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:

Episode 3.13 Gods & Monsters with Aaron Z. Lewis

We see superheroes on cinema screens –  but what about our technological superpowers? Naming these new powers helps to understand them, and the amazing Aaron Z. Lewis has given us a pantheon of seven ‘new gods‘ – that we seem to believe in. Now that we know the shape of these new ‘gods’, does that mean we’re not as beholden to them?

This was all sparked by Aaron’s original essay “Metaphors We Believe By: The pantheon of 2019” – it’s a great read, find it here.

Episode 3.09 The Future of the Web with Sean White

In thirty years the Web has grown into the foundation of civilisation – but can we make the Web more useful, more private – and more human? That’s a question that Sean White, Chief Research & Development Officer at browser-maker Mozilla continually considers. The answer is evolving.

Some of the answer lies with new Web technologies, like Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s Solid project. And plenty of the answer lies within ourselves, as our use of the Web evolves.

Episode 3.08 The History of the Future with Blake Harris

Virtual Reality roared back to life this decade due to the efforts of  visionary teenager Palmer Luckey. Luckey built Oculus, sold to Facebook for $3 billion – then got fired.

Blake Harris’ wonderful book The History of The Future: Oculus, Facebook and the Revolution That Swept Virtual Reality served as the foundation for this episode – a true life story of triumph and tragedy. It’s a rip roaring good read.  Grab a copy here.

Episode 3.06 Liminal Dreaming with Jennifer Dumpert

Humanity’s newest (and oldest) frontier lies at the boundary between waking & sleep – hypnagogia and hypnopompia – at the edges of consciousness, within ‘liminal’ dreams.

Jennifer Dumpert has written a book on liminal dreaming – read more about it (and buy a copy!) here.

Episode 3.05 Brave New Wars with John Robb

Social media has been weaponised and is now used against nations as a tool of war – invisible, subtle, and dangerously destabilising. John Robb has spent over a decade studying how these new networks represent the new powers – and the new engines of war.

Some of John’s best writing goes to his Patreon supporters

John writes the amazing Global Guerrillas blog – you should check it out.

John’s book Brave New War is quite good, too.

Mark and John, December 2018. (photo credit: Dan Lynch)

THE NEXT BILLION CARS Episode 4: The Next Billion Kilometers

Transformations in autonomy & electrification give automobile designers a new palette of possibilities – does our experience of driving change?

Drew Smith talks to BMW design legend Chris Bangle about what it took to design the REDSPACE urban car for the Chinese market. And here’s a video where he’s talking at the Art Center College for Design in Pasadena (Chris’s alma mater, and the school that graduates most of the world’s top car designers):

Mark and Sally sat down at the North American International Auto Show for a long interview with recently-retired Ford design legend Elizabeth Baron, about what it took to combine the real and virtual design processes into a seamless whole.

Elizabeth Baron, in the podcast suite at the Detroit Foundation Hotel, January 2019

Finally, Sally learns about the design possibilities created by autonomous vehicles from Luciano Nakamura, one of the founders of Australian startup AEV Robotics.

AEV Robotics rethinks design around urban use cases…

Episode 3.01 GETTING SINGULAR with Vernor Vinge

Over a billion seconds ago, sci-fi legend Vernor Vinge conceived of a “Technological Singularity”, when our machines outthink us. Should we worry?

Be sure to read Vernor’s 1993 paper, “The Coming Technological Singularity: How to Survive in the Post-Human Era” – it’s linked here.

Episode 2.09 Quantum Questions

In our world, you flip a coin and it comes up either heads or tails. But in the spooky quantum world – that’s everything from a single atom all the way up to a small virus – that coin can come up both heads _and_ tails, depending on how you read it. So which is it? Heads? Tails? Both? Neither?

Resonant Doubler
One of the experimental setups used to read qbits

Welcome to the strange world of quantum computing where this both-true-and-false ‘superposition’ allows quantum computers to vastly outperform their ‘classical’ peers (such as the one in your smartphone).

entangled qbits
A string of ‘entangled’ qbits

At least, that’s the theory.

Quantum computers are so unstable they tend to self-destruct before we can get them to run a program!

Claire Edmunds

Researchers Claire Edmunds and Virginia Frey from the University of Sydney’s Quantum Control Laboratory join us to explore this new quantum frontier: The deeper you go, the weirder it gets over the next billion seconds.

Or listen on iTunes

If quantum computing fascinates you as much as it fascinates me, you may find these resources interesting:

IBM scientists explains quantum computing at 5 different levels (video good for beginners to experts)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OWJCfOvochA

IBM Institute for Business Value Report on Quantum Cybersecurity – what happens after quantum computing breaks all the encryption we use on the Web to keep our information secure and private?

https://www-935.ibm.com/services/us/gbs/thoughtleadership/quantumsecurity/

Here’s a tutorial – in the very easy to learn Python programming language – that allows you to generate random numbers using a quantum computer.

http://dataespresso.com/en/2018/07/22/Tutorial-Generating-random-numbers-with-a-quantum-computer-Python/

And since you’re going to need a quantum computer to run this program, here’s the IBM Q Quantum Experience (5 qubit device available publicly on the cloud) – a REAL quantum computer you can run your own experiments on!

https://quantumexperience.ng.bluemix.net/qx/experience