Spark 159 - October 23 & 26, 2011

On this episode of Spark: Programmers, Hybrids, and Cyborgs - oh my! Click below to listen to the whole show, or download the MP3 (runs 54:00).

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The Eyeborg Project

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Rob Spence is a documentary filmmaker. He's also a self-described cyborg. Yup, he's replaced his eye with a wireless video camera and made a documentary about it, Deus Ex: The Eyeborg Documentary which was launched in conjunction with a video game called Deus Ex: Human Revolution. In it, Rob looks at the current state of cybernetics, and asks how far off a Deus Ex-like future might be and about the line between treatment and augmentation. (Runs 8:03)

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Living in the Hybrid Age

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Ayesha Khanna is the director of the Hybrid Reality Institute, and she says we're starting to enter a new age - the "Hybrid Age" - which is characterized by pervasive computing, biotechnology, nanotechnology, and "the emergence of technologies as a social actor." That is, a time defined by our social interactions with the machines around us. (Runs 7:53)

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The Kids Are Alright

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We're about to hear a story about young people and the lack of interest in computer science as a field of study. Spark contributor Corey Takahashi shows us all is not lost, at least when it comes to a group of teens in Silicon Valley. They've developed and launched several successful apps that help parents, students and administrators to communicate key school information via smart phones. (Runs 5:13)

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Computer Class Cancelled

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There's been a sharp decline in the number of young people studying Computer Science. Mark Allemang is a professor at Sault College in Sault Ste Marie Ontario who has seen this decline first hand, as more and more courses are cancelled in community college. But why do so-called digital natives lack interest in pursuing careers in tech fields? David Ticoll is the executive director of the Canadian Coalition for Tomorrow's ICT Skills, and he thinks the key is in not limiting education in computers to a hard category of 'computer science', but in thinking of educating young people in hybrid skills. (Runs 10:00)

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Program or be Programmed

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Douglas Rushkoff's book Program or be Programmed argues kids should learn to code, not for their careers, but so they can understand the bias of digital technology. In fact, Douglas thinks we all could benefit from a little programming knowledge because at this point it is basic literacy. (Runs 13:21)

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