#15 Gemma Milne on SMOKE AND MIRRORS in conversation with Jack Stilgoe | WeAreSTS

WeAreSTS - A Podcast from UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies (STS), hosted by Professor Joe Cain.

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 conversation at the 2022 STS1Book celebration at University College London, Gemma Milne discusses her book, SMOKE AND MIRRORS, with Jack Stilgoe. They discuss her interest in HYPE as an ever-present phenomenon in our society, and how it affects thinking about technology today. Gemma and Jack reflect on the importance of hype-awareness in society. It’s not always a bad thing, Gemma says, but we need to be alert to how hype skews the conversation.

SMOKE AND MIRRORS was 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.

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

More content from Gemma Milne

Gemma Milne talks about SMOKE AND MIRRORS in WeAreSTS episode #8.

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

She creates a newsletter, “Brain Reel”.




Music credits

  • “Rollin At 5,” by Kevin MacLeod
    License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Production information

Yue Zhu, a first-year student in STS, recorded this episode live at the STS1Book celebration in May 2022.

Editing and post-production by Professor Joe Cain.

Podcast information

“WeAreSTS” is a production of the Department of Science and Technology Studies (STS) at University College London (UCL). To find out more, and to leave feedback about the show, visit us online:


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“WeAreSTS” producer is Professor Joe Cain.

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