Jamais Cascio

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Jamais Cascio
Alma materUniversity of California
Period– 1988
Subjectsanthropology, history

Jamais Cascio is a San Francisco Bay Area–based author and futurist.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Cascio graduated from Mira Costa High School, Manhattan Beach, California in 1983. In 1988 he graduated from the University of California, majoring in anthropology and history.[2] He subsequently studied Political Science at Berkeley, graduating in 1993.[3]


Cascio was Technology Manager at Global Business Network[4] and Director of Impacts Analysis for the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology.

In 2009, Cascio was listed as one of Foreign Policy Magazine's top 100 Global Thinkers.[5] Michio Kaku has called him "a leading futurist with a long career of thoughtfully contemplating the outlines of tomorrow.".[6] He has written articles for various publications on a variety of subjects, including the future of human evolution,[7][8] education in the information age,[8] and emergent technologies.[9][10]

As of 2016 he was a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies,[11] a research Fellow at the Institute for the Future,[12][13] and a member of the Ensia Advisory Council.[14]

Cascio was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in recognition of his life's work by the University of Advancing Technology in May 2017.[15]


Transhuman Space[edit]

In the period 2003-4, Cascio published two volumes of background material for use in Steve Jackson Games' role playing game Transhuman Space, which is set in 2100.

Cascio's first volume, Broken Dreams, provides a political backdrop that concentrates on the less fortunate, and how they might respond to their circumstances.[16]

The second volume, Toxic Memes, concentrates on the battle for public opinion, and the issues that might arise from a hypothetical new science of memetics: the analysis, engineering, and manipulation of ideas.[17]


In 2003, Cascio co-founded the online website Worldchanging with Alex Steffen. He contributed articles from 2003 until his departure in 2006. His range of topics covered energy, climate change, global development, open source, biotechnology, and nanotechnologies.[18]

Cheeseburger carbon footprint[edit]

In 2006, when the concept of a carbon footprint was only just becoming an environmental talking point, Cascio decided to provide an illustrative example using a popular everyday item: the cheeseburger.[19] Taking into account all factors that went into the manufacture and delivery of one cheeseburger, Cascio calculated that the equivalent of 3.6–6.1 kg (7.9–13.4 lb) of CO2 was generated. Interpreting the result another way, Cascio estimated the annual emissions from cheeseburger production and distribution in the United States was comparable to that of all SUVs being driven on American roads at the time.[20]

The report raised a lot of interest, and featured in a segment of the National Geographic documentary Six Degrees Could Change the World.[21]


In 2008 Cascio collaborated with Jane McGonigal as scenario designer and administrator for Superstruct; a large scale forecasting game that invited players to use social media to describe how they would respond to five hypothetical but plausible threats to Humanity in the year 2019. The presentation followed the structure of the ten-year forecasting reports used by the Institute of The Future. 5000 players participated over a six-week period, starting in October 2008.[22]


Cascio has been a contributor to discussions about the ethics and practicality of geoengineering since 2005. In 2009, he self-published a collection of his essays under the title Hacking the Earth.[23] These essays stress that geoengineering strategies do not address the underlying causes of global warming, and that the consequences need to be weighed carefully. Nevertheless, Cascio advocates that geoengineering be considered seriously as a way of keeping increases in global temperature to a minimum.[24]

In 2008–09, Cascio collaborated with the Australian Broadcasting Commission as a writer and consultant to produce Bluebird AR,[25] an interactive multimedia drama that encouraged viewers to participate, and think about issues in geoengineering. The show was broadcast from April–June 2010.[26]

Is Google making us stupid?[edit]

Is Google Making Us Stupid? was a 2008 article by Nicholas Carr, which was later expanded on in The Shallows. Carr suggested that the ready access to knowledge provided by internet search engines was affecting people's cognition skills; encouraging them to 'skim' information at the expense of critical thinking and focused research. Based on his personal experiences, Carr even wondered if the brain was being permanently affected.[27]

Responding in the same publication a year later, Cascio argued that human cognition has always evolved to meet environmental challenges, and that those posed by the internet are no different: the 'skimming' referred to by Carr was a form of attention deficit caused by the immaturity of filter algorithms. Cascio further argued that the problem will diminish as human needs exert evolutionary pressure of their own to cause the algorithms to improve.[28]

The two articles have been used to promote topical debate in several places. Pew Research used them to form a tension-pair question survey that was distributed to noted academics. Most responded in detail; 76% agreeing with the proposition "Carr was wrong: Google does not make us stupid".[29] When discussing the topic in The Googlisation of Everything, Siva Vaidhyanathan tended to side with Carr. However, he thought both arguments relied too much on determinism: Carr in thinking that an over-reliance on internet tools will inevitably cause the brain to atrophy, and Cascio in thinking that getting smarter is the necessary outcome of the evolutionary pressures he describes.[7] John Naughton noted, in From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg, that many agreed Carr had hit on an important subject, but that his conclusions were not widely supported.[8]

Cascio has since modified his stance, conceding that, while the internet remains good at illuminating knowledge, it is even better at manipulating emotion. "If Carr wrote his Atlantic essay now [2020] with the title ‘Is Facebook Making Us Stupid?’ it would be difficult to argue in favor of ‘No.’".[30]


  • Broken Dreams (Transhuman Space) (Steve Jackson Games, 2003).[16]
  • Toxic Memes (Transhuman Space) (Steve Jackson Games, 2004).[17]
  • Worldchanging: a User's Guide to the 21st Century (2006) (contributing author).[31]
  • Hacking the Earth: Understanding the Consequences of Geoengineering (self-published, 2009).[32][33]



