13 episodes

Welcome to Mind Over Chatter, the Cambridge University Podcast! One series at a time, we break down complex issues into simple questions. Join Nick, James and Naomi as they ask clever people seemingly simple questions. We’ll explore climate change, the future, and much more!

Mind Over Chatter University of Cambridge

    • Society & Culture
    • 5.0 • 12 Ratings

Welcome to Mind Over Chatter, the Cambridge University Podcast! One series at a time, we break down complex issues into simple questions. Join Nick, James and Naomi as they ask clever people seemingly simple questions. We’ll explore climate change, the future, and much more!

    What is the future of reproduction?

    What is the future of reproduction?

    Our reproductive capabilities are changing in exciting ways, altering our fundamental understanding of fertility, reproduction, and even parenthood. In this episode, we asked our guests what the consequences of novel reproductive technologies are likely to be, and how they will impact the future of human reproduction. Alice Reid told us about how reproduction has changed over the last 200 years and the likely demographic impact of assisted reproduction, while Lucy Van de Wiel introduced the important ways in which reproductive technologies must be considered in the context of wide social and political issues. Thorsten Boroviak shared his exciting and cutting-edge research on developing new reproductive technologies. We cover topics ranging from egg-freezing, so-called ‘three-parent-babies, and the importance of studying the embryonic development of primates.

    This episode was produced by Nick Saffell, James Dolan and Naomi Clements-Brod. Annie Thwaite and Charlotte Zemmel provide crucial research and production support for Series 2.

    • 1 hr 15 min
    What is the future of artificial intelligence?

    What is the future of artificial intelligence?

    Artificial Intelligence can be found in every aspect of our lives. From A-level grade predicting algorithms to Netflix recommendations, AI is set to change the choices we make and how our personal information will be used. In this episode, we explore the future of AI - its potential benefits and harms - with our three guests. Beth Singler told us about the different cultural consequences of AI, and how the way we think about the future of AI reflects more about society today than the future itself. John Zerilli shared his views on the consequences of AI for democratic decision-making, and Richard Watson urged us to conceive of the future of AI in terms of ‘scenario planning’, rather than predicting the future directly. We cover topics ranging from how to make AI ‘ethical’, how the media representation of AI can colour the public’s perception of what the real issues are, and the importance of an international AI regulatory system.

    This episode was produced by Nick Saffell, James Dolan and Naomi Clements-Brod. Annie Thwaite and Charlotte Zemmel provide crucial research and production support for Series 2.

    • 1 hr 5 min
    What would a more just future look like?

    What would a more just future look like?

    Our society is more unequal than ever, as the top 1% control over 44% of the world’s wealth while 689 million people are living on less than $1.90 per day. In this episode, we asked our guests what the future of fairness, justice, and equality should look like, and how their research can help to bring about a fairer society. Alexa Hagerty and Natalie Jones shared how injustice can be thought of as an existential risk to humanity, while Esra Ozyurek introduced us to the importance of understanding that different people have different needs, making equality insufficient to bring about justice. We cover topics ranging from distributive justice, the virtues and vices of empathy, and the role AI will play in shaping equality in the years to come.

    This episode was produced by Nick Saffell, James Dolan and Naomi Clements-Brod. Annie Thwaite and Charlotte Zemmel provide crucial research and production support for Series 2.

    • 49 min
    What is the future of wellbeing?

    What is the future of wellbeing?

    Our wellbeing is essential to our overall quality of life. But what is wellbeing? Why is it so hard to pin down? How is it different to mental health, and what can we do to understand, measure and improve it? We talked with psychologist and neuroscientist Dr Amy Orben, psychiatrist Dr Tamsin Ford, and welfare economist Dr Mark Fabian to try and get to grips with wellbeing. In doing so, we learnt about the negative (and positive!) effects of the pandemic, how wellbeing differs for children and adults, and the influence of ever-evolving technology on our wellbeing.

    • 1 hr 3 min
    What did the future look like in the past?

