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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Episode 1.12: The Playful Century Ahead with Eric Zimmerman

While video games have only been around for about 40 years, games themselves are as old as humanity because we learn about the world by playing with it, finding the ‘wiggle room’ in every system – social or mechanical – that we encounter. Indy games pioneer and author Eric Zimmerman understands games and the culture of play so well he can tell us where it’s all going – and how we’ll get there.

Here’s a sample:

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Episode 1.11: Cryptocurrency with Mark Jeffrey

What is Bitcoin? How does it work? And why is the whole world going gaga for ‘magic internet money’? Mark Jeffrey – author of one of the first books on Bitcoin – explains how cryptocurrency happened, and why it’s about to change everything about money forever. Here’s a quick peek:

This one is – by far – our most downloaded episode to date.

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1.10: Original Sin (We Shouldn’t Have Made the Internet Free) with Robert Tercek

The decision to make the World Wide Web a free-to-all source of news had consequences no one expected, leading us down a path of advertising, analytics, targeting and profile auctions that leave us increasingly exposed to big data systems that know us better and better.

Here’s a video that presents an accurate picture of how all that works in practice – and be warned, it’s all a bit scary:

Robert Tercek has watched all of this develop – and, in his early days at MTV, helped it happen. Should we repent our ways? Can we? Here’s a clip:

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Episode 1.09: Three Days to (Alpha) GO

One of the the fun sides of doing a regular podcast is when a special event comes along, and taking the time to cover it in detail. In this case, it was an announcement from Google that their Alpha Go artificial intelligence program had taught itself how to be better than any human player – in 3 days.

Here’s how that looks:

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Episode 1.07: Smartphones from the start through iPhone 8 and X

The smartphone is quite possibly the most important tool we’ve developed in the last two hundred years – a steam engine for the human mind. We use them to transform commerce, human connection, and play. The latest iPhones – iPhone 8 and iPhone X – point to where we’re going, where the device becomes so essential, and so much a part of ourselves, that they can intimately scan our faces to unlock their secrets.

Here’s a sample:

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