Spark

 
 

Spark

Spark brings you the latest in technology and culture. With an eye on the future, host Nora Young guides you through this dynamic era of technology-led change, and connects your life to the big ideas changing our world right now.

Updated: Fridays
Download episodes from this podcast for: 6 months
Visit Show Site: http://www.cbc.ca/spark

All podcast episodes

Use the links below to download a file.

410: Music in your DNA, profiting off volunteer work, and the digital divide.

Music streaming giants are removing the curator and replacing it with data - and not just any data - your DNA. Spotify and Ancestry are teaming up to provide consumers with playlists curated by a users DNA and ethnic lineage. Deezer researchers used AI to curate playlists based on mood. But critics, like Toronto-based music journalists Eric Zaworski and Sajae Elder, think it might be kind of creepy and an invasion of privacy. ------------/////------------ When you ask Alexa a question, there's a good chance she gets the answer from Wikipedia, the volunteer-driven knowledge bank, which raises another question. Alexa, should Amazon be paying Wikipedia for that? Rachel Withers thinks so. ------------/////------------ Increasingly the digital divide is characterized by the inability to maintain access to smartphones, laptops and other technologies. Amy Gonzales is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication at UC Santa Barbara. She discusses the difficulties of keeping devices connected and the inequalities that can create. ------------/////------------ Smartphones can offer life-changing accessibility for people who are blind but many people with sight loss still don't own one. Phone It Forward takes donated smartphones, refurbishes them and loads them with accessible apps to give to people with vision loss who need them. ------------/////------------ We used to talk about the digital divide as a sort of 'yes or no' issue. Is there broadband in your area or not? But the reality of internet access in Canada is more nuanced than that, and digital inequality has real consequences for individuals, for whole communities, and the overall Canadian economy. Researcher Nisa Malli talks to Nora about where we're at and how to improve.

Download 410: Music in your DNA, profiting off volunteer work, and the digital divide.
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409: AI and creativity, climate change and Fortnite, and a Twitter bot that curates FOI requests.

Ross Goodwin took an AI on a trip from New York to New Orleans. Along the way the AI used inputs from a camera, a clock, a GPS, and a microphone to make "observations" and write about the trip. The book and project is called 1 the Road and it's inspired by beat generation author Jack Kerouac's famous book On the Road. ---------- Montreal artist Adam Basanta's All We'd Ever Need is One Another works by getting a computer to randomly generate abstract images. A second computer compares the work to a database of human art. If it finds a close match, it names the computer-generated work after the human art. Cue the lawsuit for copyright and trademark infringement. Jeremy de Beer, who specializes in law and innovation, weighs in on what a case like this could mean for the idea intellectual property. ---------- Fortnite, is the most popular streaming game in history. More people watch gamers play Fortnite on the Twitch streaming service than watch NFL football. That gave oceanographer Henri Drake an idea. He created "ClimateFortnite," in which he and other climate scientists play the game and also answer questions about climate change using the in-game chat. ---------- Could this trojan-horse style of education in a gaming environment be an effective way to teach and reach people? MIT qualitative sociologist T.L. Taylor, who has focused on internet and game studies for over two decades, explains the interrelations between culture and technology in online leisure environments. ---------- Laurent Bastien is a Canadian journalist who's doing researchers a favour. His Twitter account shares nothing but cryptic links to Freedom of Information requests. The point is to avoid doubling-up on information requests by creating access to requests that have already been processed but have not been publicly released by the government.

Download 409: AI and creativity, climate change and Fortnite, and a Twitter bot that curates FOI requests.
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408: An that sees for you, tech and nature, and more.

Saqib Shaikh is a software engineer at Microsoft. He has also been blind since this age of seven, and has long dreamed of technology that could describe the world around him in real time. And now, he's made it. He explains how the Seeing AI voice assistant app describes the world around him. ----------What does a city have to do with obesity? New AI uses satellite imagery and Google Street View to show how urban design and obesity in US cities are related-without looking at a single person. Elaine Nsoesie, one of the researchers who designed the algorithm, explains how.----------Water is something that most of us take for granted. But the city of El Paso, Texas, is one of the most arid places on the planet-and water is a precious commodity. So Ed Archuleta designed a system to recycle most of the city's water-even sewage. And he says it's a protocol that many more cities are going to have to adopt as climate changes. ----------What started off as a school project became one of the world's most popular nature app - with a new observation recorded every 45 seconds. iNaturalist helps anyone identify plants and animals. Scott Loarie, the Co-Director of iNaturalist, discusses how iNaturalist combines the power of citizen science and big data. ----------Photographs can be more than just memories. The University of Victoria's Mountain Legacy Project holds the world's largest collection of current and historical mountain photos. And they return to those sites in the Canadian Rockies to retake those photos to track how the mountains are changing. Journalist Meg Wilcox joined the team as they photographed vistas that were first captured over a century ago.

