CBC Spark

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Creation Date April 18th, 2020
Updated Date Updated May 1st, 2020
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  1. How to hack your baby's sleep. An app built by, and for, Labrador Inuit. Inside the botnet black market. And why the 14-hour workday is B.S.
  2. As physical distancing and isolation continues, we're saturated with information and interaction on screens big and small, often several screens at once, and All. Day. Long. We've become desperate for tactile, analogue things: Witness the breadmaking phenomenon on social media. Or how so many of us are really, really into caring for our plants.People are sewing. Or doing physical, old-fashioned puzzles. For the first few weeks there was a different energy of connecting in a new way. Much of our day was spent in video conferences with colleagues, and then our evenings were spent on even more video conferencing platforms! Chatting with family, having virtual parties with friends, or joining hard-to-hear trivia games with glitchy hosts. Now into the second month, some of us look at our laptops and phones with exhaustion. So this week, we're looking at ways to help us survive in an world where everything has become virtual, but so many of us are craving touch. + Neuroscientist Victoria Abraira explains why touch is so important to us as social beings and how our relationship to it might change because of the coronavirus pandemic. + Professor of Ophthalmology Christine Law talks about the impact of screen time on eye health, and offers tips for managing eye strain in this screen-intensive time. + Behavioural scientist Juliana Schroeder shares research into staying online in a healthy way. She also explains how we build trust in online communication.
  3. What do ham radios, 18th-century British roadways and the 1990 film "Pump Up The Volume" all have in common? They all foreshadowed internet culture! This week on Spark: a fun and illuminating look at how early moments in Western culture hinted at our digital lives today. Featuring guests Jordan Hermant, Jo Guldi, Colin Newell, Kristin Haring, and Anais Saint-Jude. 
  4. When new technology comes along—or we use it in new ways—it raises questions of etiquette and ethics. With so many of us opening a digital window into our homes in an unprecedented way, are we reimagining our relationship with our technologies—and each other? And what risks are involved with so many of us repurposing our home technology for work, or using apps and tools that haven't been tested at the kind of scale that which people are now using them? + Ainissa Ramirez is a materials scientist and the author of the new book, The Alchemy of Us. In it, she chronicles eight life-changing inventions, and the inventors behind them. + Hannah Sung explores how to connect with our friends and loved ones while being mindful of their privacy—and what privacy looks like in today's pandemic circumstances. + John Scott-Railton of the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab describes how repurposing often-older home computers and using unsecure apps create privacy and security risks—that could be exploited by hackers and other bad actors.
  5. As the pandemic continues to keep a lot of us at home, today we look at access and technology: Social access to each other as we physically isolate. Access to the devices and data that keep us connected. And securing access to the internet when networks are under strain. Even in your own home, with people working and learning remotely It's easy to see why we often think of the internet as something intangible. We talk about being 'virtual' and storing things in the cloud. It's not until something goes wrong that we're reminded the internet actually does have a physical form: routers, cables, wires. Now that we're in the midst of a global pandemic, how much of a strain is there on that infrastructure? What can we do to keep the internet working well? How can we ensure that everyone who needs access gets it? + Mark Wolff is the CTO of CANARIE, which maintains the network that connects Canada's academic and scientific research institutions. He talks about how internet infrastructure is faring under the load presented by the pandemic. + Laura Tribe is the executive director of OpenMedia, an organization that advocates for internet freedom. She says the current public health crisis is bringing the digital divide in the country to the forefront. She shares some advice on how to make the most of unlimited internet access in one's household and community now, and what needs to be done to make the internet a basic service in the future. + Aimée Morrison researches how people represent themselves online. She explores the delightful, complicated, troubling, and goofy ways we're responding online to physical distance.
  6. This week, Spark is coming to you from five different locations across Toronto, none of which is the CBC building! Like many people all over the world this week, we're working from home. Remote work is something we've talked about a lot on Spark over the past decade, but we've never done anything like this! We recognize that many people aren't able to work remotely, and we'll be addressing that too. But for people who can—and should—be working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, we're going to explore the best ways to do this, using current technology. + Natalie Nagele is the co-founder and CEO of Wildbit, a Philadelphia-based software company, whose employees have been working remotely for 20 years, and which recently switched to a four-day workweek. Natalie explains how this works for Wildbit, and what other managers can learn from her experience. + Shawn D. Long, Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and Professor of Communication at Kennesaw State University in Georgia, U.S. He's an expert in organizational communications, and he's studied how office politics plays out in virtual offices.
  7. In an age of digital devices and near constant distractions, many of us feel like our attention spans are shrinking. The good news is: we can get our power of concentration back. So this week on Spark, a handbook on how to concentrate in a distracting world. + Stefan Van der Stigchel is a cognitive psychologist and author of Concentration: Staying Focused in Times of Distraction. He says that there's no reason to believe our ability to concentrate is being permanently eroded by digital distraction, but concentration is like a muscle you have to work to maintain. + As we age we find it more difficult to concentrate. Tarek Amer and fellow researchers found a possible upside: being scattered may help in creative thought. Tarek is also researching whether we can use older folks' distractibility as a way to deliver helpful reminders.Tarek is a Canadian Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Psychology at Columbia University. + Michael Shammas, a lawyer in New York who decided to unplug his headphones for a week. After spending years tethered to his phone while working at a corporate law firm, Michael decided he needed to shake things up. So he abandoned the comfort of his audio bubble, to see what he could learn by reconnecting with his inner monologue.
