Spark from CBC RadioAuthor: CBC Radio
14 Nov 2018

Spark from CBC Radio

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Spark on CBC Radio One Nora Young helps you navigate your digital life by connecting you to fresh ideas in surprising ways.

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    413: The future of car ownership, a piano for everyone, and the decline of internet freedom

    Human-rights organization Freedom House releases their annual Freedom on the Net report. Research Director Adrian Shahbaz explains how fake news, repeals of net neutrality, and reduced privacy protection have weakened the openness of the web -- especially in the United States. ---------- Chris Donahue studies machine learning and music at the University of California in San Diego. He started playing piano when he was a three years old and these days he wanted to find a way to marry his interests in music and computer science. He created Piano Genie, an AI musical tool he describes as the opposite of Guitar Hero. ---------- Even with everything from car subscriptions to scooter sharing, it seems like we're still stuck in traffic. Gabe Klein once headed up the transportation commissions of Chicago & Washington D.C. and was the VP of Zipcar. He believes our relationship with the car has to change - and that technology may be the driving force to change it. ---------- ShiftRide wants to enable people in need of a car for a short trip to essentially rent one from someone in their neighbourhood. Car owners can put an under-utilized vehicles and users without a car can get access to one. Founder and CEO Nima Tahami discusses what he calls on demand mobility. ---------- Innisfil, Ontario's transit and ride sharing partnership with Uber made headlines when it first began. A year and half later we check in with mayor-elect and former deputy mayor Lynn Dollin to find out how the collaboration is working for Innisfil and why she thinks it's good for her town.

  • Posted on 09 Nov 2018

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    412: Digital redlining, election security, internet controlled humans, and more.

    Digital redlining is when seemingly neutral algorithms inadvertently make decisions that lead to discrimination. Chris Gilliard teaches at Macomb Community College in Dearborn Michigan. He's studied digital redlining and uses it as a powerful metaphor to talk about the way class divisions and racial discrimination can be fostered by algorithmic decision making. ---------- It was a Hallowe'en-worthy experiment. On Halloween night Researchers at MIT let the internet and its users "control" an actor as he played an online game. How well can a hive mind work? Researcher Niccolo Pescatelli explains. ---------- How vulnerable are electronic voting machines? Well J. Alex Halderman once hacked into one in front of U.S. Congress to demonstrate their vulnerabilities. He's a cyber security expert and professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Michigan. He discusses how these voting security issues may be putting democracy at risk. ---------- Agbogbloshie, an area in Accra, Ghana. Every year, 250,000 tons of old phones, computers, and appliances are illegally brought here. About 6,000 people, including many children, live and work here. It's a polluted, blighted place. But it's also a place of community and culture. Florian Weigensamer is one of the filmmakers behind the documentary, Welcome to Sodom, which tells the stories of Agbogbloshie.

  • Posted on 02 Nov 2018

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    411: Instagram is becoming an advertising giant, the responsibilities of platforms, and 25 years of Wired magazine.

    This fall saw the quiet departure of the co-creators of Instagram from the Facebook owned company. That's caused some to speculate that it may have something to do with the move towards more advertising. Over the last year more sponsored ads are showing up on Instagram which may not be what the founders were going for when they created the platform. Tech journalist and entrepreneur, Takara Small explains what this shift on Instagram means for the average consumer. ---------- Instagram has gone from pictures of people's food, to influencers encouraging you to drink special tea. Until now, the position of those influencers was held by people like the Kardashians with tens of millions of followers. Now, regular students with just a few thousand followers, like Jade White and Azita Peters, are advertising for brands on their own accounts. Donna Wertalik, Director of Marketing for the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech, weighs in on the trend. ---------- Following Facebook's most recent data breach, many have suggested that tech giants like social media platforms should be regulated as 'information fiduciaries' and act in the best interests of their users. Jonathan Zittrain, Director of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, discusses what that would look like for platforms like Facebook. -----------In 1993, a new magazine launched with Canadian Marshall McLuhan as its "patron saint." Now Wired magazine is celebrating its 25th birthday as one of the world's leading technology and design journals. Clive Thompson, a Canadian who has been writing for Wired for many of those 25 years, joins Nora to talk about how the tech times have changed.

  • Posted on 26 Oct 2018

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    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.

  • Posted on 19 Oct 2018

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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.

  • Posted on 12 Oct 2018

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