Spark 426: Memes grown up, Man vs AI debate, robot decisions, hanging on the landline, and the case for paper maps


Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest woman ever elected to the US Congress, uses memes with panache, and is even teaching her fellow Democratic representatives how to properly use social media. So are memes now a serious part of the public discourse? Kenyatta Cheese, founder of the website KnowYourMeme and a blogger about internet media, tells Spark host Nora Young why he thinks memes are all grown up. ---------- Can AI be taught to mount a convincing argument ... with no time to prepare? IBM's Project Debate AI is focused on building a conversational artificial intelligence capable of engaging in continuous, stimulated debate. This week, it lost in a debate with Harish Natarajan, a World Universities Debating Championships Grand Finalist. Harish tells Spark host Nora Young what it was like to debate and defeat an artificial intelligence. ---------- Most algorithms we encounter evaluate risk in terms of making a decision, from giving you a loan to deciding where a spacecraft should land on the surface of Mars. But what about reward? A new robotic AI submersible designed to explore deep ocean trenches will consider destroying itself, if what it thinks it will find is worth it. Benjamin Ayton, one of its designers, explains how. ---------- Each year, fewer Canadian households report having landline telephones. Some countries, like Finland, plan to phase them out all together. Why do some of us still hang on to the ole landline? Spark contributor Denis Grignon brings us the story of his struggle to cut the cord. ---------- It's so easy just to use a digital map on your phone. Why bother with paper maps anymore? Author and journalism professor, Meredith Broussard, argues that paper maps facilitate "deep" knowledge, and are worth keeping in a digital age.

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