The debut of Techno Sapiens, a podcast about whether machines will solve our problems.
Techno Sapiens: A New Podcast About Whether Machines Will Solve Our Problems
The citizen’s guide to the future.
July 7 2014 10:16 AM

Techno Sapiens: The Ghost in the Data Edition

A Future Tense podcast about whether machines will solve our problems, or make them worse.


To listen to the first episode of Techno Sapiens, use the player below:

Welcome to Techno Sapiens, a biweekly series of six podcasts hosted by Future Tense fellows, Christine Rosen, senior editor of the New Atlantis: A Journal of Technology & Society, and Marvin Ammori, a First Amendment lawyer who has worked for Google, eBay, and Dropbox, among others. Each podcast will examine how technology—now and in the future—will impact us as a species, and how we relate to each other.


On today’s first episode, Christine and Marvin debate the pros and cons of big data with American Civil Liberties Union legislative counsel Chris Calabrese. As Twitter, Facebook, and all the other tech companies hoover up our information, learning more and more about us, is it time to ask: If we have nothing to hide, do we have nothing to fear?

Here are some of the links and references mentioned during this week's show:

  • OkCupid’s blog, OkTrends, is full of interesting data sets about American relationships.
  • Opower is a company that helps energy utilities tell their users how their energy use compares with their neighbors.
  • The 2008 National Research Council report argued that data mining does not help us find terrorists.
  • The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board’s report also suggested that the National Security Agency program collection of American phone call data has been almost useless in catching terrorists.

This article is part of Future Tense, a collaboration among Arizona State University, the New America Foundation, and Slate. Future Tense explores the ways emerging technologies affect society, policy, and culture. To read more, visit the Future Tense blog and the Future Tense home page. You can also follow us on Twitter.

Christine Rosen is a Future Tense fellow at the New America Foundation and senior editor of the New Atlantis: A Journal of Technology & Society.

Marvin Ammori is an affiliate scholar at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet Society and a practicing lawyer who advises technology companies.

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