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.

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

Behind every major technological innovation is an engineer. Whether inventing, planning, or building, engineers are instrumental to stuff getting done. They’ve built the world around us, but do they have what it takes to save it to?

We meet Scott McKeon (From the Ground Up), a student pushing for a human centred approach in engineering. We then chat to Abbas El-Zein (Sydney University) and Sam Perkins (Engineers Without Borders) about what this means for the discipline. Finally, we meet a classroom of students at the University of Technology Sydney who want to make change happen.

With five times more viewers than the NRL Grand Final, and a higher prize money than Wimbledon, the world of competitive video gaming has flown curiously under the radar in Australia.

Producer Myles Houlbrook-Walk takes us into the growing Australian Esports scene. First, we delve into the underground culture with Alex Walker (editor Kotaku). Next, we meet some of the players who have gone pro, like FIFA eLeague player Mark Brijeski, Overwatch player Connie Ko, and train alongside Australia’s top League of Legends squad. Finally, we chat to sport scientist Job Fransen (University of Technology Sydney) about the physical demands of professional play!