Download 408: An that sees for you, tech and nature, and more.
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407: Trusting our virtual assistants, and opinions on Twitter

Our virtual assistants aren't ready to give advice Do you talk to your smart speaker? Heather Suzanne Woods is an assistant professor of rhetoric and technology at Kansas State University. She's studied how humans use language to make sense of technological change and why people seem to have a relationship with their devices. Move over Dr. Google, Dr. Siri will see you now. People are getting used to using conversational agents like Amazon Alexa around the house. But what happens when people get medical advice from Siri or Alexa? Timothy Bickmore is a professor of Computer and Information Science at Northeastern University. He's been studying how conversational agents respond to medical questions. A new opinion in the social media echo chamber could close it even tighter Disrupting our social media echo chambers with an opposing view may seem like the best way to reduce political polarization. But sociologist Christopher Bail from Duke University found it can actually entrench people's views and opinions even more. What if you could see a filter bubble on social media? Imagine if you could visualize what political polarization looks like on Twitter?based on when influential accounts tweet about politics, how often, and who they follow. Camille Francois and John Kelly have done just that. They work for Graphika, a social media intelligence firm.

Download 407: Trusting our virtual assistants, and opinions on Twitter
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406: Technology and Policing Special

This week on Spark we're devoting the entire episode to some of the technologies used by law enforcement. Some of the benefits of these tools and how they can improve police work, and also some of their limitations and the issues they raise. Josh Mitchell is a consultant with the security firm, Nuix. He tested five body cameras from five different companies and found that all of those cameras were vulnerable to hacking. Some of those vulnerabilities could allow a hacker to do location tracking, spread malware, download footage, and modify and re-upload that footage remotely. For many, Body Cams on police are one answer to police accountability. But while you'd think recording a police-civilian incident would make what happened clear, there are other issues at play. In July, a U.S. federal judge ruled that NYC officers wearing body cameras are required to turn their cams on for what's called "low level encounters". Darius Charney is a lawyer at the Centre for Constitutional Rights in New York. RideAlong is a mobile app that provides police and first responders with information on the individuals who frequently use emergency services to help them de-escalate the situation and keep everyone safe. Technology has revolutionized police work. But what are the ethical guidelines of using tools like AI and big data for law enforcement? Can it lead to over policing? Ryan Prox is the Senior Constable in Charge of the Crime Analytics Advisory & Development Unit at the Vancouver Police Department. The Toronto Police Service is planning to implement an American technology called ShotSpotter that can pinpoint when and where a gun was fired. More than 90 cities in the U.S. use the technology. Rob Maher is a "forensic audiologist". He has extensively studied methods to detect and analyze acoustic gun signals. Saadia Muzaffar is a Toronto tech-entrepreneur and the co-founder of Tech Reset Canada. She has some concerns about ShotSpotter including privacy and the neighbourhoods that will be monitored.

Download 406: Technology and Policing Special
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405: 'Ear Hustle' brings life inside -- to the outside

Ear Hustle is a podcast about daily life in San Quentin prison. The term ear hustle is prison slang for eavesdropping. Earlonne Woods is incarcerated in San Quentin and is the co-producer and co-host along with Nigel Poor, an artist who volunteers. They discuss how the podcast, made entirely inside the walls of the prison, builds bridges between the inside and the outside. Everyday seems to bring a new data breach. In his new book, Click Here To Kill Everybody famed cybersecurity expert, Bruce Schneier, says we ain't seen nothing yet. Security challenges are exploding in our hyper-connected era. Schneier explains why, and what we should do about it. Do you remember a time when there were no notifications? Today, most of us are buried in an avalanche of beeps, whistles and pings -which we probably try to ignore. Hence the rise of "anti-notifications", which tell us what we're missing out on. UX designer and writer Adrian Zumbrunnen explains why.

Download 405: 'Ear Hustle' brings life inside -- to the outside
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404: Ride sharing was supposed to make traffic better. It's making it worse.

Besides making it super-easy to get a ride somewhere, one of the great promises of ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft was that they would reduce congestion on city streets. Unfortunately, the opposite has happened-and dramatically so. Also, the value of video-game emulators, the call for ethical computer engineering standards, and a new app that aims to use AI to help improve parenting.

Download 404: Ride sharing was supposed to make traffic better. It's making it worse.
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Spark Guide to Life: Google for Education Encore

On this special episode of Spark, we're looking at how Google for Education is being used in by students and teachers across Canada.

Download Spark Guide to Life: Google for Education Encore
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Spark Guide to Life: Big Picture Ideas

Reimagining the university for the 21st century. The future of trades in a changing world. Mapping the sounds of protest. How machines, platforms and the crowd are rearranging the world.

Download Spark Guide to Life: Big Picture Ideas
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Spark Guide to Life: Jobs Jobs Jobs

Time to get rid of the job interview. What romance writers can teach us about the digital economy.

