Episodes
Surveillance has become mainstream in the 21st century. It’s now so ubiquitous that many of us no longer notice its intrusion in our personal lives. But not all forms of monitoring are designed to exploit and/or contain. In this episode we look at several interesting monitoring technologies designed to assist and heal.
Published 10/21/21
Google has affirmed its decision to ban all third-party cookies from its popular Chrome browser by the end of 2023. Cookies have long under-pinned the business model for online marketing. Some analysts are predicting a “cookiepocalypse”.  But others say that’s hard to swallow. Also, the world is currently facing a global shortage of computer chips. We examine why that’s occurred and when the blockage is likely to shift.
Published 10/14/21
We all know the value of planning, but in a complex, complicated and often confounding world it can be difficult knowing how to start. Scenario Planning is planning tool for uncertain situations - find out what it entails and how it might benefit organisations and businesses.
Published 10/07/21
The big traditional religions of the world are losing followers, but not just, as is commonly thought, to atheism and secularism. Religion as such won't die any time soon because human beings are “hard-wired” to believe in the religious and the supernatural. Some analysts say the world is experiencing a shift toward individualistic spiritual expression, including a return to paganism.
Published 09/30/21
The terms “sustainability” and “sustainable development” are now so commonplace as to be meaningless – according to the sceptics. Worse still, a focus on sustainability, they say, can actually mask the very real problems we have in dealing with climate change and managing the world’s diminishing resources.
Published 09/23/21
Facebook’s CEO has spoken about changing the social media platform into a “metaverse” company and he’s pledged billions to the cause. The metaverse is a term Silicon Valley uses for the next stage of the internet: a world in which all activities are conducted in an immersive Virtual Reality environment. But would Zoom-weary humans want to live in such a world? And is it really just a cover for surveillance capitalism?
Published 09/16/21
New legislation aimed at curbing the power and influence of the big technology companies has been drawn up in both the United States and Europe. While in China, the government has already implemented sweeping changes to the way Chinese technology companies can operate in the PRC and beyond. So, have we now entered a new age of tech regulation?
Published 09/09/21
Is our inability to think long-term influenced by the sheer number of threats we face? In times of crisis, it seems, human beings find it harder to think beyond their immediate difficulties. We investigate. Also, new research on why threats of punishment often fail to deter bad behaviour; and we get an update on Seabed2030, the global initiative to map the ocean floor.
Published 09/02/21
The cliché is that once something goes online, it’s up there forever. But the truth is that the Internet has a memory problem and some of what we’re losing – or could potentially lose – has significance and value. While archivists struggle with the challenge of preserving our digital record, the rise of pay walls present a particular problem.
Published 08/26/21
An Australian court has given inventor status to a piece of Artificial Intelligence. It’s big news in the tech sector, but does it have real world significance? Also, a new research discipline called "Affectivism" – what is it and how will it influence our understanding of human behaviour? And why one New York researcher has labelled Virtual Reality the “rich white kid with famous parents” who “never stops failing upward”.
Published 08/19/21
Almost every week, Bitcoin makes the headlines. Rollercoaster prices, environmental concerns and even the latest scams regularly make the news. But the sheer proliferation of stories surrounding Bitcoin has made it hard to understand what’s happening, let alone the technology itself. This week, Edwina Stott unpicks some of the biggest headlines in Bitcoin to get to the bottom of what’s really going on and what it means for the future.
Published 08/12/21
President Joe Bidden wants to establish a new alliance of democracies to counter the rise of authoritarianism. He’s planning a global summit for later this year. But is such an alliance achievable in a 21st century marked by heightened geo-economic interdependency? Or is it simply a nostalgic yearning for the past? And if such an alliance could be formed, is the United States really up to the job of leading it? 
Published 08/05/21
Automation and outsourcing are dirty words for many people in Western countries worried about their future employment prospects. Developing countries are seen to be the major beneficiaries of off-shore labour, with multinationals hoovering up increased profits. But the reality is a lot more complex and even messy. Now, even developing countries are starting to feel the pain.
Published 07/30/21
New technologies are transforming agriculture, but getting farmers to experiment with different tech combinations remains an issue. A technologically-infused approach can bring benefits, but it also carries risks. In the developing world it can sometimes undermine traditional farming practices and increase inequality.
Published 07/22/21
The rush to go digital during Covid-19 has coincided with a marked rise in ransomware attacks. Some have a political dimension, some are merely opportunistic, but all make sound business sense from a criminal perspective. We discuss the ins and outs of ransomware operations and meet a man whose job is to negotiate with the criminals.
Published 07/15/21
It’s time to attack the “supply side” of fossil fuels, activists argue. And the best way to do that is by establishing a fuel non-proliferation treaty similar to the one used for nuclear weapons. But what would it entail and could it ever work? Also, the sticky relationship between online personalisation and consent; and a call for CEOs to become the next target of automation.
Published 07/08/21
Responses to climate change are often marked by frustration as much as fear. Those seeking to end our fossil-fuel dependency are increasingly turning to litigation to force the hands of companies and governments - often on human rights grounds. But do the courts have a legitimate role to play in leading the way? Or is this a form of judicial activism?
Published 07/01/21
Trying to predict the future is a timeless and time-consuming pursuit. Artificial Intelligence is increasingly being enlisted to the cause, but so too are “super-forecasters” – a new coterie of individuals with remarkable predictive powers. But what are their limits and what does their rise say about the still popular notion of collective intelligence – the wisdom of the crowd? Future Tense looks at the changing role of humans in forecasting.  
Published 06/24/21
Hydrogen is the energy du jour. It’s seen as a clean, smart alternative to fossil fuels, and major investments in its future are being made around the globe.  
Published 06/17/21
In this edition we examine the natural forces at play in Europe where abandoned farmland is increasingly being reclaimed by wildlife. We also hear about Rewilding in an urban context.
Published 06/10/21
Rewilding is a conservation approach based on the reintroduction of lost animal species to their natural habitats. Its original manifestation was controversial because it centred on apex predators like wolves. But the approach has matured and advocates believe it now has a crucial role to play in securing future biodiversity levels.
Published 06/03/21
Some animals, like sea sponges, can live for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years. They also never get cancer. Understanding why that’s the case has led scientists to question conventional notions of ageing. The idea that future humans may never grow old now seems theoretically possible.
Published 05/27/21
Most of us are healthier, wealthier and better educated than ever before. We have greater access to knowledge and expertise than any previous generation. So, why do humans keep doing stupid things? And why is the world awash with conspiracy? Have we already past “peak intelligence”? And if so, what can we do to ensure a smarter future?
Published 05/20/21
There’s been a huge increase in the number of satellites orbiting Earth with private companies and governments planning to launch hundreds more. Near-Earth orbit is already crowded, and the risks posed by space junk are increasing. The consequences could be catastrophic.
Published 05/13/21
Scientists in the UK have developed a form of artificial intelligence that mimics the brain functions of a honeybee. The results promise to make drones and other flying craft far more manoeuvrable and crash-proof. Also, the dream of a “female internet”; and why mathematician, Hannah Fry, thinks all technologists should take a Hippocratic oath.
Published 05/06/21