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The Next Big Thing

In this summer series, Spark looks thirty years into the future to imagine what the next big thing could be in various areas of technology and design.

How malls and freeways helped segregate America

Freeways, suburbanization and malls were concepts sold as part of the American dream when they were introduced in the 1950s. Some architects and design critics say these innovations were actually vehicles of segregation that destroyed communities of colour and further separated them from white America.
NEXT BIG THING

From affordable childcare to school in the metaverse: What will childhood look like in 30 years?

Children no longer make a distinction between the virtual and the 'real' worlds, experts say. But that doesn't mean they still won't play with Lego in 2050.

Web3 reimagines the future of the internet

Web3 promises to give users more power over their data and digital identity. But what does it look like in practice, and can it succeed in democratizing our online lives?
Q&A

In the future, will you own your digital self? This futurist thinks so

How nascent digital tech and companies threaten to take away our ability to control our identity.
Q&A

Virtual you is just as real as physical you, says philosopher

In his new book, David Chalmers, a philosophy professor at New York University, explores the idea that virtual experiences are real experiences, and what that might mean for how we think about consciousness and our sense of self.
NEXT BIG THING

The way we eat is changing. Here's what you need to know about the future of food

The food on our plate might look —and taste— different thirty years from now, but new approaches promise to equitably and sustainably feed everyone on the planet.
Q&A

Jeanette Winterson envisions a post-material future in latest book of essays

The celebrated writer shares her vision of possible AI futures.

Canada's laws need updating to protect against abuse from surveillance tech, watchdog says

A look at the far future and nitty gritty present of artificial intelligence and what it might mean for how we relate to one another and the non-human entities that will —and increasingly do— surround us.

Thanks to machines, humans are trained to change the way we speak

On today's social media platforms, people speak in code to elude algorithmic censors, an example of how improvisation reshapes language.
NEXT BIG THING

With advances in medicine, could 80 become the new 40?

We all age. But the process of aging may be different in the year 2050 thanks to advances in medical tech.

How tech can help build a more sustainable fashion future

Our digital tech both facilitates and mitigates waste in the garment industry. But can the technology that ramped up global fashion production also help us build a more sustainable fashion future?

6 creative approaches to the climate crisis and a sustainable tech future

A retrospective look at Spark's long history of covering stories about creative solutions to the climate crisis.

Falling in love or falling for fraud: The dark side of online dating

Dating apps have opened doors for people looking to find intimacy across physical and digital divides — but they've also served as hosts for bad actors and scammers. 

Thousands of mental health apps aren't reaching the people who need it most

With demands on mental health care increasing, there's been a boom in mental health tech. But can technological fixes really address health care gaps?
NEXT BIG THING

How will we power the world sustainably in 2050?

New forms of green energy will help keep fossil fuels in the ground by mid-century, analysts predict.

Could understanding the evolution of cyberattacks better prepare us for the future of warfare?

A look at cyberwarfare and the implications of large scale cyber attacks at the domestic and international level.

In wake of pandemic, new online platforms promise to pay artists what they deserve

A new crop of 'creator first' platforms are helping musicians and other creatives connect with fans and monetize their talent, but can they really change the game for artists?
Q&A

'Great Resignation' or just greater expectations?

Digital HR strategist Ian Cook explains why he thinks the so-called 'Great Resignation' may be more about changing employee expectations than excessive quitting.

How TikTok's design helps turn ordinary people into villains

From Reddit to TikTok, a look at how the design of online spaces shapes how we behave, interact and learn from one another.
NEXT BIG THING

What will our sense of time and space be like in 30 years?

A look at how time and space, and how the widespread adoption of technologies like the metaverse might challenge some of our longest-held notions around the way our bodies and minds operate in the future.

Social media platforms 'benefit from the intersections of racism and capitalism'

From cultural appropriation to commodified trauma, Black creators and consumers of digital media are increasingly forced to confront a variety of unique challenges on social media platforms.

Weird pandemic dreams might be good for you, says researcher

Daniele Quercia has been analyzing people's 'weird' COVID-era dreams using natural language processing and machine learning.
Q&A

Why animals and smart machines can't measure up to human intelligence

In a new book, Paul Thagard looks at how animals and even the smartest machines fall far short of human capabilities.

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.

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