The Freqonomics podcast explores “the hidden side of everything.” This particular episode does a masterful job of charting the Internet’s trajectory from its inception (and before) to the present. Without being overly technical, it outlines some key trends that may threaten the original vision of the net as an open communication platform for everybody—and may also have profound impact on our greater society.
We generally think about digital technology as something that’s outside of us. I think there’s a clear boundary between me and my technology. But that boundary is getting fuzzier all the time. In this fascinating talk to the Long Now Foundation, science fiction writer Ramez Naam makes a compelling case that the boundary is about to disappear forever. He discusses cutting edge research in many related fields and the ethical implications of that research as it finds its way into our products and our bodies.
The Long Now Foundation hosts an excellent series monthly talks related to its important mission of helping us see the long view; this is part of that ongoing series. While you’re on their site, take some time to look for other gems.
Shaming and bullying existed long before the Internet age. But social networks have the power to magnify the negative impact of those activities, sometimes wrecking the lives of innocent people in the process. In this fascinating TED talk, Jon Ronson graphically illustrates this phenomenon with a true story and talks about what we need to do to minimize the consequences of Internet shaming.
[iframe id=”https://embed-ssl.ted.com/talks/jon_ronson_what_happens_when_online_shaming_spirals_out_of_control.html” align=”center” mode=”normal” autoplay=”yes” aspect_ratio=”4:3″ maxwidth=”720″]
This is a big question with a multitude of answers. NPR’s new program/podcast Invisibilia answers with three stories. The first one looks at the big picture with questions about artificial intelligence, wearable computers, and the possibilities for human/computer co-evolution. The other two stories look at specific, personal, right-now examples of human character changes as a result of digital technology.
For decades researchers have experimented with machine learning—software that can improve with experience without being reprogrammed. That research has paid off in a number of applications, including the intelligent search engines that we use every day. But recent breakthroughs in a field called deep learning are likely to bring radical transformations to our lives very soon. This TED Talk by Jeremy Howard explains the technology and touches on a few applications and implications. Spoiler: there’s good news and bad news….
[ted id=2155 lang=en]
Every new technology brings controversy. This short video poetically confronts one of the most important questions of our digital age: If we’re always connected through our devices, will we lose more important connections with other humans?
Millions of people have viewed it online. Do you think it will make a difference in how they view their technological tools?
Edward Snowden made a decision that changed the world. By leaking top secret government documents to the press, he revealed that US surveillance of private and public citizins goes far beyond what most of us had previously imagined. Because of those leaks, people all around the world are asking important questions about the balance between privacy and security in a free society. In a chilling statement to the BBC, Snowden claimed that he’d accomplished his mission by raising those questions. What do you think?
Patents have been part of American life since the country was born—they were written into the constitution to legally protect and encourage innovation, creativity, and productivity. But today, patents are used by shadowy companies that make nothing more than profits—and the threat of lawsuits from these companies is enough to keep people from creating high-tech products, companies, and jobs. This episode of This American Life shines a bright light on the broken intellectual property legal system by telling the stories of people whose lives have been profoundly impacted by that system.
Did you ever wonder who gets your money when you go shopping? You may, without knowing it, be donating your hard-earned cash to people and corporations who use it to fund campaigns that go against your beliefs and values. This Forbes article describes Buycott, a smart phone app that can instantly reveal the secret origins of the items in your shopping cart. Whether you’re concerned about a cleaner environment or a more equitable society or something else, technology can help you vote with your wallet every time you shop.