Ideas for February 2018

Highlights this month include: An encore presentation of "The Ultimate Simplicity of Everything" (February 1) -- Physicist Neil Turok believes that the universe "invites" us to figure it out, by giving us clues about its composition. And when we follow its clues, we discover that it's ultimately quite simple; and "Imagining the Singularity" (February 8) -- Are we at the point where machine intelligence exceeds human intelligence. Could this be the dawn of a technological paradise? Or could it trigger an existential crisis for humanity?

Thursday, February 1
THE ULTIMATE SIMPLICITY OF EVERYTHING
Some physicists now claim that we may have reached the end of what physics can discover about the origins and structure of the universe. Neil Turok is definitely not one of them. Director of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics and former Massey Lecturer, Neil believes that the universe "invites" us to figure it out, by giving us clues about its composition. And when we follow its clues, we discover that it's ultimately quite simple. This episode is based on a public lecture and subsequent conversation with host, Paul Kennedy.


Friday, February 2
ARE WE F--CKED? Decoding the resistance to climate change
The evidence is everywhere: forests retreating, glaciers melting, sea levels rising. Droughts, floods, wildfires and storms have increased five-fold over the past 50 years. And we're only just beginning to feel the strain of climate change. It's estimated that rising sea levels will threaten 30 million people in Bangladesh alone. Miami could disappear within a generation. Despite all of these dire events and projections, the attacks continue — on climate scientists.  
 



Monday, February 5
THE ENRIGHT FILES
Our monthly Monday night feature with Michael Enright, host of The Sunday Edition, in conversation with some of the most original and influential thinkers of our time.


Tuesday, February 6
PLATFORM CAPITALISM, DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY AND THE FUTURE OF WORK
The biggest innovation in the world of work in the last decade has been the rise of online platforms which connect workers and customers. Uber and Airbnb are the most well known, but there are dozens of others. Upwork connects businesses with independent professional, TaskRabbit, handy and jiffy are platforms for various home services, Amazon Mechanical Turk is an online marketplace for small computer tasks called micro-tasks, and the list goes on. You can find everything from graphic designers to people who will walk your dog or assemble your Ikea furniture. These platforms have been well received by customers, but for workers, they often have a dark side. And they present a major challenge for governments grappling with how to regulate them. Contributor Jill Eisen looks at the digital revolution happening in our working lives. This episode is part 2 of a 3-part series. Part 3 airs Tuesday, February 13.


Wednesday, February 7
THE POVERTY CYCLE
With so much wealth in the world, why is there so much poverty? In the end, we're all better off when everyone has a chicken in the pot. Poverty slows the development of all societies, and it seems obvious that we should try to eradicate it, but it seems like an intractable problem. How can we put poverty behind us, and what does our attitude towards poverty and social mobility tell us about who we are? A discussion from the Stratford Festival.


Thursday, February 8
IMAGINING THE SINGULARITY
As computers and Artificial Intelligence grow in power and capability, it seems ever more likely that we're approaching "the Singularity": the point where machine intelligence exceeds human intelligence. Could this be the dawn of a technological paradise? Or could it trigger an existential crisis for humanity? What kind of an intelligence will this be: benign or terrifying, a guru or a god?  And is the idea of uploading the human mind the promise of immortality or just another dream of religious transcendence?


Friday, February 9
DECODING THE RESISTANCE TO CLIMATE CHANGE: Are we doomed?
Global warming is "Fake News", a "Chinese Hoax". So says a richly funded Conservative movement that's become a world-wide campaign. In her book, "The Merchants of Doubt", Harvard historian of science Naomi Oreskes traces how this propaganda war started and how to fight it. 
 



Monday, February 12
MASTER OF HIS OWN DESIGN: Conversations with Frank Gehry, Part 1
Canadian-born Frank Gehry has been called the greatest architect of our time. And yet he's still a rebel in his field. His sensual, sculptural buildings reject the cold minimalism and glass boxes of Modernism, and the ornate flourishes of post-modernism. Now 88, Gehry became famous in his late 60s, when his extraordinary design for the Guggenheim Museum became a reality twenty years ago in Bilbao, Spain. A complex and engaging man, who's been open about his disdain for the media, gave IDEAS producer Mary Lynk a rare chance to talk with him in California. This episode delves into his need to maintain humanity and emotions within his designs. Part 2 airs Monday, February 19.


Tuesday, February 13
LESS WORK AND MORE LEISURE: Utopian visions and the future of work
The future of work has become one huge, nerve-wracking question mark. Technology was once believed to be our deliverance. We'd be working shorter hours, and the only stress we'd have would be to figure out what to do with all our leisure time. But technology hasn't delivered on that promise. We're working longer hours, there are fewer jobs and and a lot less job security. In Part 3 of her series on the future of work, Jill Eisen looks at the promise of technology — and how it can lead to a better world.


