Machine Learning in Africa and Tesla Surfboards

Hope you're having a good summer! This time, Nora Young talks about this Technology Review article on advances in machine learning in tech hubs in Africa, such as Accra and Nairobi. 

Cathi Bond has some summer fun for you! Tesla came out with this limited edition, super stylish surfboard (via New Atlas). And, looking for a little, um, calm water fun? How about this? The Wheeebo disc that lets you glide, slowly, along the water.


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Next Gen Skyscrapers and AI in Hollywood

This time around, Cathi Bond talks about this project by celebrated Canadian architect, Moshe Safdie (you can read more about it in this release).

Nora Young raises this article in The Verge on the use of AI in the design of Hollywood film.

Over the summer, we'll be releasing new episodes once a month, and then back to a proper bi-weekly schedule after Labour Day. Have a great summer!


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Virtual Reality Empathy and Robot Delivery

Long time, no podcast! We are back! This time, Nora talks about this Nautilus article on using VR headsets to foster empathy, and the disturbing idea that empathy may be on the wane. Cathi has a more lighthearted story with Digit, a bipedal robot that would deliver packages to your door via autonomous vehicle, when those cars are not otherwise being used (via New Atlas). Check out the video! Nora mentioned a few related stories that ran on Spark in the past: Friction-free racism (relevant part is at the end of the interview) Paul Bloom on rational compassion  [iframe style="border:none" src="//html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/10196678/height/100/width/480/thumbnail/no/render-playlist/no/theme/standard/tdest_id/237069" height="100" width="480" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen] Download MP3

Surveillance Special: smart doorbells and drones

On this podcast, Nora Young talks about technologies of home surveillance. As this article in The Outline discusses, are these home security features just making us more paranoid? And who gets to decide what constitutes "suspicious" activity?

Cathi Bond looks at this review of the EEGSmart Udrone, which lets you control a drone's flight with your mind. It also contains features that enable facial and gesture recognition. As drones get 'smarter' and more popular, are we enabling a surveillance culture?


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Next Gen Retail and Mad Men Hotel

On this podcast, Cathi Bond talks about Stitchfix, and their data-driven approach to retail. Based on your extensive profile, clothes are selected for you and delivered to your door. You have three days to return or buy whichever items you want. Would you opt for this? Super convenient, or would you miss the 'retail therapy'? Read more at Fast Company.

Are you in a Mad Men mood? How about a visit to the TWA Hotel? A development company is opening a hotel built around Eero Saarinen's vintage hotel at JFK airport. It comes equipped with Florence Knoll furniture, and even rotary dial phones (via Quartz).


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Urban Life Special: Small Homes and Smart Transit

On today's podcast, Nora Young talks about Ordine, from Italian design studio, Adriano (via Core77). It's a smart solution for people who don't need an oven, and don't want to dedicate full time real estate to a stove top. The Ordine burners hang on the wall when not in use. Simply put them on the counter when you're ready to go. They use induction heating, (they refer to it as an "induction hub") so you don't have to worry about blazing hot burners sitting out on your counter. See pics and other smart home designs here. So, you have your small urban space, how are you going to get around in our increasingly crowded cities? Romanian company, Carpii has the 4ciclet, a four-wheeled bike/Segway sort of thing designed for covering relatively small distances (via New Atlas). You 'pedal' the 4ciclet using a couple of treadles with your feet while standing, so it doesn't require the same effort as conventional cycling, suggesting its use for older people. See videos here. [iframe style="border:none" src="//html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/8855918/height/100/width/480/thumbnail/no/render-playlist/no/theme/standard/tdest_id/237069" height="100" width="480" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen] Download MP3

Robots for Seniors and Pre-Internet Trolls

This time, Cathi Bond looks at ElliQ a companion robot for older folks who may need a little support. Would aging Baby Boomers who still want autonomy and something tech forward adopt this kind of thing in years to come? (Via IEEE Spectrum) Nora Young mentions this article in the British Library blog, documenting the strange history of Johann Struensee, who brought in freedom of the press to 18th century Denmark, only to be immediately publicly ridiculed in that newly free medium. Well worth a read, as the author describes Struensee's mockers as 'proto-internet trolls' (H/T Hacker News) [iframe style="border:none" src="//html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/8659226/height/100/width/480/thumbnail/no/render-playlist/no/theme/standard/tdest_id/237069" height="100" width="480" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen] Download MP3

Next Gen Hydroponics and Brand Mascot Hotels

Hey there! We are back! This time, Nora Young talks about "aeroponics": a sort of next gen hydroponics where the plant roots are just dangling out in the air, nourished by nutrient-rich misters (via Modern Farmer). You can even "plant" them vertically. Whole new potential for a plant wall! Nora also mentions the fine folks at Normative Design in Toronto, and their smart and engaging series on Design + AI. Cathi Bond talks about this PSFK article exploring how brands are starting to use cartoon characters and mascots in real world physical experiences, such as hotels and cafes; examples include a Toy Story hotel, and a Hello Kitty cafe. The aesthetic is colourful, childlike and plastic-y. What's up with that? We have some theories!   [iframe style="border:none" src="//html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/8534909/height/100/width/480/thumbnail/no/render-playlist/no/theme/standard/tdest_id/237069" height="100" width="480" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen] Download MP3

Realistic Robots, Tiny Drones, Smart Hiring

Best of the season to you! Cathi and I are back with some fun for the holidays. This time on the podcast, Cathi Bond talks about Affetto, this startlingly realistic android robot. Cathi wonders about having something like this, or Rock Hudson, say, as a home companion. Personally, I (Nora) find it kinda creepy. What do you think? We take a quick look at the city of Helsinki's decision to go for a hiring system that removes all personally identifying info (eg sex, age, mother tongue) in an effort to get beyond bias in hiring. It seems to have worked for orchestras; could it work for city governments? Cathi is also pretty obsessed with drones these days, like the tiny dji Mavic Pro (see the review at New Atlas) Would you like a drone of your own? How should they be regulated in light of the recent events at Gatwick airport? And as always this time of year, the greatest Christmas movie ever, The Thin Man! Obligatory: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dT6x9Aullek [iframe style="border:none" src="//html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/8038604/height/100/width/480/thumbnail/no/render-playlist/no/theme/standard/tdest_id/237069" height="100" width="480" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen] Download MP3

Streaming Movies and Cool New Housing for Old Buildings

Hi all! Thanks for coming back! We've been a long time gone, but we are at it again! This time, Nora Young talks about the challenges streaming film services have, and this Forbes article about how two niche movie streaming services have managed -- or not -- to make a go of it. Cathi Bond thinks there's a lot to be learned from the cable world in the form of Turner Classic Movies. Cathi looks at a really cool idea in place in China: dropping small, modernist, smartly designed housing 'inserts' called "Plugin Houses into dilapidated buildings. Check out the story and lots of images at New Atlas. Could this be a model for elsewhere? Also, super snappy recommendation: this Vox explainer on those iconic Blue Note album covers! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNgA7dDs90E&feature=youtu.be [iframe style="border:none" src="//html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/7900466/height/100/width/480/thumbnail/no/render-playlist/no/theme/standard/tdest_id/237069" height="100" width="480" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen] Download MP3