  8. For many of us—even without it being much of a conscious choice—buying music has been replaced by subscribing to a music streaming service. Here in Canada, streaming numbers have long overtaken physical or digital album sales. One study reported over 75 billion streams in 2019, a 30 percent increase from the year before. Compare that to sales, which have dropped by 25 per cent in the same time period. As record stores close, streaming platforms continue to crop up. Spotify, Apple Music, CBC Listen, YouTube Music, Tidal - and that's just in North America! Their offers keep expanding too: just last month, Spotify launched a separate app just for kid-friendly songs. And it's not just that it's changed how we access music. Listening is becoming more about singles and playlists geared to moods and activities. An endless stream of music, you might say. Major music events like the Junos usually boost the streaming numbers and sales for winning artists. So with the 2020 Juno Awards coming up on March 15th, we are looking into what we gain and lose when streaming music. And how is that changing the music that we listen to? + Liz Pelly is a writer covering music, culture and streaming, and a contributing editor, columnist and event producer at Baffler Magazine. She's also an adjunct instructor at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. + Gary Sinclair, Lecturer in Marketing at Dublin City University, who's studied how our changing habits around music listening affect our sense of music ownership. + Miranda Mulholland, musician and owner of Roaring Girl Records, and a musicians' rights advocate. Her album, By Appointment or Chance, is nominated for a JUNO this year in the Traditional Roots Album of the Year category
  9. What if there was an alternative to buildings made from concrete, steel and glass? Many of those materials—especially concrete—are very energy intensive to produce. This week on Spark, we look at some of the ways architects are trying to incorporate living materials into building construction, or create spaces that seem alive in the sense that they interact with us in a fundamental way. Could our future homes be living things? + Phil Ayres is an architect in Copenhagen, and he's working with mycelium, the fibrous network that supports mushrooms and other fungi—and is, as it turns out, a great building material! + Philip Beesley is a Toronto architect and sculptor who leads the Living Architecture Systems Group, which explores—and pushes—the boundaries of interactive spaces, using both biological and fabricated material.
  10. We've seen an incredible change in the architecture of the internet. Not just how it operates, but how we operate within it. Think back to the days when YouTube was new, only a handful of people knew what Facebook was, and cell phones were for making phone calls! Early adopters were making podcasts and writing blogs. Wikipedia was an exciting experiment. The old gatekeepers of media were crumbling and the web seemed open to everyone. Today, however, we largely experience the internet through apps, ads and proprietary platforms. There's the decline of the open source software movement, the possibility of a fragmented internet, and the growing popularity of small, closed networks. But, is it really case-closed on the open web? And if so, why should we care? + David Weinberger is a researcher at Harvard University's Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. He's also the author of, most recently, Everyday Chaos: Technology, Complexity and How We're Thriving in a New World of Possibility. + Takara Small is the technology columnist for CBC Toronto's morning show, Metro Morning. She's also the founder of VentureKids Canada, and host of the Globe and Mail's tech podcast, I'll Go First.
  11. Google Maps. It's turning 15. Fifteen! We're looking back at some of the many stories about maps we've covered on past seasons of Spark. We'll look back at maps for smells, maps for noises, and even how some people are using Google Street View for birding!
  12. Polarization and social-media filter bubbles are destroying our shared sense of reality. Does this mean society is headed toward a state of psychosis?
  13. After years of Netflix and YouTube dominating streaming video, a raft of new services is arriving, yours for the price of a subscription. What does this mean for the future of how we watch? That, plus exploring the surprising role the pornography industry has played in the technology of streaming.Spark host Nora Young speaks with Patrick Keilty, a professor and archives director of the Sexual Representation Collection in the Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies at the University of Toronto; Ed Finn, the Director of the Centre for Science and the Imagination at Arizona State University; Dan Rayburn, a principal analyst with Frost and Sullivan, and JP Larocque, a TV writer and journalist.
  14. It's winter (duh). Long nights, cold days, and, for much of the country, snow. But should we be cowering inside or embracing it? This week on Spark, we look at how public design and personal mindset can allow us to make the most—and even get excited by—winter. Isla Tanaka, Edmonton's WinterCity planner, explains how her city is helping patios stay open all year, keeping parks accessible, and using urban design to mitigate darkness and wind. Michele Acuto, Professor of Global Urban Politics at Melbourne University, explains how we can improve "the other 9-to-5": the urban nightscape, to make it more pedestrian and worker friendly. Mark Hadlari, a digital producer with CBC North's current affairs unit, describes sunrise at the end of the polar night. And Kari Leibowitz, a Stanford psychologist, describes what she learned by spending a year in Tromsø, Norway, where residents have very low winter depression and seasonal affective disorder rates, despite being 300 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle. (Spoiler alert: It's all about mindset.)
  15. The Netflix movie "Marriage Story" has received lots of recognition, including six Oscar nominations. Critics and viewers are entranced by its realistic look at a couple who want to split up amicably, but are swayed by those around them, including lawyers. They end up in a vicious legal battle that might never have happened if they had been presented with an alternative. Separation and divorce are common in Canada. But whether you're married or common law, have kids or cats (or both!) splitting up is never an easy thing. Now, though, new online services and tech tools aim to make the process easier. They range from online mediation, to apps that help with co-parenting. The overarching goal is to keep the process of splitting up and co-parenting *out* of the court system. To simplify and demystify the whole process. And that's what we're exploring on this Spark podcast. Guests this week: Rebecca Jaremko Bromwich is a lawyer and the National Diversity and Inclusion manager at Gowling WLG in Ottawa, and is affiliated with Carleton University. She recently concluded a study examining how technology generally and apps such as OurFamilyWizard are changing the way separated and divorced parents co-parent. Chris Bentley, the former Attorney General of Ontario, is the managing director of the Legal Innovation Zone at Ryerson University, which helps improve access to the legal system and provides free online resources to separating and divorcing couples. Jenny Friedland is a lawyer and mediator in Toronto, who helps couples "exhaust the hate" and try to separate without resorting to litigation.
