Episode 4.01 – INFECTED BY BIG BROTHER

For a century, public health officials have contained pandemics by tracing outbreaks. COVIDsafe promises to do this – can we trust it?

How does contact tracking work? And did host Mark Pesce almost accidentally invent Bluetooth contact tracking during some experimenting back in 2005?

Dr. Genevieve Bell offers insights into the history of contact tracing – and how old ideas about sickness can be baked into the newest of our technologies.

Dr. Bell recently wrote a long and clear article on this topic for TECHNOLOGY REVIEW.

Toward the end of 2005, Mark Pesce did some ‘pinging’ of Bluetooth devices from his mobiles, and learned that a lot of other Bluetooth mobiles would answer his pings. He wrote it up in a paper:

The following year, working with artist John Tonkin, they created ‘Bluestates‘ – using Bluetooth contact tracking to generate ‘social graphs’ – maps of who associated with who – for ISEA 2006 in San Jose California. It got a fair bit of attention at the time, including a review in The New York Times. Here’s a short movie of how John Tonkin visualised the contact tracking data Mark Pesce gathered:

The First Million Downloads are the Hardest

After I received my monthly report from PodcastOne Australia, I did a bit of math and realised – sometime over the last 24 hours – I’d cross the one million download mark for THE NEXT BILLION SECONDS.

I can’t begin to express how chuffed (and shocked) I am by this.

THE NEXT BILLION SECONDS has always been a team effort – back in 2011, when it was just a book, Paul Bridgestock gave me excellent editing suggestions, and kept me encouraged.

In 2017, when my agent Phill McMartin approached me to pitch the newly franchised PodcastOne Australia, I had both something to refer to, and something to launch off from.

That’s when I got to meet Grant Tothill – who runs PodcastOne Australia – and started to work with my fantastic producer Alex Mitchell.

It took some time to figure out exactly what I was on about. I had energy, but very little direction in the first series. It was all over the map, precisely because there was so much territory to cover, so much of the future to explore.

In series two we settled down a bit, and dived into some of the deeper issues surrounding modern connected culture. It wasn’t as optimistic as I might like – and a few listeners did tell me that at times it was very rough going. Lesson learned: it’s not about hiding from the future, but neither is it about drowning in it.

The transition from show to channel includes many shows on future themes…

Last year I realised that I had the opportunity to turn a single program into a channel of programming: CRYPTONOMICS, THE NEXT BILLION GADGETS and THE NEXT BILLION CARS are the first examples of a ‘broadening’ of the kinds of shows you’ll find under the banner of THE NEXT BILLION SECONDS. Each are concerned with the future, but each also sees that future through its own filter.

There’s much more of that still to come.

It seems a bit surprising now that I had to pitch hard to get everyone onside for “1968: When the World Began”, the miniseries I got to create with my great friend Dr. Genevieve Bell. But they trusted us – and already that series sits very comfortably among the most downloaded episodes of THE NEXT BILLION SECONDS.

We’ve noted your interest – and there’ll be more where that came from.

Right now I’m learning how to coordinate and ‘show-run’ a podcast created on three different continents. THE NEXT BILLION CARS co-host Sally Dominguez lives in California, while special correspondent Drew Smith lives in Sweden. It takes a bit of coordinating (and FaceTime and clever mixing by Alex Mitchell) but somehow we’re managing to pull off a truly global view of the future of transportation.

And it feels as though all of this is just getting started. Podcasting is taking off, and the ability to create and share great stories at scale is growing with it.

That’s all because of you – because you keep listening and sharing and responding. Thank you for that.  

A million times thank you.

Mark Pesce
18 March 2019

The Next Billion Gadgets – HOME

From faucets you can speak with, to lawnmowers that drive themselves – artificial intelligence was everywhere at CES 2019.

Kohler Konnect integrates with Alexa, Google Assistant and HomeKit (Siri) – “pour a litre!”
Bosch showed off an autonomous lawnmower – but is it really AI?
Meanwhile, Dr. Genevieve Bell felt the charms of Sony’s Aibo…
Neutrogena uses the smartphone to scan and create a unique face mask.

Announcing “1968: When the World Began”

Mark Pesce & Dr. Genevieve Bell have co-written a four episode podcast series – “1968: When the World Began” – exploring transformations that completely rewrote the relationship between ourselves and our machines. 

On the 9th of December in 1968, Douglas Engelbart gave the ‘Mother of All Demos‘ – the most important hour in the history of computing, one that drew back the curtain on the world we all live in today.

Engelbart’s demo was the culmination of a wave of change that crested in 1968.

“1968: When the World Began” looks at the confluence of art, interactivity and intelligence augmentation that played out against the most chaotic year of the 20th century.

Episode One: THE PIVOT drops on Friday!

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:

Listen on iTunes.

Listen at PodcastOne.com.au

Episode 1.04: Tales of Autonomy with Genevieve Bell

When you give cows a voice, who listens? Connected lights and thermostats are great, but what happens when cows get connected and start milking themselves? What do we learn when we track our house cats when they’re not at home? How does the connected world reveal itself to us – and what are we learning from it? These questions – about autonomy, agency and authority – form the focus of anthropologist Genevieve Bell’s work, less for what they reveal about these animals than what they illuminate about ourselves. Are we listening to the connected world?

Here’s a taste:

Listen on iTunes

Listen on PodcastOne.com.au