Wednesday, February 14
THE AMOROUS HEART
We all know the heart symbol ❤ but it didn't always mean love. At times, it was just a decoration. At others, it meant spiritual, chaste love. At still others, romantic and carnal. Marilyn Yalom is a senior scholar at the Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University. She's also the author of The Amorous Heart: An Unconventional History of Love.  And in it, she traces the astonishing, centuries-long journey of how the symbol took on the meaning it has today.


Thursday, February 15
WHOSE LIVES MATTER?
Why does the colour of someone's skin seems to trigger prejudice? Why do black people get carded by the police more often than white? Why does Black history seem marginalised in the story of our country? The Black Lives Matter movement demands serious answers from our society to all of these questions about race, culture and prejudice. Janaya Khan, d'bi Young and Sandra Hudson in a discussion from the Stratford Festival.


Friday, February 16
YOUTH AND RECONCILIATION: The Next 150 Years
Gabrielle Scrimshaw
is 29-years-old and has an MBA from Stanford and is completing her Masters in Public Administration at Harvard. She grew up in a small community in rural Saskatchewan, the youngest of three daughters raised by her single father. Her journey from her home at age 17, to university in Toronto, to co-founding the Aboriginal Professional Association of Canada and to her dual degrees has informed her views on how Reconciliation can be meaningful for her generation. Gabrielle Scrimshaw was the keynote speaker at the third annual Vancouver Island University Indigenous Speaker Series this past November.  
 



Monday, February 19
MASTER OF HIS OWN DESIGN: Conversations with Frank Gehry, Part 2
Canadian-born Frank Gehry has been called the greatest architect of our time. And yet he's still a rebel in his field. His sensual, sculptural buildings reject the cold minimalism and glass boxes of Modernism, and the ornate flourishes of post-modernism. Gehry, now 88, became famous in his late 60s, when his extraordinary design for the Guggenheim Museum became a reality twenty years ago in Bilbao, Spain. A complex and engaging man, who's been open about his disdain for the media, gave IDEAS producer Mary Lynk a rare chance to talk with him in California. 


Tuesday, February 20 - Wednesday, February 21
THE ILLUSION OF MONEY, Part 1 & 2
We think we know what money is. We use it every day and our lives are unimaginable without it.  But look more closely and you find that coins and dollar bills aren't "real". They're promises, symbols, ideas.  And exactly what money is has evolved enormously over the ages. IDEAS contributor Anik See explores how we're rethinking one of the most basic features of human society. 


Thursday, February 22
THE SCOTTISH ENLIGHTENMENT, Part 2 
An Edinburgh bibliophile takes Paul Kennedy through his library of amazing books that were published in Scotland in the late 18th century, during the heyday of the Scottish Enlightenment. At the time, Adam Smith, David Hume, James Boswell and The Encyclopaedia Britannica were runaway best sellers. But obscure titles from a wide range of intellectual disciplines reveal the astounding diversity of Caledonian cogitation. If the Scots didn't actually invent the modern world, they certainly explored most of its many nooks and crannies, and wrote about it.


Friday, February 23
THE ANATOMY OF TYRANNY
Authoritarianism is on the rise around the world, with populations everywhere believing that the political status quo is broken and needs "stronger" leadership. Timothy Snyder wants to push this tendency back, maybe even into oblivion. A history professor at Yale University who's written widely on Europe and the Holocaust, he takes an unusual approach in his little book, On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century. It's not a sweeping historical analysis, but a collection of observations and suggestions on what forms resisting authoritarianism can take.  Some of them are simple, like reading more, or not repeating popular phrases, or simply believing in the truth. This episode features a lecture he gave in Toronto and a conversation with host Paul Kennedy.
 



Monday, February 26
ANALOG RESISTANCE
In the Soviet Union during the 1960s, young iconoclasts waged a musical battle against the banality of state-sanctioned culture. Subversive poet/musicians known as "Bards" were recorded at secret house concerts, and reel-to-reel audio tapes shared through a clandestine network. Simon Nakonechny unspools the little-known phenomenon of Magnitizdat, and ponders its parallels to forms of cultural dissidence in Russia today.


Tuesday, February 27
BLACK SURVEILLANCE: Canada's clandestine tracking of Black activists
Canada's history of sabotaging Black activism is coming to light like never before, thanks to researchers like PhD student Wendell Adjetey. Wendell's historical research uncovers evidence of clandestine government surveillance in the 20th century, while also bringing to life overlooked parts of this history. His work helps put in context the experiences of Canadian Black Lives Matter activists today.


Wednesday, February 28
GOOD CHEER IS A GREAT IDEA!   
Almost twenty years ago, Paul Kennedy produced an IDEAS documentary about Samuel de Champlain's L'Ordre de Bon Temps, which kept early French colonists in Port Royal, Nova Scotia alive through the brutal winter of 1606. He recently learned that a group of foodie friends in Ottawa has turned Champlain's historic meal into an annual celebration. Together they make a modest proposal to elevate this quintessentially Canadian event into a national winter holiday.

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