  16. If we've learned anything in the tech world over the last decade, it's the folly of not taking the long view. So the start of a new decade seems like a good time to talk "big picture" with Lord Martin Rees, one of the world's most prominent scientists. His most recent book is called "On the Future: Prospects for Humanity." In a full-episode interview, Sir Martin and Nora don't just look decades ahead, but also millions of years into human future.
  17. With phone scams on the rise and 5G around the corner, how well are we prepared for the 2020s? A feature interview with CRTC Chair Ian Scott.
  18. How making AI do goofy things exposes its limitations: In her book, "You Look Like a Thing and I Love You," Janelle Shane eposes the pitfalls of AI dependence. Also, Musician-turned-AI-researcher David Usher talks about ReImagine AI, he effort to make a better machine-human interface.
  19. We revisit conversations with people who've dedicated their research to helping us rest, recharge and return to nature.
  20. New technology often gets talked about as a neutral object. But technology has politics. It's designed and used by humans. And humans have priorities and beliefs and blinders. This week on Spark we're look at how technology can be used to both liberate and empower. We're going to start with the civil rights movement in the United States. Charlton McIlwain is the author of Black Software: The Internet and racial justice, from the AfroNet to Black Lives Matter. He explains to Nora how the development of computing technology was used to suppress African Americans during the civil rights movement, and beyond. But he also describes how, as a community, Black people were able to harness technology and bring issues of systemic racial injustice to national and international attention following the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. In the second half of the show, we look at tech innovation beyond the boundaries of Silicon Valley and the broader Global North. Ramesh Srinivasan, the author of Beyond the Valley: How Innovators around the World are Overcoming Inequality and Creating the Technologies of Tomorrow, talks to Nora about several projects in Africa and South Asia where innovators, often working with discarded materials, are creating inspiring technology—in defiance of the large corporations in the U.S. and China.
  21. Henry David Thoreau's book, Walden; or, Life in the Woods, is a seminal work of literature—and one of the greatest arguments ever made in favour of simple living. This week on Spark we're revisiting Walden, and looking at its elegant relevance for today's world, as more and more people seek respite from their technology-addled, fast-paced lives.
  22. Failure is having a moment in the tech industry. What can that teach us about our limitations and how we measure success?
  23. A roundup of Spark stories from the past that explore the unintended consequences of new technology.
  24. The internet offers a huge amount of information, usually for free. So how has that affected the institutions we have traditionally learned from: our schools, colleges, and universities? How does it affect health care?
  25. People with disabilities want to be participants in design, not recipients of design.
  26. Everything we do is analyzed, measured, and quantified to create a model of us online, which then tries to influence our behavour. But how accurate is our quantified self?
  27. From following GPS directions to not having to memorize anyone's phone number, it's been ages since we've had to remember things! But is that bad for our brains? This week, a look at how the internet has changed the way we know and remember.
  28. A roundup of Spark stories from the past year that explore the past, present and future of smart home technology.
  29. As we seek to feed a growing global population, new food technologies are opening up a world of synthetic food production: from synthesizing products at the molecular level, to stem cells grown to create flesh, to farming⁠—and eating⁠—insects. But how many innovations will move from pricey experiments in the lab to your plate?
  30. It's election season in Canada, and this week on Spark we're taking a look at the how tools used to mislead people have developed through history.
  31. More than half a million Canadians live with dementia—and that number is rising. From urban planning to smart home technology, we look at some of the innovations that can support people living with dementia, as well as their caregivers.
  32. If digital tools mean everyone's a dj or filmmaker, do those tools devalue or replace skill and craft? What does craft actually look like in an age of digital reproduction? And combining a love of craft with activism, for a new era of "craftivism."
  33. A look inside the black boxes of two of the hidden systems we rely on every day. Inside the complex world of weather forecasting, and a deep, deep dive to the bottom of the ocean to explore the dizzying array of undersea cables that make up the backbone of the internet.
  34. Season 13 of Spark begins with a look at how communication has changed thanks to our use of digital and mobile tools. From emojis and abbreviations to how we talk to our virtual assistants, how do we talk to each other today?
  35. Our virtual assistants aren't ready to give advice Do you talk to your smart speaker? Heather Suzanne Woods is an assistant professor of rhetoric and technology at Kansas State University. She's studied how humans use language to make sense of technological change and why people seem to have a relationship with their devices. 'Digisexuals' and the rise of human-android romance A look at how more and more people are identifying as "digisexuals," a new term describing those whose primary sexual identity comes through the use of technology. Ian McEwan on his new book, Machines Like Me In his latest novel, Machines Like Me, Ian McEwan tackles AI, a love triangle, and our all-too-human messy morals. Set in an alternative UK in the 1980s, where real life computer pioneer Alan Turing is still alive, and has led a technical revolution bringing hyper-realistic robots to daily life, the novel raises questions of what it means to be human.