Download Spark Guide to Life: Jobs Jobs Jobs
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Spark Guide to Life: Being a Better Human in A Digital World

We need a survival guide for thinking because we're bad at it. What Confucius, The Buddha, and Aristotle can teach us about technology. Online is the loneliest number.

Download Spark Guide to Life: Being a Better Human in A Digital World
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Spark Guide to Life: Libraries and Museums

New technology allows Holocaust survivors to answer the questions of future generations. Breaking down the walls of the traditional museum. When it comes to books, size matters. Modern libraries innovate to better serve their communities.

Download Spark Guide to Life: Libraries and Museums
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Spark Guide to Life: AI and our Freaky Future

Blade Runner and what it means to be human in the age of AI. AI's problem with disability and diversity. Exercise app shows why anonymous data can still be dangerous. Optical illusions for computers. Google's fun 'match your selfie with art' app points to the scary future of facial recognition.

Download Spark Guide to Life: AI and our Freaky Future
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Spark Guide to Life: Getting Better at Your Online Life

Want to look at this guy's website? Go offline. Would you let a robot answer your emails? Notifications stress me out. How I cut them down to improve my well-being. 'Loudly Crying Face': Your cute emojis are spoiling social media for blind users. Is podcast listening good for you?

Download Spark Guide to Life: Getting Better at Your Online Life
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Spark Guide to Life: Protecting Yourself in the Digital World

Your photos can be used in 'catfishing' romance scams. The real cost of our love of tech: the environment. Do you really "own" your smart devices? When moral outrage goes viral.

Download Spark Guide to Life: Protecting Yourself in the Digital World
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Spark Guide to Life: Social Media

If you're worried your social life is less exciting than others', it's not. Twitter isn't the voice of the people, and media shouldn't pretend it is. Your data plays a vital role in academic research. Social media beyond the numbers. How does your social media use stack up against other Canadians?

Download Spark Guide to Life: Social Media
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Spark Guide to Life: Canadian Perspectives

Die With Me connects people before their phones die. Never mind Netflix, watch this live stream of a rock instead. Short story vending machine lands in Edmonton airport. Restaurants open doors during the day to become coworking spaces.

Download Spark Guide to Life: Canadian Perspectives
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403: The wave of media mergers signals a major shift in the TV landscape

Wave of media mergers signals major shift in TV landscape. Turning citizen science into a captivating video game. How you use your phone can tell Uber if you're drunk. Being a social media manager can be bad for mental health. How internet access to porn is helping women and sexual minorities in India.

Download 403: The wave of media mergers signals a major shift in the TV landscape
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402: Is there room for philosophy in tech?

What Confucius, The Buddha, and Aristotle can teach us about technology. From Bible apps to kosher phones, how digital tech is changing religion. What happens to your digital legacy when you die? Why some people are planning on sending their ashes into space.

Download 402: Is there room for philosophy in tech?
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401: As Google for Education tools enter classrooms across Canada, some parents are asking to opt-out

On this special episode of Spark, we're looking at how Google for Education is being used in by students and teachers across Canada.

Download 401: As Google for Education tools enter classrooms across Canada, some parents are asking to opt-out
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400: From QR codes to Facebook's early days

Looking back at the stories Spark has covered over 400 episodes. FBI warns of malware on routers. Designing new rituals. Liberating our attention.

Download 400: From QR codes to Facebook's early days
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399: Monopolies have been broken up before. Is it time to do the same with Facebook?

Do giant tech companies like Facebook need to be broken up? Why mission statements actually matter. Vast majority of twitter users retweet rumours without question. Why the "information age" is now the "reputation age". Science weighs in on how to end a sentence. The surprising carbon footprint of a Google search.

Download 399: Monopolies have been broken up before. Is it time to do the same with Facebook?
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398: It's getting harder to tell the difference between Google's AI and a real human... and that's a problem

Why AI needs to identify itself. CGI celebrities are courting followers—and controversy. Breaking down the walls of the traditional museum. New technology allows Holocaust survivors to answer the questions of future generations.

Download 398: It's getting harder to tell the difference between Google's AI and a real human... and that's a problem
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397: How Europe's tough new data protection rules affect Canadians

An FAQ on the GDPR. Putting down your phone could make you less bored. Wearable tech that puts self-expression first. The end of passwords. Millennials are really into online astrology.

Download 397: How Europe's tough new data protection rules affect Canadians
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396: New book exposes "technochauvinism"

"Artificial Unintelligence" argues that new tech doesn't always mean good tech. 'Golden State Killer' arrest highlights the risks of public DNA databases. Workers in the developing world screen graphic content for Facebook and Google.

Download 396: New book exposes "technochauvinism"
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395: "Skyknit" AI creates its own hilarious knitting patterns

An AI learning to knit. Cryptocurrency for kids. Bots fighting traffic tickets. Doc directors make AI.

Download 395: "Skyknit" AI creates its own hilarious knitting patterns
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