Spark from CBC Radio

Spark on CBC Radio One Nora Young helps you navigate your digital life by connecting you to fresh ideas in surprising ways.


  • The Spark Guide To Life, Episode Nine: New Perspectives

    Aug 23 2019

    How to make your own computer: embroider it, of course! Irene Posch is an artist who uses textiles to explore electronics. She and Ebru Kurbak recently designed an embroidery 8 bit computer, using historic patterns of gold embroidery and beads. Taking birding to the streets Google's Street View has yielded a trove of information, from illicit activities to acts of great kindness. And it turns out the service is really good for an activity usually done offline: birding. Nick Lund, a writer for t...more

  • The Spark Guide To Life, Episode Eight: Smart Cities

    Aug 16 2019

    Confused by 'smart city' hype? This expert explains what it is and why we should care As cities around the world begin integrating technology more deeply into urban infrastructure, it's still not clear what people mean when they talk about "smart cities." Urban sustainability professor Andrew Karvonen talks about how to define smart cities, as well as some concerns critics have about the so-called cities of the future. Most Canadians skeptical about smart cities when it comes to their privacy E...more

  • The Spark Guide To Life, Episode Seven: Mixed Emotions

    Aug 09 2019

    A new opinion in the social media echo chamber could close it even tighter Disrupting our social media echo chambers with an opposing view may seem like the best way to reduce political polarization. But sociologist Christopher Bail from Duke University found it can actually entrench people's views and opinions even more. Be it resolved that your next debating opponent may be ... beyond human! Can AI be taught to mount a convincing argument ... with no time to prepare? IBM's Project Debate A...more

  • The Spark Guide To Life, Episode Six: Sound and Music

    Aug 02 2019

    Conserve The Sound preserves the sound Daniel Chun and Jan Derksen run a film design and communication firm, based in Germany. But they're also interested in preserving vanishing and endangered sounds. They created Conserve the Sound, an online museum of vintage sounds. From rotary dial phones to a Polaroid cameras, the site documents sounds from the past before they completely disappear from our daily life. How an AI can help you play piano like Glenn Gould Piano Genie works using a neural n...more

  • The Spark Guide to Life, Episode Five: Ethics

    Jul 26 2019

    Why it's wrong to take pictures of strangers You see it all the time on social media. Someone sees another person doing something stupid or looking ridiculous. They take a discreet photo and post the stranger's image to their feed, usually to the amusement and occasional mockery of their followers. With the ubiquity of smartphone cameras, you can do this, but should you? Lauren Cagle argues "surveilling strangers" amounts to policing people's behaviour and limiting our own ability to explore ou...more

  • The Spark Guide To Life, Episode Four: Groceries!

    Jul 19 2019

    A fake grocery store helps us learn about the real thing At the University of Guelph, there a laboratory made to look like a grocery store. Cameras watch the shoppers as they move down the aisles and special headsets track the movements of their eyes. The Food Retail Lab is run by Mike Von Massow, a food economist and professor at the University of Guelph. He explains some of the tech being used in grocery stores, and how we can expect that tech to affect us. Why self checkout machines stick a...more

  • The Spark Guide To Life, Episode Three: Health

    Jul 12 2019

    With the growth in wearable technology, not to mention smartphone apps, it's easier than ever to count steps, monitor heart rate and more. But do all those scores really help us understand ourselves and our health? Holly Witteman is an associate professor in the department of family and emergency medicine at Laval University in Quebec City. She also has type 1 diabetes, and now uses a continuous glucose monitor. Bill Buxton, design thinker and Principal Researcher with Microsoft Research, argues...more

  • The Spark Guide to Life, Episode Two: Work Productivity

    Jul 05 2019

    The argument for Inbox Infinity Andre Spicer talks about the allure of abandoning the idea of "inbox zero" and just letting the messages stack up How to tidy up your personal tech, Marie Kondo-style Brian X. Chen shares his tips about tidying up your technology physically and digitally, Marie Kondo-style. An office cubicle that's just like you? We're all different so why can't our office cubicles reflect our personality? A Toronto design firm, has created a flexible, pop-up workspace that...more

  • The Spark Guide to Life, Episode One: Transportation

    Jun 28 2019

    How Uber makes traffic worse Last summer, New York City capped the number of Uber and Lyft drivers allowed on city streets, and London, UK is considering doing the same. It's an attempt to manage congestion. But wasn't ride-sharing supposed to reduce congestion? Transportation planning expert Bruce Schaller explains how it has actually made things worse. The evolution of airport design They might bright and modernist, or dark and brutalist. But one problem all airport designers have to deal w...more

  • Spark 444: Autonomous boats. AI-designed fashion. Cracking the creativity code.

    Jun 21 2019

    Autonomous cars are still a ways off⁠—but autonomous boats are in Amerstdam's canals. In his new book, The Creativity Code, Marcus du Sautoy looks at the state of the art in AI creativity. Introducing GLITCH, the world's first AI fashion brand.

  • Spark 443: Smart home security, profiling and privacy. Empowering trans people in tech. Messaging app overload. The ever-evolving synthesizer.

    Jun 14 2019

    How smart home security could have real impacts on privacy, racial profiling. Empowering trans people with technical and digital skills. The evolution of the syntheszier. The cognitive cost of communications bloat.

  • Spark 442: AI and comedy, pairing beauty tutorials with cybersecurity, and North Face turns Wikipedia images into ads

    Jun 07 2019

    Teaching AI about human comedy. Pairing online security tips with beauty tutorials. Photo swapping marketing stunt crosses Wikipedia line.

