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Steven Johnson: The Past, Present, and Future of the Human Life Span

About The Episode

In the last century, human life expectancy has doubled. This hour, we talk with writer Steven Johnson on the many breakthroughs that made this possible — and where we go from here.

About Steven Johnson

Steven Johnson is a non-fiction writer, podcaster, and TV host. He writes on the intersection of science, technology, and personal experience. He is the author of 13 books, including The Ghost Map, Where Good Ideas Come From, and most recently, Extra Life: A Short History of Living Longer. His latest book concerns the scientific and governmental innovations that doubled human life expectancy in the last 100 years. It was recently adapted into a PBS series of the same name.

Johnson has also hosted another PBS series, How We Got To Now. He currently hosts the Wondery podcast American Innovations, and writes regularly for the New York Times Magazine and WIRED. Johnson also authors the email newsletter, Adjacent Possible, exploring where good ideas come from–and how to keep them from turning against us.

Johnson has an undergraduate degree in semiotics from Brown University, and a graduate degree in English literature from Columbia University.

This segment of the TED Radio Hour was produced by Rachel Faulkner and Diba Mohtasham and was edited by Katie Simon and James Delahoussaye. You can follow us on Twitter @TEDRadioHour and email us at

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Manoush Zomorodi is the host of TED Radio Hour. She is a journalist, podcaster and media entrepreneur, and her work reflects her passion for investigating how technology and business are transforming humanity.
Rachel Faulkner is a producer and editor for TED Radio Hour.
Katie Simon
Katie Simon is the Supervising Editor for Embedded, which showcases premier enterprise documentary storytelling for NPR and the NPR Network.