Episode 2.07: The Last Days of Reality (Part One)

 

Why is it so hard to tear ourselves away from Facebook’s feed? What is it feeding us that makes it so addictive?

The power of artificial intelligence combined with the eternal surveillance of the smartphone made a monster out of Zuck’s social network – but has it divided us more than it united us? How are people using this social network to spread fake news? How is fake news being weaponised to change the way we vote?  

All of these questions – and much more – are answered in our special two-part episode, “The Last Days of Reality”.

Part one tells the tale of how we ended up where we are – addicted to Facebook and in the thrall of shadowy firms like Cambridge Analytica. Here’s a taste:

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And because this isn’t fake news, here’s the links to the stories referenced in the episode:

Buzzfeed reports on Macedonian content farms
 
https://www.buzzfeed.com/craigsilverman/how-macedonia-became-a-global-hub-for-pro-trump-misinfo

Facebook exploits ‘insecure’ to sell ads, Darren Davidson, The Australian 1 May 2017
 
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/media/digital/facebook-targets-insecure-young-people-to-sell-ads/news-story/a89949ad016eee7d7a61c3c30c909fa6
 
https://www.forbes.com/sites/paularmstrongtech/2017/05/01/facebook-is-helping-brands-target-teens-who-feel-worthless/

Facebook’s formula for winning with AI
 
https://www.fastcompany.com/3060570/facebooks-formula-for-winning-at-ai

Experiment shows how to talk women into lower maths scores
 
http://science.sciencemag.org/content/314/5798/435
 
May 2017 Observer exposé on links between Cambridge Analytica and Brexit
 
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/may/07/the-great-british-brexit-robbery-hijacked-democracy

Cambridge Analytica becomes Emerdata

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/05/02/cambridge_analytica_shutdown/

Jimmy Wales founds WikiTRIBUNE

https://www.wired.co.uk/article/jimmy-wales-wikitribune

And, finally, a link to WikiTRIBUNE

https://www.wikitribune.com/

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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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 1.09: 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 1.01: Artificial Intelligence & Self-Driving Cars with John Allsopp

Back in 2000, John Allsopp wrote A Dao of Web Design, about how we should think about the Web, its design, and its utility to us. Almost twenty years later we launch The Next Billion Seconds with a conversation about where the Web is going – and where it’s taking us.

Our conversation included a discussion about autonomous ‘self-driving’ cars – and will John’s four daughters learn to drive?

The answer seems to be in flux; in March 2018 a pedestrian was hit and killed by an autonomous vehicle, an accident that might set things back for years. I spoke with The Project about that sad event – watch the video here.

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