  1. ^ Jemima Gibbons (2009). Monkeys with Typewriters. Triarchy Press Limited. pp. 104–. ISBN 978-0-9565379-8-0. Retrieved January 27, 2016. In 2005, the writer and futurist Jamais Cascio made a pertinent prediction... soon we will be living in a world of near omniscient surveillance, he said, and ... called this world the 'Participatory Panopticon...
  2. ^ Staff Writer, Public Information Office (April 21, 2010). "Alumni speakers hope for the future". University of California: Santa Cruz Newscenter. Retrieved January 26, 2016. ... Cascio (Cowell, anthropology and history '88)
  3. ^ "Alumni US". Retrieved June 13, 2021.
  4. ^ Frost, Robin (November 21, 1996). "Experts Give Small Businesses Pointers on Creating Web Sites". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved October 11, 2015. "People are still trying to figure out how to make money on the Net," says Jamais Cascio, technology and information systems manager at Global Business Network
  5. ^ a b Frankel, Rebecca (November 2009). "The FP Top 100 Global Thinkers". Foreign Policy Magazine. Retrieved September 16, 2015. 72. Jamais Cascio: for being our moral guide to the future.
  6. ^ Kaku, Michio (2011). Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100. pp. 208–9. OCLC 646629178.
  7. ^ a b Siva Vaidhyanathan (March 13, 2012). The Googlization of Everything: (And Why We Should Worry). University of California Press. pp. 181–. ISBN 978-0-520-95245-4. Retrieved January 27, 2016. Cascio claimed that electronic media are among the great technological advances that we humans now use to simulate evolution...
  8. ^ a b c John Naughton (December 22, 2011). From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg: What You Really Need to Know About the Internet. Quercus Publishing. pp. 26–. ISBN 978-0-85738-547-5.
  9. ^ Nora Young (April 10, 2012). The Virtual Self: How the casual information you create virtually is changing the physical world around you. McClelland & Stewart. pp. 106–. ISBN 978-0-7710-7065-5.
  10. ^ Brian Wassom (December 9, 2014). Augmented Reality Law, Privacy, and Ethics: Law, Society, and Emerging AR Technologies. Elsevier Science. pp. 287–. ISBN 978-0-12-800524-8.
  11. ^ Jamais Cascio Bio Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. Ieet.org. Retrieved November 29, 2011.
  12. ^ Scientific American Editors (November 16, 2015). Eureka! The Science of Genius. Scientific American. pp. 176–. ISBN 978-1-4668-5900-5. {{cite book}}: |author= has generic name (help)
  13. ^ Jamais Cascio: ITFT Distinguished Fellow Retrieved September 12, 2015
  14. ^ Ensia Advisory Council Retrieved September 13, 2015.
  15. ^ a b UAT Tech (April 28, 2017). "Technology Futurist, Jamais Cascio, Named As An Honorary Doctorate from UAT". University of Advancing Education. Archived from the original on May 15, 2017. Retrieved May 6, 2017.
  16. ^ a b Cascio, Jamais (November 2003). Broken Dreams (Transhuman Space) (2003). Steve Jackson Games. ISBN 1556346506.
  17. ^ a b Cascio, Jamais (April 2004). Toxic Memes (Transhuman Space). Steve Jackson Games. ISBN 155634726X.
  18. ^ Julie Newman (May 3, 2011). Green Ethics and Philosophy: An A-to-Z Guide. SAGE Publications. pp. 375–. ISBN 978-1-4522-6622-0.
  19. ^ Lindsay Rae; Ashley Clements; Sarah Marland; Adam Valvasori (March 8, 2012). World Poverty for Dummies. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 224–. ISBN 978-1-118-34869-7.
  20. ^ Friend, Gil (June 8, 2009), The Truth About Green Business, Que, p. 106, ISBN 978-0768694208
  21. ^ Baldwin, Alex (Narr.) Bowman, Ron (Dir.) (2008). Six Degrees Could Change The World (DVD). National Geographic. 21:10 minutes in.
  22. ^ McGonigal, Jane (2011). Reality is Broken. Penguin Press. pp. 315–9. ISBN 978-1-59420-285-8.
  23. ^ Cascio, Jamais (2009), Hacking the Earth: Understanding the Consequences of Geoengineering, Lulu.com, OCLC 439825934
  24. ^ Olsen, Bob (July 2009), Big Ideas for Saving the Earth, vol. 43, The Futurist, p. 51, archived from the original on February 1, 2016, retrieved January 25, 2016
  25. ^ Bluebird AR: Credits, Australian Broadcasting Commission, 2010, retrieved January 27, 2016, Writer and consultant: Jamais Cascio
  26. ^ Bluebird AR: Open Archive of an Interactive Drama From the ABC, Australian Broadcasting Commission, 2010, retrieved September 30, 2015
  27. ^ Carr, Nicholas (July 2008). "Is Google Making Us Stupid?". The Atlantic Monthly. Retrieved February 4, 2016.
  28. ^ Cascio, Jamais (July 2009). "Get Smarter". The Atlantic Monthly. Retrieved February 4, 2016.
  29. ^ Janna Anderson; Lee Rainie (February 19, 2010). "Future of the Internet IV. Part 1: A review of responses to a tension pair about whether Google will make people stupid". Pew Research Center. Retrieved February 4, 2016.
  30. ^ Anderson, Dan (December 2020). "New Imagining the Internet report: Digital Life 2020". Elon University. Retrieved February 9, 2021.
  31. ^ Steffen, Alex (2006). Worldchanging: A user's guide for the 21st century. Abrams. OCLC 70258916.
  32. ^ "Confronting the ‘futuristic’ branding of geoengineering". The People's Voice, December 6, 2010, By Rady Ananda
  33. ^ "20 Essential Books About the Next Step in Human Evolution". Annalee Newitz 11/12/2012

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