Spark

The Spark Guide To Life, Episode Seven: Mixed Emotions

How examining opposing views may entrench your own, IBM's AI debater, showing emotion on IG, and the importance of reclaiming boredom.

From Twitter polarization to the value of boredom

Should we be showing our emotions online? (Adam KIllick)
Listen to the full episode53:59

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.

Be it resolved that your next debating opponent may be ... beyond human! 

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.

It's okay to cry on Instagram

On Instagram, it can often seem like people are displaying an art directed, perfectly lit, ideal version of their lives. But now some see it as a place to reveal their full selves — tears, warts and all. Aimee Morrison, an associate professor of English and Literature at the University of Waterloo, talks about what she thinks is behind this trend.

Reclaiming boredom in digital culture

Boredom is, well, boring. But it plays an important role for us. Boredom can open us up to the question of meaning and other deeply philosophical perspectives. But today, we look for a way out of boredom by endlessly scrolling and swiping. In his new book, philosopher Mark Kingwell argues that we're in a political economy of "neoliberal boredom" fuelled by our digital devices.