  36. How to make your own computer: embroider it, of course! Irene Posch is an artist who uses textiles to explore electronics. She and Ebru Kurbak recently designed an embroidery 8 bit computer, using historic patterns of gold embroidery and beads. Taking birding to the streets Google's Street View has yielded a trove of information, from illicit activities to acts of great kindness. And it turns out the service is really good for an activity usually done offline: birding. Nick Lund, a writer for the National Audubon Society and creator of the website, The Birdist, explains his latest avian adventure: Google Street View Birding. Girls Scouts introduce 'cybersecurity' badge Step aside Baton-twirling Badge! Some branches of The Girl Scouts in the U.S. now have a new cybersecurity patch. Spark host Nora Young speaks with Girl Scouts Nation's Capital troop leader Hillary Tabor and her 11-year-old daughter Maya. She also speaks with Krysta Coyle, the Girl Guides of Canada's Guiding Ambassador, to hear what the organization is doing to engage Canadian girls in STEM. 'Gaming' the system to discuss climate change Fortnite, is the most popular streaming game in history. More people watch gamers play Fortnite on the Twitch streaming service than watch NFL football. That gave oceanographer Henri Drake an idea. He created "ClimateFortnite," in which he and other climate scientists play the game and also answer questions about climate change using the in-game chat. Could this trojan-horse style of education in a gaming environment be an effective way to teach and reach people? MIT qualitative sociologist T.L. Taylor, who has focused on internet and game studies for over two decades, explains the interrelations between culture and technology in online leisure environments.
  37. Confused by 'smart city' hype? This expert explains what it is and why we should care As cities around the world begin integrating technology more deeply into urban infrastructure, it's still not clear what people mean when they talk about "smart cities." Urban sustainability professor Andrew Karvonen talks about how to define smart cities, as well as some concerns critics have about the so-called cities of the future. Most Canadians skeptical about smart cities when it comes to their privacy Earlier this year, a survey found that 88 per cent of Canadians are concerned on some level about their privacy when it comes to smart cities. Researcher Sarah Bannerman says that governments need to step up when it comes to protecting people's data. No single company should have a monopoly on building smart cities, tech entrepreneur says If a smart city's infrastructure is built by a single corporation, it may end up being like like a technological walled garden, which could harm collaboration and innovation, says Kurtis McBride. To protect privacy, there need to be limits on smart cities' surveillance A panel at a security and privacy conference in Victoria, B.C., earlier this year, discusses how a smart city can be efficient, safe and open. Speakers include former Ontario Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian, David Izzard, the Architecture & Cyber Security Manager for the City of Surrey, BC, and Andrew Clement, a member of the Waterfront Toronto Digital Strategy Advisory Board. What living in a hyper-connected city means for human beings Canada Research Chair in the Internet of Things and OCAD University professor Alexis Morris says people need to be at the centre of smart cities with contextually aware public spaces.
  38. A new opinion in the social media echo chamber could close it even tighter Disrupting our social media echo chambers with an opposing view may seem like the best way to reduce political polarization. But sociologist Christopher Bail from Duke University found it can actually entrench people's views and opinions even more. Be it resolved that your next debating opponent may be ... beyond human! Can AI be taught to mount a convincing argument ... with no time to prepare? IBM's Project Debate AI is focused on building a conversational artificial intelligence capable of engaging in continuous, stimulated debate. This week, it lost in a debate with Harish Natarajan, a World Universities Debating Championships Grand Finalist. Harish tells Spark host Nora Young what it was like to debate and defeat an artificial intelligence. It's okay to cry on Instagram On Instagram, it can often seem like people are displaying an art directed, perfectly lit, ideal version of their lives. But now some see it as a place to reveal their full selves -- tears, warts and all. Aimee Morrison, an associate professor of English and Literature at the University of Waterloo, talks about what she thinks is behind this trend. Reclaiming boredom in digital culture Boredom is, well, boring. But it plays an important role for us. Boredom can open us up to the question of meaning and other deeply philosophical perspectives. But today, we look for a way out of boredom by endlessly scrolling and swiping. In his new book, philosopher Mark Kingwell argues that we're in a political economy of 'neoliberal boredom' fueled by our digital devices.A new opinion in the social media echo chamber could close it even tighter Disrupting our social media echo chambers with an opposing view may seem like the best way to reduce political polarization. But sociologist Christopher Bail from Duke University found it can actually entrench people's views and opinions even more. Be it resolved that your next debating opponent may be ... beyond human! Can AI be taught to mount a convincing argument ... with no time to prepare? IBM's Project Debate AI is focused on building a conversational artificial intelligence capable of engaging in continuous, stimulated debate. This week, it lost in a debate with Harish Natarajan, a World Universities Debating Championships Grand Finalist. Harish tells Spark host Nora Young what it was like to debate and defeat an artificial intelligence. It's okay to cry on Instagram On Instagram, it can often seem like people are displaying an art directed, perfectly lit, ideal version of their lives. But now some see it as a place to reveal their full selves -- tears, warts and all. Aimee Morrison, an associate professor of English and Literature at the University of Waterloo, talks about what she thinks is behind this trend. Reclaiming boredom in digital culture Boredom is, well, boring. But it plays an important role for us. Boredom can open us up to the question of meaning and other deeply philosophical perspectives. But today, we look for a way out of boredom by endlessly scrolling and swiping. In his new book, philosopher Mark Kingwell argues that we're in a political economy of 'neoliberal boredom' fueled by our digital devices.
  39. Conserve The Sound preserves the sound Daniel Chun and Jan Derksen run a film design and communication firm, based in Germany. But they're also interested in preserving vanishing and endangered sounds. They created Conserve the Sound, an online museum of vintage sounds. From rotary dial phones to a Polaroid cameras, the site documents sounds from the past before they completely disappear from our daily life. How an AI can help you play piano like Glenn Gould Piano Genie works using a neural network to create a predictive algorithm. Instead of predicting what word you're likely to type next, it predicts what note typically follows the notes that you have played already. It does this based on a database of classical music it has been trained on. How to find humpback whale songs using AI Oceanographic researchers collected hundreds-of-thousands of hours of underwater recordings to study humpback whales in the South Pacific. But sifting through it to isolate whale calls would take about 19 years. That's why Google comes teamed up with the N.O.A.A. to help out. Research Oceanographer Ann Allen, describes how machine learning is now helping researchers sift through this sea of audio data to help them track whale populations. Cheese that's been exposed to music tastes different One cheese wheel listened to "The Magic Flute". One to "Stairway to Heaven" and another got A Tribe Called Quest's "Jazz (We've Got)." Yet another cheese just hung out in silence. Swiss cheesemaker Beat Wampfler tells Spark host Nora Young why he played a 24-hour loop of music to wheels of cheese and whether it had an impact on the flavour. Is there a playlist in your DNA? Music streaming giants are removing the curator and replacing it with data — and not just any data — your DNA. Spotify and Ancestry are teaming up to provide consumers with playlists curated by a users DNA and ethnic lineage. Deezer researchers used AI to curate playlists based on mood. But critics, like Toronto-based music journalists Eric Zaworski and Sajae Elder, think it might be kind of creepy and an invasion of privacy.