  • Spark 441: Drone organ delivery, AI investor liability, 5G networks and weather forecasting, does Yelp help?

    May 31 2019

    A surgeon develops a drone to deliver organs for transplant. If an AI trader makes a mistake, who is responsible? How 5G networks could mess up meteorology. Is Yelp creating a surveillance state for restaurant workers?

  • Spark 440: Designing better bikes, YouTube's carbon footprint, life in a gamer house, and the culture of coders.

    May 24 2019

    A 200-year-old bicycle inspires design for climate change. A simple fix for the huge carbon footprint of YouTube videos. Video games and ramen noodles: A look inside an esports team house. The surprising ways coders shape our lives.

  • Spark 439: Innovation award restored after accusations of sexism, safety and privacy in smart prisons, Windows Solitaire, and Ian McEwan's new book about an AI love triangle

    May 17 2019

    Booker-prize-winning author Ian McEwan talks about AI and his latest book, Machines Like Me. CES restores its 'Innovation Award' to women's pleasure product, The Osé. And are 'smart' prisons necessary for safety, or an invasion of privacy?

  • Spark 438 : Robo umpires, the first AI-designed sport, spy plane archeology, and the internet gets a health check-up

    May 10 2019

    MLB umpires need tech help at the plate, says researcher. Introducing Speedgate: the world's first AI-designed sport. Cold War spy plane images illustrate human development-and destruction. The health of the internet in 2019: Deepfakes, biased AI and addiction by design.

  • Spark 437: Mental-health stigma in tech, therapy games in Nunavut, here comes WiFi6, and reclaiming boredom from our devices

    May 03 2019

    Ryerson's DMZ breaks the stigma around mental health in startup culture. Kids in Nunavut use role-playing computer games to manage depression. What we can expect from "Wifi 6." And philosopher Mark Kingwell reclaims boredom in his new book, "Wish I Was Here."

  • Spark 436: Smart cities

    Apr 26 2019

    From Stockholm to Sidewalk Labs, smart-city technology is rapidly expanding. Sensors embedded in roads, video surveillance, and connected devices everywhere. Will this make urban life a utopian dream, or privacy nightmare? In a special edition of Spark, Nora Young speaks to urban design experts, community leaders and academics to see what the city of the future might look like.

  • Spark 435: Playing music to cheese, the power of emoji, the value of our free services, and Canadian stars of AI research.

    Apr 18 2019

    Cheese wheels bombarded by music taste different. New doc looks at the evolution of emoji. Study suggests cash values for 'free' digital services. From neuroscience to neural nets, Canadian researchers are on the vanguard of AI.

  • Spark 434: Taking things apart, selling our own data, tricking AI to do the wrong thing, and a gender-inclusive stock photo library that goes beyond clichés

    Apr 12 2019

    Why we shouldn't be afraid to take our tech apart. AI can be easily fooled and this could have serious implications. Sell your own data instead of giving it away to big tech. New stock photo collection features trans and non-binary models.

  • Spark 433: Smart homes getting smarter. Cybersecurity's reliance on AI. The art market embraces AI creators. How Wikidata aims to catalogue everything.

    Apr 05 2019

    How the smart home might imprison us, AI and the war on cybersecurity, whether an AI can be an artistic collaborator, and Wikidata's catalogue of the universe.

  • FIXED Spark 433: Smart homes getting smarter. Cybersecurity's reliance on AI. The art market embraces AI creators. How Wikidata aims to catalogue everything.

    Apr 05 2019

    How the smart home might imprison us, AI and the war on cybersecurity, whether an AI can be an artistic collaborator, and Wikidata's catalogue of the universe.

  • Spark 432: Grocery store technology

    Mar 29 2019

    Tech at the Food Retail Lab, the impact of self checkout, grocery delivery services, and reducing food waste.

  • Spark 431: The quest for immortality, designing for seniors, Google gets into the gaming game, your genome and privacy

    Mar 22 2019

    The quest for immortality through extreme fasting and radical life extension. Designing tech for the older crowd. Google's new streaming service aims to be Netflix for gaming. Your genome could be a privacy nightmare.

  • Spark 430: Surveilling strangers, social media data can set insurance rates, Girl Guides and Scouts now earn STEM badges, online habits of people in the developing world

    Mar 15 2019

    The ethics of posting photos of strangers online. How social media data could be used to set your insurance rates. The Girl Scouts introduce a 'cybersecurity' badge. New research shows online habits of people in the developing world aren't that different from ours.

  • Spark 429: Designing a safer YouTube, self-harm on social media, an embroidered computer and how to embrace your 'inner elder' at work

    Mar 08 2019

    From the so-called Momo Challenge to secret, illegal content exchanged in comments, YouTube is facing huge challenges in moderating its content. If we could redesign it, how could it be safer? Earlier this year, Facebook and Instagram announced they would remove or censor images of self-injury or self-harm. But some say that could harm those recovering and wanting to share their experiences. Artist Irene Posch has designed an embroidery 8 bit computer using historic patterns of gold embroidery a...more

  • Spark 428: A special look at some surprising, and scary, uses for Artificial Intelligence.

    Mar 01 2019

    Algorithms that set the price of things online are becoming more common. But what happens if those price-setting algorithms get together? Collusion. Beer-makers around the world are now using machine learning to optimise beer recipes. New approaches to AI mean computers are getting much better at creating things that can trick us. Thanks to open source software anyone can create video and images of people that Do. Not. Exist. How do they do it, and what does this mean for our ability to tell wha...more