on home planet decreases, how will we have to adapt ourselves biologically in order to explore farther distances in space? Will we discover forms of life reminiscent of Earth or new forms of life entirely? What astrophysical phenomena may we experience, and how closely will it align to how we’ve imagined it in science fiction?
YEAR MILLION is produced by RadicalMedia for National Geographic. For RadicalMedia, Justin Wilkes, Jon Kamen and Dave O’Connor are executive producers. Tommy Turtle, Wendy Greene and Laurence Fishburne also serve as executive producers, and Mark Elijah Rosenberg is the co-executive producer and director. For National Geographic, Matt Renner is vice president, production; Tim Pastore is president, original programming and production; and Carolyn Bernstein is executive vice president and head of global scripted development & production.