  40. Why it's wrong to take pictures of strangers You see it all the time on social media. Someone sees another person doing something stupid or looking ridiculous. They take a discreet photo and post the stranger's image to their feed, usually to the amusement and occasional mockery of their followers. With the ubiquity of smartphone cameras, you can do this, but should you? Lauren Cagle argues "surveilling strangers" amounts to policing people's behaviour and limiting our own ability to explore our identity. Restaurants need to meet set standards, why not tech platforms? Following Facebook's most recent data breach, many have suggested that tech giants like social media platforms should be regulated as 'information fiduciaries' and act in the best interests of their users. Jonathan Zittrain, Director of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, discusses what that would look like for platforms like Facebook. Why Computer Science Students Need Mandatory Ethics Shannon Vallor teaches ethics and emerging technology at Santa Clara University. Her classes typically have lots of computer science and engineering students in them, and it may be the only real ethical training they get. These days, they are clamouring for more ethics education. Why Canadian universities need to teach computer science ethics By and large, computer science programs in Canada don't require students to take ethics courses. As we hurtle into an era of artificial intelligence, Catherine Stinson argues we need to make ethics mandatory in university. Neural networks that power AI systems largely came from Canada Canada has become a centre for AI research thanks work being done here on neural networks, which use some of the ideas from neuroscience to help computers learn. One of the researchers behind these systems is Universite de Montreal professor, Yoshua Bengio. In a sit down with Spark host Nora Young, Bengio explains how the research developed, where it is going, and some of the dangers AI could pose.
  41. A fake grocery store helps us learn about the real thing At the University of Guelph, there a laboratory made to look like a grocery store. Cameras watch the shoppers as they move down the aisles and special headsets track the movements of their eyes. The Food Retail Lab is run by Mike Von Massow, a food economist and professor at the University of Guelph. He explains some of the tech being used in grocery stores, and how we can expect that tech to affect us. Why self checkout machines stick around, even if you hate them Self checkout machines are sometimes a last resort for shoppers, but stores keep pushing them. Researchers Madeleine Clare Elish and Alexandra Mateescu tell us about their report, AI in Context: The Labor of Integrating New Technologies, and how self checkout machines affect grocery workers. Why we don't get groceries delivered. And why we are starting to. Time was, you'd drive to a sprawling grocery store and fill up your car with food for a few weeks. But in dense urban centres with few cars, grocery delivery is becoming more popular. Retail marketing expert Patricia Vekich Waldron explains what's at stake (steak?) when it comes to getting foodstuffs to your doorstep. "Zero-waste" grocery stores are taking off From Brooklyn, Sicily, Malaysia, South Africa, Vancouver and Toronto-- a growing number of supermarkets are selling food without packaging in an effort to curb the toll of plastic on the environment. Journalist Emily Matchar sheds light on how a growing number of supermarkets are selling food without packaging in an effort to curb the toll of plastic on the environment.
  42. With the growth in wearable technology, not to mention smartphone apps, it's easier than ever to count steps, monitor heart rate and more. But do all those scores really help us understand ourselves and our health? Holly Witteman is an associate professor in the department of family and emergency medicine at Laval University in Quebec City. She also has type 1 diabetes, and now uses a continuous glucose monitor. Bill Buxton, design thinker and Principal Researcher with Microsoft Research, argues that designers need to spend more time to help us learn to listen to our bodies, not just pump out stats. Researcher Sheng Xu and his team have designed a flexible electronic patch, about the size of a postage stamp, that can measure blood pressure. It can potentially be used to easily monitor patients at risk of a heart attack. It also points to a future of non-invasive tools for continuous health monitoring. Wearable sensors are for more than just tracking daily footsteps. They can help with monitoring early signs of medical conditions. Rosalind Picard, from MIT's Media Lab, works in affective computing: designing systems that can read human emotions. Nutrition advice is often one-size-fits-all. But nutrigenetics, or nutrigenomics promises a more customized nutrition plan. Dylan Mackay is a nutritional biochemist at the University of Manitoba. Ahmed El-Sohemy is professor in nutritional sciences at University of Toronto, and the founder of Nutrigenomix which offers genetic testing for personal nutrition. We want to dig in on their research and differing views on this topic to help you make up your own mind.
  43. The argument for Inbox Infinity Andre Spicer talks about the allure of abandoning the idea of "inbox zero" and just letting the messages stack up How to tidy up your personal tech, Marie Kondo-style Brian X. Chen shares his tips about tidying up your technology physically and digitally, Marie Kondo-style. An office cubicle that's just like you? We're all different so why can't our office cubicles reflect our personality? A Toronto design firm, has created a flexible, pop-up workspace that can be reconfigured according to a person's workplace personality. Architect and SDI Design Creative Director Noam Hazan discusses how it works. Productivity is Counterproductive The focus on workplace efficiency and systemized time management goes back to the turn of the last century, but in today's tech-driven world, it has become a badge of honour, an obsession that prioritizes individual mastery of activity over the actual meaning of work. In her new book, Counterproductive, Melissa Gregg argues it isolates us and takes the politics out of work. Procrastinating? You need a boss! Being self-employed can be great, but it can also be easy to procrastinate, especially if you work at home. The solution? Pay a fee for a boss to make sure you stick to deadlines! Manasvini Krishna is a software developer. She designed Boss as a Service to help people get more done in a day.
