Episode 2.06: Virtually Real with Tony Parisi

Like artificial intelligence, virtual reality is one of those twenty-year ‘overnight success’ stories. For longer than that, VR pioneer Tony Parisi has been probing the boundaries of computer graphics, interactivity and illusion to create the next generation of technologies that immerse us in experiences of new worlds.

Tony tells us why VR has finally come of age – and what’s coming next, as ‘augmented reality’ integrates ‘consensual hallucinations’ into our daily lives – influencing everything from entertainment to business to the design of our kitchens:

The show opens with a nod to Beyonce’s amazing performance at Coachella 2018 – which featured the largest livestream audience in history, nearly half a million viewers:

There’s a new technology – videogrammetry – that allows full performance capture in 3D. Videogrammetry was used to create a video by former Smashing Pumpkin’s frontman Billy Corigan, with amazing VR landscapes created by Tilt Brush virtuoso Danny Bitman (@DannyBittman on Twitter):

My own journey into VR began when a friend lent me his copy of issue #2 of MONDO 2000. The entire collection of MONDO 2000 is available on the Internet Archive, so here’s a link to the interview with Jaron Lanier that changed my life…

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Episode 2.05: The End of Utopia with Erik Davis

The ‘Next Big Thing’ always promises to be the cure for all our ails – but inevitably the high promises tarnish and all our best efforts fall back to earth. For as long as we’ve had technology, we’ve believed in its capacity to craft a perfect world – even though we ourselves are far from perfect.

Author and philosopher Erik Davis has spent twenty years dissecting our attitudes toward technology, utopia and belief – and writes about a future where we ‘wise up’ enough to understand the human value of our imperfections.

Here’s a bit of a taste of our wide-ranging conversation about faith, reason, utopia, and why we seem to make the same mistakes over and over again…

Erik hosts an amazing podcast – Expanding Minds – that you can listen to here. (I did an extended interview with Erik in early 2018, you can listen to that here.)

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Australian Podcast Award WINNERS!!!

Producer Alex Mitchell and I traveled to Melbourne on Saturday to attend the Australian Podcast Awards – because this podcast had been named one of six nominees in the Technology and Science category.

Although chuffed to be nominated, we had no reason to believe we’d win – the list of competitors was solid: 

In Collingwood’s Melba Spiegeltent, we settled in for a long night. Alex and PodcastOne MD Grant Tothill consoled me – there’ll always be next year, and besides, series 2 is better than series 1, so…

Then the presenter opened the envelope, and managed to say, “The Next…”, and Alex and I realised WE’D WON!

It’s absolutely true what they say – despite your best intentions you can’t remember anything when you accept an award you (secretly) very much wanted to win. Your mind goes blank.

By way of thanks we’ve created this special Web-and-socials only episode of The Next Billion Seconds as a thank you to all of you – our listeners.  You made this happen.

Thank you.

Episode 2.04: Five Billion Bankers with Andrew Davis

All the way back in 1994, Bill Gates quipped, “Banking is necessary – banks are not.” For billions of ‘unbanked’ in the developing world, banking happens through a smartphone app – no branches, no tellers, and no ATMs. How does a bank inspire trust – or trust its customers – when it’s all inside a smartphone?

Banking futurist Andrew Davis shares his vision of a future where banks protect privacy as well as your money, a world where everyone, everywhere becomes a banker.

Andrew Davis chats with Mark Pesce (photo: Dee Halwala)

Here’s a clip of Andrew talking about ‘open banking’ – the coming revolution where banking becomes about your data just as much as today it’s about your money:

One of the most interesting innovations in banking involves the analysis of mobile usage to measure the creditworthiness of an individual or business. This article from the World Bank explains how it works.

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Episode 2.03: The Future is Local with Jess Scully

For two and a half thousand years, cities and politicians have grown together. The city gives politicians a platform, a stage – and a demanding public. Always economic powerhouses, our cities also hold the key to an urban future where city-states like Singapore rise in prominence.

We talk to Sydney City Councillor Jess Scully about how best to grow a ‘world city’ like Sydney over the next billion seconds – and what it means to have a political career in a time when every citizen has social media to amplify their voice, their beliefs – and their anger.

The future is here – and it’s local. In this clip, Jess talks about the importance of Sydney to Australia’s economy:

In our interview, Jess mentions the DECODE Project – designed to give people rights over the data collected about them. Read about DECODE here.

The City of Sydney wants to increase the housing supply – and this article explains why that’s more difficult than it might appear. 

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We’re a finalist in the Australian Podcast Awards!

Earlier today we learned that The Next Billion Seconds is one of six finalists for Best Technology & Science Podcast in the Australian Podcast Awards!

We can not tell you how chuffed both host Mark Pesce (that’s me) and producer Alex Mitchell feel about this. It’s been a labour of love – and it’s wonderful to feel a bit of that love coming back.

More details as they develop. Until then, enjoy listening to one of the leading podcasts in Australia…

Episode 2.02: Power Tools with Ramez Naam

Solar power cost $100 per kilowatt hour when energy futurist Ramez Naam entered the world. Last year, the UAE signed a 20-year contract for solar power at a four thousandth the cost. For Ramez Naam it’s no longer a question of if renewables, it’s a matter of when: the data proves it. Energy has been mixed with politics from the beginning – so over the next billion seconds, how do we talk ourselves out of our coal culture and into a sustainable future? Ramez Naam makes a convincing case for a future where we profit from the sun.

Here’s an excerpt:

 

There are some amazing things happening in the renewable energy space, as shown in this chart about a typical week of energy generation in South Australia:

Ramez gives a lot of talks about energy futures, here’s a recent one given in South Africa – a nation with some energy problems…

Ramez has also written a series of blog posts on the energy future – the first is linked here

Finally, here’s that infamous photo of Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison, on the day they passed a lump of coal around in Parliament:

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Episode 2.01: Where the Truth Lies with John Allsopp

It’s growing increasingly difficult to know where the truth lies. We’ve gotten very good at our electronic fakery – from photoshop to ‘deepfakes’ to synthetic audio of Obama so accurate it’s indistinguishable from the real thing.

All of this feeds into a growing online community which instantly separates into tribes, then tunes out any competing with a cry of “fake news!”

Series Two of The Next Billion Seconds takes a look at the intersection of technology, truth and our future, beginning with frequent guest John Allsopp, revealed in the ways he teaches his children the spirit of inquiry, to help them discover where the truth lies.

Here’s a brief excerpt:

Here’s a few links to topics covered in our conversation:

Those famous faked photos of faeries from the early part of the 20th century.

Lawfare on ‘deepfakes’, security and privacy.

The Register on Human voice cloning.

Wikipedia on ‘Rough Music’… 

And that poor woman who got pilloried for a tasteless tweet

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Episode 1.14: Future Stories & Series Finales with John Allsopp, Genevieve Bell and Andy Polaine

We invite three series 1 guests to join Mark in studio for a final featuring a freewheeling conversation about myths, artificial intelligence, slaughterbots (!), and what happens when four billion people suddenly show up online.

Here’s a taste:

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Episode 1.13: Rise of the Robots with Ken Goldberg

Are the robots going to rise up in a “Singularity” that will first threaten our jobs, then our very existence? Dr. Ken Goldberg, Chair of the Robotics program at the University of California, Berkeley, tells us that while things are moving quickly, we’re moving into a world of ‘multiplicity’ – where multiple intelligences grow together to create a uniquely diverse world of human and machine minds.

Here’s a sample:

Ken wrote about the irrational fear of robots for the Wall Street Journal – you can read his piece here: The Robot-Human Alliance – WSJ

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