Spark from CBC RadioAuthor: CBC Radio
20 Feb 2019

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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    Spark 426: Memes grown up, Man vs AI debate, robot decisions, hanging on the landline, and the case for paper maps

    Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest woman ever elected to the US Congress, uses memes with panache, and is even teaching her fellow Democratic representatives how to properly use social media. So are memes now a serious part of the public discourse? Kenyatta Cheese, founder of the website KnowYourMeme and a blogger about internet media, tells Spark host Nora Young why he thinks memes are all grown up. ---------- 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. ---------- Most algorithms we encounter evaluate risk in terms of making a decision, from giving you a loan to deciding where a spacecraft should land on the surface of Mars. But what about reward? A new robotic AI submersible designed to explore deep ocean trenches will consider destroying itself, if what it thinks it will find is worth it. Benjamin Ayton, one of its designers, explains how. ---------- Each year, fewer Canadian households report having landline telephones. Some countries, like Finland, plan to phase them out all together. Why do some of us still hang on to the ole landline? Spark contributor Denis Grignon brings us the story of his struggle to cut the cord. ---------- It's so easy just to use a digital map on your phone. Why bother with paper maps anymore? Author and journalism professor, Meredith Broussard, argues that paper maps facilitate "deep" knowledge, and are worth keeping in a digital age.

  • Posted on 15 Feb 2019

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    Spark 425: The history of the future of cell phones

    This week on Spark, a special look at the mobile phone: no other technology has so dramatically changed the way people all over the world interact with each other. And it's all happened so fast-a lot of it within the lifetime of Spark as a show. We are looking back through 12 years of the cellphone as covered by Spark, from how phones affect our children and the way we parent, to the ever-present peril of notifications, to how to manage what has become, for many, a crippling addiction.

  • Posted on 07 Feb 2019

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    Spark 424: Pop-up office cubicles that reflect your personality, real-time political fact checking, blogging makes a comeback, cowboy drones and decluttering your digital life, 'Marie Kondo' style

    A Duke University team, led by professor and Politifact founder Bill Adair, is developing a product that will allow television networks to offer real-time fact checks onscreen when a politician makes a questionable claim during a speech or debate. When's the last time you logged into your Blogger account? Or Wordpress? The overwhelming presence of social media, as well as essay-sharing platforms like Medium, have pretty much rendered the ol' personal weblog to the bin. But well-known Silicon Valley entrepreneur David Heinemeier Hansson thinks it's time blogs made a comeback-and he's leading by example. This month, he took his popular SignalvNoise blog back from Medium, and began publishing it independently. Remote-controlled quadcopter drones are just one of the many new technological tools that some ranchers have added to their operations. Over the last few years, a quiet technological revolution has been happening in the Canadian beef industry. Spark contributor Matt Meuse headed out to the mountains of southern Alberta to see firsthand how it's playing out. We're all different so why can't our office cubicles reflect our personality? A Toronto design firm, has created a flexible, pop-up workspace that can be reconfigured according to a person's workplace personality. Architect and SDI Design Creative Director Noam Hazan discusses how it works. Brian X. Chen shares his tips about tidying up your technology physically and digitally, Marie Kondo-style.

  • Posted on 01 Feb 2019

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    Spark 423: Facebook petitions, WhatsApp and the spread of misinformation, designing the modern airport, and the lives of digisexuals.

    A look at how more and more people are identifying as "digisexuals," a new term describing those whose primary sexual identity comes through the use of technology. Whether bright and modernist, or dark and brutalist, one problem all airport designers consider is the distance people have to go between the check-in counter and departure gate. A new feature, called Community Actions, lets users start, sign, and comment on petitions that are tagged with local government officials. With a spotty record on controlling political content, will Facebook manage to protect this feature from abuse? New limits on forwarding messages in WhatsApp is an attempt by the messaging app to control the sometimes dangerous spread of misinformation on the service.

  • Posted on 25 Jan 2019

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    Spark 422: Instagram egg, queer video games, inbox infinity, airline ticketing, and counterfactual explantions

    What Instagram's world record egg says about us: Chris Stokel-Walker says the success of the Instagram egg is a rare victory in a world where most viral campaigns on social media are now paid for. Adrienne Shaw is part of the team behind "The Rainbow Arcade," a first-of-its-kind exhibit on LGBTQ representation in videogame culture happening at Berlin's Schwules Museum. Might ignoring all your emails might be the secret to a happy 2019? André Spicer weighs the pros and cons of 'Inbox infinity' Did you ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes when you go to your favourite travel website and book a ticket on a plane? Taimur Abdaal does. And the data scientist and mathematician has unearthed a lot of interesting history about how a travel agent-real or virtual-makes it possible for you to get a seat on the correct flight, to the correct place, at the correct time, in a matter of seconds. AIs now make decisions about everything from jail sentences to job applications. But often they, or their creators, are unable or unwilling to explain just how a particular machine-learning decision is made. Sandra Wachter has a solution that doesn't involve opening the murky black box at the heart of many algorithms.

  • Posted on 18 Jan 2019

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