  44. How Uber makes traffic worse Last summer, New York City capped the number of Uber and Lyft drivers allowed on city streets, and London, UK is considering doing the same. It's an attempt to manage congestion. But wasn't ride-sharing supposed to reduce congestion? Transportation planning expert Bruce Schaller explains how it has actually made things worse. The evolution of airport design They might bright and modernist, or dark and brutalist. But one problem all airport designers have to deal with is the sheer distance people have to get through between the check-in counter and the departure gate. Janet Bednarek is an aviation and design historian—and she explains the challenges that still exist in designing the modern airport. Are we driving cars or are cars driving us? With everything from car subscriptions to scooter sharing, we're still stuck in traffic. Gabe Klein is the former Transportation Commissioner for Chicago & Washington D.C. believes our relationship with the car has to change — and that technology may be the driving force to change it.
  45. Autonomous cars are still a ways off⁠—but autonomous boats are in Amerstdam's canals. In his new book, The Creativity Code, Marcus du Sautoy looks at the state of the art in AI creativity. Introducing GLITCH, the world's first AI fashion brand.
  46. How smart home security could have real impacts on privacy, racial profiling. Empowering trans people with technical and digital skills. The evolution of the syntheszier. The cognitive cost of communications bloat.
  47. Teaching AI about human comedy. Pairing online security tips with beauty tutorials. Photo swapping marketing stunt crosses Wikipedia line.
  48. A surgeon develops a drone to deliver organs for transplant. If an AI trader makes a mistake, who is responsible? How 5G networks could mess up meteorology. Is Yelp creating a surveillance state for restaurant workers?
  49. A 200-year-old bicycle inspires design for climate change. A simple fix for the huge carbon footprint of YouTube videos. Video games and ramen noodles: A look inside an esports team house. The surprising ways coders shape our lives.
  50. Booker-prize-winning author Ian McEwan talks about AI and his latest book, Machines Like Me. CES restores its 'Innovation Award' to women's pleasure product, The Osé. And are 'smart' prisons necessary for safety, or an invasion of privacy?
  51. MLB umpires need tech help at the plate, says researcher. Introducing Speedgate: the world's first AI-designed sport. Cold War spy plane images illustrate human development-and destruction. The health of the internet in 2019: Deepfakes, biased AI and addiction by design.
  52. Ryerson's DMZ breaks the stigma around mental health in startup culture. Kids in Nunavut use role-playing computer games to manage depression. What we can expect from "Wifi 6." And philosopher Mark Kingwell reclaims boredom in his new book, "Wish I Was Here."
  53. From Stockholm to Sidewalk Labs, smart-city technology is rapidly expanding. Sensors embedded in roads, video surveillance, and connected devices everywhere. Will this make urban life a utopian dream, or privacy nightmare? In a special edition of Spark, Nora Young speaks to urban design experts, community leaders and academics to see what the city of the future might look like.
  54. Cheese wheels bombarded by music taste different. New doc looks at the evolution of emoji. Study suggests cash values for 'free' digital services. From neuroscience to neural nets, Canadian researchers are on the vanguard of AI.
  55. Why we shouldn't be afraid to take our tech apart. AI can be easily fooled and this could have serious implications. Sell your own data instead of giving it away to big tech. New stock photo collection features trans and non-binary models.
  56. How the smart home might imprison us, AI and the war on cybersecurity, whether an AI can be an artistic collaborator, and Wikidata's catalogue of the universe.
  57. How the smart home might imprison us, AI and the war on cybersecurity, whether an AI can be an artistic collaborator, and Wikidata's catalogue of the universe.
  58. Tech at the Food Retail Lab, the impact of self checkout, grocery delivery services, and reducing food waste.
  59. The quest for immortality through extreme fasting and radical life extension. Designing tech for the older crowd. Google's new streaming service aims to be Netflix for gaming. Your genome could be a privacy nightmare.
  60. The ethics of posting photos of strangers online. How social media data could be used to set your insurance rates. The Girl Scouts introduce a 'cybersecurity' badge. New research shows online habits of people in the developing world aren't that different from ours.
  61. From the so-called Momo Challenge to secret, illegal content exchanged in comments, YouTube is facing huge challenges in moderating its content. If we could redesign it, how could it be safer? Earlier this year, Facebook and Instagram announced they would remove or censor images of self-injury or self-harm. But some say that could harm those recovering and wanting to share their experiences. Artist Irene Posch has designed an embroidery 8 bit computer using historic patterns of gold embroidery and beads. In Silicon Valley years, you're considered old once you hit middle age. A luxury retreat centre in Mexico is a place for middle-aged participants to share their experiences dealing with ageism in the workplace.
  62. Algorithms that set the price of things online are becoming more common. But what happens if those price-setting algorithms get together? Collusion. Beer-makers around the world are now using machine learning to optimise beer recipes. New approaches to AI mean computers are getting much better at creating things that can trick us. Thanks to open source software anyone can create video and images of people that Do. Not. Exist. How do they do it, and what does this mean for our ability to tell what's real anymore?