    What did the future look like in the past?

    We all have theories about what the future might look like. But what did the future look like in the past? And how have the advent of new technologies altered how people viewed the future? We talked with curator of modern sciences and historian of Victorian science Dr Joshua Nall, professor of Digital Humanities and director of Cambridge Digital Humanities Professor Caroline Bassett, and Junior Research Fellow in the history of artificial intelligence Dr Jonnie Penn in our attempt to understand how the future was thought of in the past. Along the way we discussed utopias and dystopias, the long history of science fiction, and how the future might come back to haunt us!

    • 1 hr 8 min
    What is the future?

    What is the future?

    Hello and welcome back to Mind Over Chatter!

    This second series is all about the future - and in this first episode we’re going to be considering what the future even is… Have you ever wondered how time works? It turns out, the answer is a lot more complicated than we thought.

    Join our wondering and wonderful conversation with philosopher of science Matt Farr, professor of psychology Nicky Clayton, and professor of linguistics and philosophy, Kasia Jaszczolt. We’ll be talking about everything from physics to linguistics… and from broken eggs to Einstein’s theory of relativity.

    This episode was produced by Nick Saffell, James Dolan and Naomi Clements-Brod. Annie Thwaite and Charlotte Zemmel provide crucial research and production support for Series 2.

    [00:00] - Introductions

    [02:10] - A bit about the guests’ research

    [04:28] - Does time actually go from past to present to future? And does time really ‘flow’?

    [06:04] - The A-theory of time and John McTaggart Ellis McTaggart

    [07:53] - The B-theory and C-theory of time (and a little bit more about the A-theory too)

    [09:53] - How do B-theorists deal with entropy? Can you un-break an egg?

    [10:44] - The difference between the A-theory, B-theory and C-theory of time - does time have a direction? And does energy/entropy have a direction?

    [14:12] - Recap of the first portion of the episode, reviewing A-theory, B-theory and C-theory of time

    [18:58] - How the mind understands the subjective concept of time

    [24:24] - How languages talk about time differently and why these differences matter

    [27:11] - The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis and how the way you talk about language affects the way you perceive and think about things

    [30:21] - Recap of the second portion of the episode

    [34:02] - How do the mental and linguistic concepts around time fit with philosophical concepts and physics of time?

    [40:45] - How mental time travel works and how thinking about the past is different to thinking about the future

    [41:40] - All biological organisms are subject to the laws of thermodynamics so we can’t remember the future or act towards the past

    [42:55] - Cultural and linguistic differences in mental time travel and whether the past is behind us or in front of us

    [45:46] - Is there a conflict between the psychological and linguistic models of time and the way physics handles time?

    [48:20] - Recap of the last portion of the episode

    [52:44] - Closing and thank you’s

    If you want some more information about the different theories of time we discussed in this episode, this article by Matt helped us understand some of what was said: https://aeon.co/essays/the-c-theory-of-time-asks-if-time-really-has-a-direction

    GUEST BIOS

    Prof Kasia Jaszczolt @KJaszczolt

    Prof Kasia Jaszczolt is a linguist and philosopher of language, interested in meaning in language, in the mind, and in conversation – how it is composed and conveyed.

    She has written five books (most of them for Oxford University Press) and over 90 articles on these topics. Some of her favourite research topics include time in language and thought and their relation to ‘real’ time, semantic ambiguities, theories of meaning and communication, and representing beliefs. She gives lectures and seminars on these topics and always enjoys talking to students of all levels (undergraduate, MPhil and PhD) who share her enthusiasm for the study of meaning.

    Dr Matt Farr @philosofarr

    Matt is a philosopher of science at the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge. He works on various philosophical problems concerning time, causation and explanation, particularly what it means for time to have a direction.

    Prof Nicky Clayton @nickyclayton22

    Nicky is Professor of Comparative Cognition in the Department of Psychology at the University of Cambridge, a Fellow of Clare College and a F

    • 53 min

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