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Birth control pill's legacy coloured by coercion and oppression, says researcher
From family planning to sexual freedom, the birth control pill was groundbreaking when it first hit the market, but what many didn't expect was the far-reaching reverberations it would have over time, beyond pregnancy prevention.
Bots like ChatGPT aren't sentient. Why do we insist on making them seem like they are?
A look at the philosophical implications of interacting with tools that don't have consciousness, or even intelligence, but seem like they do.
The dangerous myth of neutrality in tech, and how to fix it
Data scientist and journalist Meredith Broussard discusses her new book, More Than a Glitch: Confronting Race, Gender, and Ability Bias in Tech.
From virtual care apps to AI algorithms: the trouble with data collection in healthcare
Tech is changing the way we collect health data. What does the explosion of virtual healthcare services mean for patient data privacy? And what role will data-driven AI play in the future of medicine?
Decentralized web movement imagines 'a web with many winners' that puts community first
Mai Ishikawa Sutton and Alicia Urquidi Díaz discuss the vision behind the movement known as DWeb, and how the decentralized web combines the community aspect of the '90s online experience with today's equity and accessibility principles.
Smartphones may be our greatest tool for outdoor and indoor navigation
Navigation technology has come a long way since the invention of the compass. And while outdoor wayfinding has been the focus of much research and innovation in this space, indoor positioning and navigation technology has also made inroads.
Can smart buildings offer sustainability without sacrificing privacy?
New developments promise to make networked homes that are easy and practical, and smart buildings that are sustainable. But can we get smart spaces that also protect our privacy?
Iranian government's digital control tactics are a sophisticated form of repression, says researcher
When a new technology comes along, it's easy to see its liberating potential. But as current protests in Iran show, those same digital tools for organizing and communicating, can also be used for surveillance and suppression.
Designing tech for the most vulnerable users leads to better products for all, says researcher
Consumer technology must be designed with the needs of its most vulnerable users in mind, says human rights researcher Afsaneh Rigot.
Since the 60s, countercultures have subverted mainstream tech to connect and build community
From the Whole Earth Catalogue to Facebook drag queens: a short history of online counterculture.
The history of lock picking can teach us a lot about better digital security
Security experts and historians discuss how the 6,000-year-old invention has evolved, shaping how we think about safety, protection and trespass in the physical and digital world.
Fascination is key to healthy urban living, says researcher
Cookie-cutter condos, glass business towers, minimal green space — there's clear evidence that many urban spaces have negative impacts on our mental health. But does it have to be that way?
These artists are exposing the dangers of AI and surveillance through art
From an AI-generated infinite conversation between thinkers to making art from easily obtained surveillance footage, artists are making the dystopia entertaining, at least
The future of tech: A Spark retrospective
The future is now! So where's my jetpack? Over the years, Spark has covered many tech developments and spoke with industry experts. So in this episode, we dig through the archives for a look at some of the more prescient conversations from the past decade.
Pandemic online shopping boom has generated bumper crop of vulnerable personal data, e-commerce experts warn
The pandemic has driven consumers online for everything from groceries to outdoor heaters. But e-commerce experts caution that online sellers are netting not just revenue, but a treasure trove of personal data, too.
From IRL to URL: The challenges of getting a small business online
Before the pandemic hit, Winnipeg jewelry maker C.J. Tennant wasn't using e-commerce at all. Like many small business owners across the country, she had to build an online retail space from scratch in order to stay competitive.
How the LED helped create a high-tech alternative to green screens
Nowadays, LEDs are found in our phones, TVs, lightbulbs and cars. But this technology is also revolutionizing film and television production.
Digital hour-logging is mandatory for truckers. Surveillance experts worry it won't stop there
Electronic logging devices will be enforced in January. They’re billed as a way to make roads safer by restricting truckers to their allowed hours of service, but raise questions about what information employers are collecting about their workers.
You can thank your old Sony Walkman for ushering in the era of portable entertainment
It may look like an antique by today's standards, but Sony's personal cassette player paved the way for the iPod and the subsequent ability to stream songs, TV shows and movies from our smartphones.
Tech solutionism, mutual aid and cooperatives: Finding tech fixes to complex societal issues
Big Tech aims to solve large social issues, from housing to urban transportation. There are also peer-to-peer solutions that aim to address precarity and inequality. How far can either of these approaches go, and where does government policy fit? And: with massive layoffs happening all over Silicon Valley, and the sale of Twitter throwing social media into chaos, is it time to rekindle the cooperatives movement in tech? With guests Paris Marx, Nathan Schneider and Greg Lindsay.
Social tech can be a lifeline and challenge to friendship, says researcher
The evolutionary biology of friendship and how digital tech has shaped our fundamental sense of togetherness.
Understanding the economic power and hype around AI
This week, we demystify artificial intelligence: what this technology can do, what we think it can do, and the implications of our understanding of this tech on how we apply it. And: is generative AI worth the hype?
Digital data has an environmental cost. Calling it 'the cloud' conceals that, researcher says
Routine online activities like sharing photos to social media, uploading files to shared drives, or streaming TV shows produce a lot of digital data. And as that data production soars, so does the energy demand for storing and processing it.
Rethinking energy storage technology as our need for battery power grows
Rechargeable batteries have revolutionized modern technology, powering up everything from smartphones to cars to snow blowers. So how can we meet the increased demand for the materials needed to build batteries, while keeping the environmental and human costs of resource extraction low?
How technology can help us better understand the natural world
From tiny robots that help lead honeybees to nectar sources, to bioacoustic tools that help ships avoid collisions with whales, digital technology is helping humans gain a deeper understanding of animals and plants. This week on Spark, we explore the tech that helps us understand the language of plants and animals, and how it may hold the key to protecting biodiversity.