  63. Chinese tech giant could be a 5G security threat: There's a push in Canada and internationally to upgrade our cellular networks to 5G. But there are also potential security concerns about the leading provider of that technology: Chinese tech giant, Huawei. Christopher Parsons is a research associate at The Citizen Lab at The University of Toronto. He talks to Spark host Nora Young about what could potentially go wrong, and what it shows us about security in a networked age. ---------- Protecting your personal data: In the past couple of years, we've seen high profile breaches of customer data, cyber espionage, and interference in the election process. All of which makes maintaining our privacy and security a personal issue of protecting our data, but also, a national and international concern. While at the recent Privacy and Security Conference in Victoria, BC, Spark host Nora Young spoke with Scott Jones, the head of the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security about his thoughts on the current state of cyber espionage. ---------- Robot reporters are on the job! Human NY Times reporter Jaclyn Peiser reports on how various journalism outlets are increasingly employing "robot reporters." Plus, AI expert Jerry Kaplan shares his analysis of whether automated tech is a threat to journalists' jobs. ---------- How an emoji can help destigmatize menstruation: Until now, there's never been a specific emoji to represent menstruation. Although Unicode's newly approved "drop of blood" emoji doesn't exclusively indicate periods, many health advocates are hailing this as an important digital step in destigmatizing menstruation. Carmen Barlow, the digital strategy and development manager at Plan International UK, explains why.
  64. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest woman ever elected to the US Congress, uses memes with panache, and is even teaching her fellow Democratic representatives how to properly use social media. So are memes now a serious part of the public discourse? Kenyatta Cheese, founder of the website KnowYourMeme and a blogger about internet media, tells Spark host Nora Young why he thinks memes are all grown up. ---------- Can AI be taught to mount a convincing argument ... with no time to prepare? IBM's Project Debate AI is focused on building a conversational artificial intelligence capable of engaging in continuous, stimulated debate. This week, it lost in a debate with Harish Natarajan, a World Universities Debating Championships Grand Finalist. Harish tells Spark host Nora Young what it was like to debate and defeat an artificial intelligence. ---------- Most algorithms we encounter evaluate risk in terms of making a decision, from giving you a loan to deciding where a spacecraft should land on the surface of Mars. But what about reward? A new robotic AI submersible designed to explore deep ocean trenches will consider destroying itself, if what it thinks it will find is worth it. Benjamin Ayton, one of its designers, explains how. ---------- Each year, fewer Canadian households report having landline telephones. Some countries, like Finland, plan to phase them out all together. Why do some of us still hang on to the ole landline? Spark contributor Denis Grignon brings us the story of his struggle to cut the cord. ---------- It's so easy just to use a digital map on your phone. Why bother with paper maps anymore? Author and journalism professor, Meredith Broussard, argues that paper maps facilitate "deep" knowledge, and are worth keeping in a digital age.
  65. This week on Spark, a special look at the mobile phone: no other technology has so dramatically changed the way people all over the world interact with each other. And it's all happened so fast-a lot of it within the lifetime of Spark as a show. We are looking back through 12 years of the cellphone as covered by Spark, from how phones affect our children and the way we parent, to the ever-present peril of notifications, to how to manage what has become, for many, a crippling addiction.
  66. A Duke University team, led by professor and Politifact founder Bill Adair, is developing a product that will allow television networks to offer real-time fact checks onscreen when a politician makes a questionable claim during a speech or debate. When's the last time you logged into your Blogger account? Or Wordpress? The overwhelming presence of social media, as well as essay-sharing platforms like Medium, have pretty much rendered the ol' personal weblog to the bin. But well-known Silicon Valley entrepreneur David Heinemeier Hansson thinks it's time blogs made a comeback-and he's leading by example. This month, he took his popular SignalvNoise blog back from Medium, and began publishing it independently. Remote-controlled quadcopter drones are just one of the many new technological tools that some ranchers have added to their operations. Over the last few years, a quiet technological revolution has been happening in the Canadian beef industry. Spark contributor Matt Meuse headed out to the mountains of southern Alberta to see firsthand how it's playing out. We're all different so why can't our office cubicles reflect our personality? A Toronto design firm, has created a flexible, pop-up workspace that can be reconfigured according to a person's workplace personality. Architect and SDI Design Creative Director Noam Hazan discusses how it works. Brian X. Chen shares his tips about tidying up your technology physically and digitally, Marie Kondo-style.
  67. A look at how more and more people are identifying as "digisexuals," a new term describing those whose primary sexual identity comes through the use of technology. Whether bright and modernist, or dark and brutalist, one problem all airport designers consider is the distance people have to go between the check-in counter and departure gate. A new feature, called Community Actions, lets users start, sign, and comment on petitions that are tagged with local government officials. With a spotty record on controlling political content, will Facebook manage to protect this feature from abuse? New limits on forwarding messages in WhatsApp is an attempt by the messaging app to control the sometimes dangerous spread of misinformation on the service.
  68. What Instagram's world record egg says about us: Chris Stokel-Walker says the success of the Instagram egg is a rare victory in a world where most viral campaigns on social media are now paid for. Adrienne Shaw is part of the team behind "The Rainbow Arcade," a first-of-its-kind exhibit on LGBTQ representation in videogame culture happening at Berlin's Schwules Museum. Might ignoring all your emails might be the secret to a happy 2019? André Spicer weighs the pros and cons of 'Inbox infinity' Did you ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes when you go to your favourite travel website and book a ticket on a plane? Taimur Abdaal does. And the data scientist and mathematician has unearthed a lot of interesting history about how a travel agent-real or virtual-makes it possible for you to get a seat on the correct flight, to the correct place, at the correct time, in a matter of seconds. AIs now make decisions about everything from jail sentences to job applications. But often they, or their creators, are unable or unwilling to explain just how a particular machine-learning decision is made. Sandra Wachter has a solution that doesn't involve opening the murky black box at the heart of many algorithms.
