Spark 157 - October 2 & 5, 2011

On this episode of Spark: Sensors, Predictors, Recognition Software - oh my! Click below to listen to the whole show, or download the MP3 (runs 54:00).

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Facial Recognition

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Recent advances in facial recognition technology are giving us the feeling of being much closer to a "Minority Report" reality. But how close are we really? Psychology professor Jennifer Steeves of York University explains how human beings recognize one another compared to facial recognition software. And Alessandro Acquisti from Carnegie Mellon University reveals some surprising research into how regular recognition tech can identify "anonymous" people. (Runs 22:38)

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Efficiency Is The New Power

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Ok, Moore's Law. It is... um... we'll let you read up on it on your own! We're interested in someone who proposes a modification of it. Jonathan Koomey is a consulting professor at Stanford University, and his research shows that it's not processing power that doubles every 18 months, it's energy efficiency. And in a world dominated by mobile devices and mobile batteries, efficiency may become the new power. (Runs 3:39)

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Predictable Us

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No two snowflakes are alike, no two people are the same... right? You may think you're unique, but it turns out you're awfully predictable. Jure Leskovec is an assistant professor of computer science at Stanford, and he analyses past human behaviour online to predict future outcomes. And he's discovered he can correctly predict who your next friends on Facebook will be. (Runs 9:57)

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Smart and Sensing Cities

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What happens when cities can monitor and respond to the people who live in them? There is no end to the Spark obsession with this question. Ayesha Khanna, director of the Hybrid Reality Institute, talks to Nora Young about the potential, and the challenges of smart cities, and what becomes possible when sensors are embedded everywhere. (Runs 12:20)

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