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Wild Wild Tech

Studio71

21 episodes

Apr 21, 2021

Why a Dystopian Future is Not So Far Away 

With the continually rapid evolution of the technology around us and the advent of computers and smartphones, it would appear that the future is upon us. But is that necessarily a good thing? This week, Jordan and Joshua speak with writer and tech journalist Alexandra Samuel to discuss how our new reality was merely science fiction just a few years ago, and sometimes quite literally! Alexandra explains how Sci-Fi writers have actually predicted technology trends and have even shaped a lot of the tech we use today. She also explains how, much like everything else, a lot of how technology is used tends to benefit those who are already privileged, while leaving the underprivileged in the past. Not to mention that after a certain point, A.I. technology can become self-sufficient which could mean the end of humanity as we know it. So can science fiction continue to give us a window into a beautiful future, or have we progressed so much that we've already doomed ourselves?

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Mar 17, 2021

Can A.I. Bring the Dead Back to Life? 

What if you were offered the chance to speak with a lost loved one? New technology, namely the app Replika, is offering the chance to upload someone's data to recreate them in the digital form. Joshua and Jordan chat with journalist with Protocol, Mike Murphy, who has written extensively about the subject of recreating the digital self using data. Replika came into the public eye when founder Eugenia Kuyda shared the story of her friend Roman Mazurenko who passed away. Eugenia uploaded Roman's thousands of texts to the Replika software to create a chatbot that converses like Roman. Eugengia believes that this technology could help keep the spirit alive of someone who has died. Conversely, Jordan and Joshua also speak with Professor at Keene State College, Amber Davisson, who warns of how this burgeoning technology could be exploited for the vast amount of user-submitted data it requires. So is this the modern answer to grieving or is this yet another dangerous step towards perfecting deep fakes and having it fall into the wrong hands?

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Mar 3, 2021

The Ratatouille Tik Tok Musical That Became a Sensation 

Ratatouille: The Musical started as a meme, then a viral TikTok video until ultimately becoming a hit Broadway musical that Disney approved. How is that possible, especially during a pandemic? This week, Jordan and Joshua talk to a few of the key players in turning a short internet video into a full-scale production. Jordan and Joshua speak with Michael Breslin and Patrick Foley, the writers of Ratatouille: The Musical (or Ratatousical if you'd like) to explain the incredible journey that this musical has undertaken. They also speak with Greg Nobile, CEO of Seaview Productions, who explains how he was able to get in contact with Disney representatives to secure their blessing for the once-unauthorized musical version of their hit Pixar film. And finally, the hosts chat with Daniel Mertzlufft who fell into the role of composer for the musical and how this experience has changed his life forever. Beyond breaking through its internet fame, Ratatouille: The Musical also raised over $2 million for The Actors Fund, a charitable organization aiming to help struggling film and theater actors, most notably during this pandemic that has shut down most if not all film and theatrical productions across the country.

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Feb 17, 2021

Reddit vs. Hedgefund Billionaires: The Full Gamestop Story 

Gamestop, Robinhood, Hedge funds, Reddit; there's a good chance you've been hearing these terms being thrown around, but what exactly is going on? This week, Jordan and Joshua break down the timeline events of that made Gamestop stock soar and make redditors millionaires overnight. Journalist and writer for VICE MOTHERBOARD Matthew Gault simplifies how the stock market works, what "shorting" is, the major conflicted interest with Robinhood's involvement, and how savvy redditors banded together and created this frenzy. Fellow MOTHERBOARD writer and GME investor Jason Koebler, who wrote his own explainer of the entire situation, discusses why Robinhood appealed to young investors, including the subreddit r/wallstreetbets that lead to Gamestop stock to soar, which in turn angered hedge funds who shorted the stock. Plus, Jason discusses how this seemingly David vs. Goliath story has a darker side when looking at the toxicity of wallstreetbets and what the future holds for this brave new stock market that might not fully represent the valuation of companies and the economy at large.

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Jan 27, 2021

Meet Henry, The A.I. Sex Bot Who Wants to Fix Loneliness 

Will we eventually reach a point in technology where realistic sex dolls can become suitable companions? This week, Joshua and Jordan speak with Erin Griffith, an investigative journalist who came face-to-face with Henry, a sex bot from RealBotix that could be a glimpse into the future of human companionship. RealBotix, founded by Matt McMullen, is working on creating the perfect realistic humanoid that McMullen claims is not just about sex. Once fully completed, Henry should be able to have in-depth conversations with his human counterpart, assuming that person can afford the hefty $12,000 price tag. But the hyper-sexualized dolls littering the RealBotix warehouse, and the fact that most of the people in the company are male, indicates there's still an issue with inclusion. So could sex bots like Henry be the cure for loneliness in the future, especially for women who are often forgotten in this field, or will our real-world biases and a male-dominated tech industry create the same issues that plague us today?

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Jan 13, 2021

Has the Internet Permanently Changed How We Speak? 

You may not realize it, but that smartphone in your pocket has influenced how you and much of the world speaks to each other. This week, Jordan and Joshua speak with two linguists to discuss how internet culture and even the act of texting has completely morphed the way the world communicates with each other. First, linguist David Crystal discusses how language has always evolved and changed, but the rapid-fire evolution of communication technology has thrown that change into hyperdrive. Plus, linguist Gretchen McCulloch explains more specifically how internet lingo has created a new form of language, merging written and spoken language, which is creating a generational gap, even between people born within a few years of each other. Whether you like it or not, the way you speak has been influenced by the technology around us. The question is, is this just a natural progression that has happened since the beginning of spoken language, or a sign of the decay of our society?

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Dec 2, 2020

How Did a Website Identify a Serial Killer? 

The FBI estimates that as many as 40% of homicides go unsolved, with no national database to keep track. But what if an algorithm could help identify trends and even potentially bring the number of unsolved murders down? This week, Joshua and Jordan delve into the Murder Accountability Project, a nonprofit group dedicated to mapping unsolved homicides in the United States. They speak with one of the founders of the M.A.P., Thomas Hargrove, who was able to create an algorithm that mapped clusters of murders in various areas around the U.S. His work was even able to identify a previously-unknown serial killer in Gary, Indiana, and could help solve more unsolved cases in the future. Thomas's work has revealed startling issues in how police across the country fail to keep track of unsolved murders when this data is crucial in understanding crime, and even helping prevent it, as well as how murders that remain unsolved disproportionately affects women and people of color.

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Nov 18, 2020

Yes, You Can Buy Human Bones on Instagram 

Amidst the influencers, cute animals, memes and other videos on Instagram lives a bizarre, dark and strangely legal underworld where people buy and sell human skulls, bones and body parts. Jordan Erica Webber and Joshua Rivera dig deep into this macabre marketplace where they meet with Henry Scragg, proprietor of curiositiesfromthe5thcorner, and actual buyer and seller of human skulls and other death-related oddities. They also learn that the trading of human bones is nothing new and actually dates back to about the 1800s. Writer Oscar Schwartz's article outlines the history of the troublesome practice as it was used in phrenology and other outdated sciences, and attributes it to cultural appropriation. And although Instagram is now the go-to to buying marketplace, it began on eBay and other sites in the early days of the internet, and is showing no signs of slowing. Oscar explains how this trading in body parts is a remnant of colonialists who exploited and even killed indigenous people, but Henry defends his business as embracing death as part of life, detailing how one can be a responsible and discerning skull-trader. So is the trading of human remains just another legitimate-albeit-unusual business, or is it perpetuating an outdated practice that exploits disenfranchised people and their culture?

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