  69. Today's internet-connected smart home gadgets actually have a long history, going back way further than The Jetsons' space age dream home. Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino is an interaction designer specializing in the Internet of Things. In her new book, she traces the history of the do-it-all techy home back to the 19th century, and explores what it takes to make a smart home that really works for today. Say goodbye to NSFW Tumblr! The social network no longer allows adult content. But that's not sitting well with some Tumblr users who came to rely on the site as a safe place for self-expression. Stefanie Duguay is an assistant professor of Communications at Concordia University. She argues that Tumblr's new rules aren't just bad for NSFW bloggers and artists, they're also bad for LGBTQ youth.Sure it's annoying when you're taking a flight and you're not seated with your family. But what if it's...deliberate? Harry Brignull is a user-experience consultant with an interest in what he calls dark patterns. Those are user interface designs that are intended to trick people. He takes a look inside the algorithms that find your seat.E-scooters were supposed to make getting around more convenient and environmentally friendly. Recently scooter sharing companies like Bird and Lime are expanding quickly all across North America. So why are so many electric scooters are being tossed into lakes, rivers, and even the ocean? April Glaser is a technology writer for Slate. She wrote a story about the problem called Bird Bath.
  70. It's a new year and a new chance to get healthy. This week on Spark, a health tech show to help you out. How data-driven personalization is changing how people manage their own health. ----- We asked listeners about their experiences using tools that track health status. Holly Witteman is an associate professor in the department of family and emergency medicine at Laval University in Quebec City. She also has type 1 diabetes, and now uses a continuous glucose monitor.\ ----- With the growth in wearable technology, not to mention smartphone apps, it's easier than ever to count steps, monitor heart rate and more. But do all those scores really help us understand ourselves and our health? Bill Buxton, design thinker and Principal Researcher with Microsoft Research, argues that designers need to spend more time to help us learn to listen to our bodies, not just pump out stats. ----- Say goodbye to that bulky blood pressure cuff! Researcher Sheng Xu and his team have designed a flexible electronic patch, about the size of a postage stamp, that can measure blood pressure. It can potentially be used to easily monitor patients at risk of a heart attack. It also points to a future of non-invasive tools for continuous health monitoring. ----- Wearable sensors are for more than just tracking daily footsteps. They can help with monitoring early signs of medical conditions. Rosalind Picard, from MIT's Media Lab, works in affective computing: designing systems that can read human emotions. ----- Nutrition advice is often one-size-fits-all. But nutrigenetics, or nutrigenomics promises a more customized nutrition plan. Dylan Mackay is a nutritional biochemist at the University of Manitoba. Ahmed El-Sohemy is professor in nutritional sciences at University of Toronto, and the founder of Nutrigenomix which offers genetic testing for personal nutrition. We want to dig in on their research and differing views on this topic to help you make up your own mind.
  71. Ear Hustle is a podcast about daily life in San Quentin State Prison. The term ear hustle is prison slang for eavesdropping. Earlonne Woods, who was incarcerated for 21 years, is the co-producer and co-host along with Nigel Poor, an artist who volunteers. They discuss how the podcast builds bridges between the inside and the outside. We'll also hear about the future of Ear Hustle following Earlonne Woods' recent release from San Quentin. ---------- The Last Mile gives the men incarcerated in San Quentin State Prison business, tech startup, and entrepreneurial training. And in particular, teach them how the tech world functions. Today the program has expanded into other prisons and continues to help the participants break the cycle of incarceration. We look back at some Spark stories about the program and get an update from Aly Tamboura, one of the program's success stories, about life after his release from San Quentin.
  72. This week a look at some of the innovative approaches Canadian museums and galleries are taking to incorporate digital technology into their physical spaces. We explore the approaches of the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg. ---------- In a world of technological convergence can ethical innovation survive? That's not a trailer for a new sci-fi flick but rather one of the bigger questions Andrew Maynard explores in his new book Films from the Future: The Technology and Morality of SciFi Movies. The book explores technology through the lens of a dozen familiar and not so familiar science fiction films.
  73. On social media, finding out who exactly who is responsible for targeted ads for political causes, parties, or social movements isn't easy. Jeremy Merrill is one of the people behind Propublica's Political Ad Collector. Jeremy and his colleagues at Propublica have continued to monitor how political ads thrive on Facebook - who's behind them, and why regular users should care. ------ What do you think the greatest films of all time are? And how would you go about defending your choices? Traditionally, movies are ranked by by how well they did at the box office, and by how they were critically reviewed -- which leaves many influential films out. Now, Livio Bioglio, an Italian computer scientist has developed a new algorithm that yields some surprising results. ------ Cuneiform is the oldest known form of writing, and was used to tell the story of the rise and fall of Assyria and Babylonia some 5,000 years ago. And although half a million of the etched stone tablets have been unearthed, 90 percent of them remain untranslated. Émilie Pagé-Perron hopes to change that, by enlisting the aid of AI to look for patterns and reveal the stories the cuneiform texts tell. ------ Google's Street View has yielded a trove of information, from illicit activities to acts of great kindness. And it turns out the service is really good for an activity usually done offline: birding. Nick Lund, a writer for the National Audubon Society and creator of the website, The Birdist, explains his latest avian adventure: Google Street View Birding. ------ We've all gone through breakups. That's why Ridwan Madon, a student at the TISCH school for the arts, created Breakup Aid. It's a chatbot created to be a substitute for those who need a listening ear but think they may actually feel more comfortable talking to a chatbot about the trials of breaking up.