Spark 179 - April 22 & 25, 2012

On this episode of Spark: Meditation, Willpower, and the Algorithmic Economy. Click below to listen to the whole show, or download the MP3 (runs 54:00).

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The Algorithmic Economy

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We've talked a lot about algorithms on Spark - everything from the way they're used to curate our taste in music, to how they're used as HR screening devices for your resume. But what are the implications of this stunning fact - some experts say algorithms account for 70% of the US stock market trades. Kevin Slavin is a technology consultant who speaks about algorithms and their increasing control on our economy. (Runs 9:48)

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Meditating in a Digital Age

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The ancient techniques of mindfulness meditation seem diametrically opposed to our rush-rush, digitally distracted lives, but could digital technology be used to support that clarity and peace of mind? Rohan Gunatillake believes in 'disrupting the awareness industry' by combining today's tech sensibility with the practice of meditation. (Runs 6:02)

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Designer Organs

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Biophysics professor Andrew Pelling of the University of Ottawa is working to create designer organs that could communicate via Twitter. Now doesn't that sound like a Spark story? Science journalist and Spark contributor Sonya Buyting tells us more. (Runs 7:56)

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Shrinking Social Networks

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Everything online is social now, and when it comes to social networks, we're seeing a new crop that's more focused and intimate. Ben Lang and Nir Kouris are the creators of PeaceConnector which connects people from countries of conflict based on their shared interests. Stephen Sills is the creative director of the Student Life Network, a niche network that helps students connect with their direct student body. And Carmi Levy is an independent technology analyst author and journalist, who has thought a lot about the growth and future of niche social networks. (Runs 15:01)

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The Willpower Instinct

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In our digital world, many of us spend more time than we'd like playing video games, surfing the web, or multi-tasking ourselves to distraction, in spite of our best intentions. Perhaps we have a thing or two to learn about willpower. That's where Kelly McGonigal comes in. She's a health psychologist at Stanford University, and the author of the new book, The Willpower Instinct. Nora sat down with Kelly to talk goals, willpower, and the compulsions of digital tech. (Runs 8:40)

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