#08 Gemma Milne talks SMOKE AND MIRRORS, Her New Book | WeAreSTS

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Will robots steal my job? Will gene editing cure my cancer? HYPE is a fundamental part of science communication, the development of new technologies, and the crucially important interface between business, investment, and new technology. How does HYPE work? Can it be used for good? In this interview, Gemma Milne discusses her book, Smoke and Mirrors, and her interest in HYPE as an ever-present phenomenon in our society. Gemma also discusses how she became interested in studying sociology of technology and innovation research, beginning with her first degree in mathematics, and her later journey through the finance and tech start-up industries, then science journalism.

Gemma’s book:

Milne, Gemma. 2020. Smoke and Mirrors. How Hype Obscures the Future and How to See Past It (London: Robinson). ISBN 9781472143662.

A related YouTube video in which Gemma discusses her book.

Smoke and Mirrors has been selected as the STS1Book for 2021-22. Each year, the Department asks all staff and students to read one book in common during the summer, then arrive for the new session ready to discuss both its substance and its broader value. Incoming students should read this prescribed book. It will be the subject of activities during induction week and will be used in Year 1 courses. Titles are selected for inclusion by the STS Undergraduate Programme Tutor from suggested offered by students and staff. For more information:


Gemma Milne also is co-host of the “Radical Science” podcast.


At the time of recording, Gemma was a PhD researcher in UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies (STS).

She creates a newsletter, “Brain Reel” https://brainreel.substack.com


Twitter: @gemmamilne




Music credits

Podcast information

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Editing and post-production by Professor Joe Cain.

“WeAreSTS” producer is Professor Joe Cain.

Twitter: @stsucl #WeAreSTS