radiolab

Distinguished scientist on the mistakes pundits make when they predict the future of AI

Rodney Brooks -- eminent computer scientist and roboticist who has served as head of MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and CTO of Irobot -- has written a scorching, provocative list of the seven most common errors made (or cards palmed) by pundits and other fortune-tellers when they predict the future of AI. Read the rest

How Big Tobacco invented Donald Trump and Brexit (and what to do about it)

Economist Tim Harford (previously) traces the history of denialism and "fake news" back to Big Tobacco's cancer denial playbook, which invented the tactics used by both the Brexit and Trump campaigns to ride to victory -- a playbook that dismisses individual harms as "anaecdotal" and wide-ranging evidence as "statistical," and works in concert with peoples' biases (smokers don't want cigarettes to cause cancer, Brexiteers want the UK to be viable without the EU, Trump supporters want simple, cruel policies to punish others and help them) to make emprically wrong things feel right. Read the rest

Podcast recommendation: Busted: America's Poverty Myths

Radiolab brought to my attention this great five-part podcast series on poverty in America. Busted: America's Poverty Myths breaks down accepted wisdom about poverty to reveal the reality of what it’s actually like to be poor in America. The show takes familiar concepts like the social safety net and the rags-to-riches narrative and explores the ways in which they’re not quite what they seem. You can download the podcast on the On The Media iTunes feed or listen to it on the WNYC website. You can also get a taste of Busted by listening to the latest Radiolab episode, which offers a compilation of Busted stories. Read the rest

Podcasts, positivism and "explainerism"

David A Banks argues that the boom in NPR explainer podcasts -- Radiolab, Note to Self, Hidden Brain, Freakonomics Radio and others -- are ideologically bankrupt, presenting individual, often neurological explanations for social phenomena -- rather than turning to the traditional social science accounts of these issues, so that the weird, broken, messed up things in our world are the result of our human "hardwiring" rather than the outgrowth of policies and ideology. Read the rest

More Perfect: Radiolab's genius podcast about the Supreme Court

When I first heard that Radiolab (previously), the wonderful podcast that combines deep dives into technical subjects with masterful storytelling, was going to start a new podcast about the Supreme Court, it sounded like a weird fit. Read the rest

Experimental video of Radiolab's Jad Abumrad talking about the "Function of Music"

Radiolab's Jad Abumrad riffs on "The Function of Music" in this spectacular cut-up video by Mac Premo.

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The Planet Remade: frank, clear-eyed book on geoengineering, climate disaster, & humanity's future

Since its publication in late 2015, science writer Oliver Morton's The Planet Remade: How Geoengineering Could Change the World has swept many "best book" (best science book, best business book, best nonfiction book) and with good reason: though it weighs in at a hefty 440 pages and covers a broad scientific, political and technological territory, few science books are more important, timely and beautifully written.

Fantastic radio show about virtual reality, c. 1992

Media artist Michael Naimark writes:

In 1990, right as the first VR wave was swelling, Stewart Brand and Grateful Dead manager Jon Mcintyre concocted a scheme to produce an invitation-only 24-hour VR event modeled after the Electric Cool-Aid Acid test. They convinced Colossal Pictures, the largest soundstage in San Francisco, to host it. Dozens of demos and scores of talks were presented, by far the largest and most prominent VR event of its kind. I directed the video production. In total, 66 hours of video, both from a pro crew and a “basket full of prosumer cameras”, was shot.

Shortly after the event, David (Lawrence), Jim (McKee), and Earwax received an NEA grant to make a radio show. The funding enabled all of the video to be logged and transcribed. From it they made several versions, organized in short 1-4 minute themed sections. Their style was very “pre RadioLab”. From the New American Radio website:

Virtual Paradise—The Reality Tape (1992-93)

Earwax Productions with David Lawrence. An exciting production created in the spirit of the technology it focuses on. Virtual Paradise examines the ideas, issues, and attitudes that currently surround virtual reality. As this technology evolves, it brings with it the potential for redefining our most basic assumptions about media, experience, and reality. Virtual Paradise features many voices recorded at Cyberthon, a 24-hour virtual reality event presented by Whole Earth Institute in 1990. It also includes interviews with such visionaries as science-fiction author William Gibson, VR architect Jaron Lanier, artificial reality pioneer Myron Krueger, and Timothy Leary—all intercut with music and sound effects and shaped into a highly entertaining and insightful "virtual" tape composition.

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The snitch in your pocket: making sense of Stingrays

If you've been struggling to make sense of the stories about Stingrays (super-secretive cellular surveillance tech used by cops and governments) (previously) this week's Note to Self podcast does the best job I've yet seen (heard) of explaining them. Read the rest

Pop-Up Magazine comes to LA: 4/19/2015

Pop-Up Magazine is a spectacular night of storytelling, performance, music, and film packed into a 100-minute extravaganza. It's coming to the beautiful Ace Theatre in downtown LA this Sunday.

San Francisco and Los Angeles: Pop-Up Magazine

Our friends at Pop-Up Magazine, the incredibly popular live storytelling/performance/music/film event have scheduled two shows in San Francisco this year (4/17 and 4/18) followed by a night in Los Angeles (4/19), and tickets are now on sale! Read the rest

Understanding American football helps us understand America

Radiolab can always be depended on for an interesting take on questions you never even knew you had. Their story on American Football is no exception. Read the rest

How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World

Steven Johnson blends the history of science with keen social observation to tell the story of how our modern world came about—and where it's headed. Cory Doctorow reviews How We Got to Now, also a six-part PBS/BBC series, which ties together a lifetime of work

Great ideas that changed the world, and the people they rode in on

To inaugurate the publication of his brilliant new book How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World (also a PBS/BBC TV series), Steven Johnson has written about the difficult balance between reporting on the history of world-changing ideas and the inventors credited with their creation Read the rest

How psychology can improve your sleep life [YANSS 24]

William Dement, former dean of sleep studies at Stanford, a man with 50 years of research behind him, once told a reporter for National Geographic – “As far as I know, the only reason we need to sleep that is really, really solid is because we get sleepy.”

Pitch-drop experiments: science's long wait

Maggie Koerth-Baker reports on the strange science of an experimental result decades in the making.

A new dance: ODC, Andy Goldsworthy, and Zoë Keating (San Francisco)

Tomorrow night, San Francisco's pioneering contemporary dance company ODC will premiere a new work inspired by famed sculptor/environmental artist Andy Goldsworthy with live music by experimental cellist and loop musician Zoë Keating, likely familiar to Boing Boing readers from previous BB posts, or her appearances on Radiolab and Who Killed Amanda Palmer. For this piece, titled "boulders and bones," ODC artistic directors Branda Way and KT Nelson took choreographic inspiration from the ever-transforming landscapes of art and nature. The visual context of the dance comes from a time-lapse film by RJ Muna shot during the seven-month installation of a Goldsworthy sculpture at private location north of San Francisco.

Performances of "boulders and bones," along with several other works, will be held through March 30. Tickets are available here. Boing Boing is delighted to share the special video below from a "boulders and bones" rehearsal, along with another stunning photograph of dancer Natasha Adorlee Johnson by RJ Muna.

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