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Raw Data

Author: Stanford and PRX

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We’ve entered a new era. The creation and collection of information plays an ever-increasing — yet often hidden — role in our lives. Algorithms filter all sorts of experiences, from the mundane to the monumental. The fuel that powers and curates these experiences is…data. Data is the new oil; whoever controls data has power. Is this making things better? Worse? Raw Data is a show about how information becomes power. What are the implications for all of us, now that mountains of data are more accessible and malleable than ever?

Episodes post on Thursdays. From Stanford and PRX.

Hosted by Andrea Mustain and Mike Osborne.

We love hearing from you! Please email us at hello@rawdatapodcast.com
53 Episodes
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The Digital Divide

The Digital Divide

2019-10-1700:29:56

Imagine a life without the Internet. No email, no Instagram, no texting, no Google maps, no Netflix...what would you do? A “normal” life would be next to impossible. But huge numbers of Americans face this very problem. Access to high-speed Internet is still an enormous challenge for a lot of people. We talk with Nicol Turner Lee, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, about what it means to be “digitally invisible,” and the toll lack of access takes. It’s a complicated problem, and one with no easy answers. And, for some context, we take a trip through time to see how America tackled a similarly dire issue at the height of the Great Depression.Find out more at rawdatapodcast.com
Hacking (BYTE)

Hacking (BYTE)

2019-10-1000:12:59

In the world of computer science, being a hacker means you know what’s up, and you have street cred. Outside of technology circles, though, hacking is more associated with things like data breaches, ransomware, and malware. So where does the term come from, and why does it have different meanings to different people? In our conversation with Meredith Broussard, a professor at New York University, we explore the roots of hacking, and what it says about society’s relationship with technology today.Find out more at rawdatapodcast.com
Machine Learning (BYTE)

Machine Learning (BYTE)

2019-10-0300:19:19

It’s 2019, and machine learning is everywhere. It might not be Skynet, but it can still sound a little scary. If the robot apocalypse isn’t around the corner, what is? We talk to Kantwon Rogers, a lecturer at Georgia Tech and frequent guest of the show, to demystify this increasingly omnipresent technology. We learn about about how the heck machine learning actually works, how it’s being used to improve our lives, and what should be keeping us awake at night when it comes to this powerful technology. (Hint: It’s not because of killer robots. Not yet...)Find out more at rawdatapodcast.com
Memory (BYTE)

Memory (BYTE)

2019-09-2600:12:23

What exactly is memory? And why is it so important to how our devices work today? Friend of the show and Georgia Tech computing lecturer Kantwon Rogers breaks it down into bits and bytes — and hints at what kinds of clouds the future may bring.BONUS: Andrea offers up her global solution to solve the issue of tailgating.Find out more at rawdatapodcast.com
The Answer Machine

The Answer Machine

2019-09-1900:28:24

Google has become our yellow pages, our atlas, our library, our medical consultant, our shopping guide. Which means it is, basically, a giant, virtual confession booth. It knows our most intimate secrets and our most mundane desires. Which has some really amazing upsides; we get a smorgasbord of answers in milliseconds. But behind the scenes of every search, there’s a bidding war going on. Whoever wins that war has the power to shape not just how we spend our money, but also, perhaps, our political views, and maybe even our will to live. We talk to Patrick Berlinquette, a search engine marketer and certified Google partner, about how our searches are, literally, for sale, and get some perspective on the world of digital advertising from NYU’s Vasant Dhar.Find out more at rawdatapodcast.com
Algorithms (BYTE)

Algorithms (BYTE)

2019-09-1200:13:091

Simply put, we (humans) can’t possibly process all of the data in the world, which is why computers are so useful — and why algorithms have become so necessary.In this mini-episode, we go back to the basics. We talk to Georgia Tech computer programming lecturer Kantwon Rogers, a self-declared “eternal optimist,” who breaks down where algorithms came from and where they might be taking us. Find out more at rawdatapodcast.com
Your Data Are Showing

Your Data Are Showing

2019-08-2900:26:461

What could someone learn about you from your location? What about your Facebook likes? What about just...your face? You’re probably thinking — not much. But Stanford researcher Michal Kosinski says that even superficial data have the potential to expose some of the most intimate details of our lives. Kosinski’s research is provocative, and he has a track record of drawing attention to unexpected risks that come with digital technologies. He argues we live in “a post-privacy” world, and he says the sooner we admit to that reality, the sooner we can start working to improve it.Find out more at rawdatapodcast.com
Originally broadcast in March 2019, this episode has a new introduction, with an update on the Trump administration’s push to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. At the birth of the United States, the new nation faced a problem. How do you make a crazy new idea — power coming not from a king, but from the people — a reality? There was no handbook; the framers of the Constitution had to just kind of make it up. They landed on the idea of a census. You count the people in each state, and apportion power thusly. A great idea, and certainly a totally new one. But also one that, over the centuries, led to a multitude of unforeseen crises. It turned out that keeping representative democracy on the rails required some technical innovations — and led to the invention of a magnificent, and very significant, machine. Find out more at rawdatapodcast.com
Power Lines, Post SCOTUS

Power Lines, Post SCOTUS

2019-07-1100:31:581

Originally broadcast in May 2019, this episode has a new introduction, with an update on the implications of the recent Supreme Court decision on partisan gerrymandering.The United States is a pretty divided country; which may just feel like an inevitable product of our times. But it turns out there’s one partisan tool, in particular, that bears at least some of the blame. It’s something that is used behind closed doors, and that, thanks to the power of software and data, has turned into an ever more powerful partisan weapon. One that has now gone so far that some are saying it’s subverting democracy. And without any intervention, there’s no reason to think the situation will change for the better. Has our democracy crossed a line? And if it has, what is to be done?Find out more at rawdatapodcast.com
Conspiracy Tyranny

Conspiracy Tyranny

2019-07-0400:21:221

If the rise of despots around the world seems bewildering, especially given our unprecedented access to information in 2019 — therein might lie the very problem. A new kind of propaganda has taken hold, one that relies on too much information, instead of too little. In Part III of our mini-series on Russian disinformation, we take a look at how Vladimir Putin, leveraging 21st-century technology, engineered a media climate rife with conflict and conspiracies at home, and then took the strategy global. Not only to our shores, but to places around the world. And with deadly results. We talk with journalist Peter Pomerantsev about his early warnings around Russia’s new menace, how it plays to the advantage of authoritarians — and how we now see their techniques put to use by politicians in the United States.Find out more at rawdatapodcast.com
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