Think: Digital Futures

Think: Digital Futures tells stories from the digital age.

Each episode explores how today’s technology is transforming tomorrow — from our biology, habits, relationships, spaces to our place in the universe.

How are your Facebook posts impacting the health of the planet? It might sound like a contradiction in terms but this episode from Think: Sustainability’s Jake Morcom explores the environmental impact of online data.

Jake chats to Ella Barclay, an artist and graduate student at the University of Technology Sydney; Senior Analyst Rodney Getta; and Lecturer Tanya Notley from the Institute for Culture and Society at Western Sydney University.

On April 25th 2018, 25 year old Alex Minassian drove a passenger van into pedestrians on a crowded Toronto footpath, killing 10 people and injuring 16 others. Moments before the attack Minassian posted a message on his facebook shedding light on his motive. The message voiced admiration for a man who killed six college students in California in 2014, and announced his allegiance to a internet hate group called the incels, short for “involuntary celibate”.

In this episode we hear from Heidi Matthews who teaches in international criminal law (Osgoode Hall Law School), we look at the history of online misogyny with former journalist and researcher Emma A. Jane (University of New South Wales), and talk about the problematic nature of letting incels define themselves with Dr Ramona Vijeyarasa (University of Technology Sydney).

Producer: Miles Herbert and Cheyne Anderson.

If you’ve tuned in to news from China over the past couple of months you’d be forgiven for thinking Xi Jinping spent the Summer reading Orwell and is now trying to convince 1.3 billion people how rad it is. From AI facial recognition tech to the nightmarish social credit system, surveillance tech in China is on the rise.

This episode we hear two perspectives on the state of surveillance tech in the Middle Kingdom. We look into the historical roots of the social credit system with Wanning Sun (University of Technology Sydney). Then we head to the “laboratory of surveillance tech” Xinjiang province with Wall Street Journal reporter Josh Chin.

If your toddler is accidentally watching gory videos on Youtube Kids, or your Facebook feed won’t stop recommending you ads for formal track pants - you might be the victim of a broken algorithm. Algorithms are often cited as the architects of our digital lives, but how much do they actually influence what we consume online?

We watch Youtube with James Meese (University of Technology Sydney), understand the ecosystem with social media researcher Babak Abedin (UTS), and dissect algorithmic culture with Ted Striphas (University of Colorado, Boulder).

The recent anti-sex trafficking bill SESTA-FOSTA sent shock waves through sex industries around the world. But it’s not just income sex workers are losing when their business is forced offline.

We chat to Cameron Cox, CEO of Sex Worker Outreach Project; Andre Shakti, sex worker, activist and journalist; Eurydice Aroney (University of Technology Sydney); and John Scott (Queensland University of Technology).

WARNING: Explicit Content

Further links:

The Lysistrada Emergency Fund

Third Wave Fund Sex Workers Giving Circle