163 episodes

Aleks Krotoski explores the digital world

The Digital Human BBC Radio 4

    • Technology
    • 4.7 • 147 Ratings

Aleks Krotoski explores the digital world

    Schadenfreude

    Schadenfreude

    What’s going on when we scroll through our social feeds finding momentary happiness in the mishaps of celebrities or politicians whose views we dislike? Or delight in the stupidity of everyday people on 'epic fail' sites? Aleks Krotoski explores whether our digital habits, alongside increasingly polarised attitudes, have ushered in a new age of schadenfreude... and asks if this is always a bad thing?

    Aleks hears from author Tiffany Watt Smith who suggests that, whilst schadenfreude is not a new emotion, online platorms may create the perfect conditions for it to flourish; Dr Lea Boecker suggests schadenfreude may have an important role in boosting self-esteem and encouraging group cohesion; fail video aficionado Olly Browning confesses the particular frisson of schadenfreude he feels when justice is served; whilst researcher Emily Cross shares the results of her recent experiments measuring levels of schadenfreude felt towards robots; and Dr Sa-Kiera Hudson invites us to consider whether schadenfreude is always a passive emotion or whether its addictive qualities might sometimes lead to harmful behaviours towards marginalised groups.

    Producer: Lynsey Moyes
    Researcher: Juliet Conway

    • 29 min
    Implant

    Implant

    Imagine being able to fix a malfunction in your body with a programmable smart device implanted deep inside your body… The device senses, monitors and responds to your condition in real time and provides updates and analysis on your phone.

    In the past few years, we’ve seen a boom in health apps and wearable smart devices offering personalised and real time analysis of our daily lives. It’s one thing putting on a wearable smart device - but what does it take to trust one implanted inside your body?

    From continuous glucose monitoring for diabetics to invasive surgery implanting electrodes on the spinal cord or in the brain, Aleks Krotoski asks how a closer relationship with implanted health technology can affect our trust; from our faith in device functionality, security, and longevity, to our trust of ourselves, be it our agency, identity and intuition to read our own bodies.

    Produced by Jac Phillimore

    • 28 min
    Implant

    Implant

    Aleks Krotoski asks how far we can trust digital technology implanted in our bodies

    • 28 min
    Bona Fide

    Bona Fide

    Aleks was once asked by a friend to track down an invisible man - a character with no digital footprint at all. How does someone not exist in this media-saturated moment, and why does that make it seem like he has something to hide?

    Find the right balance between personal privacy and personal transparency, Aleks speaks with information security professionals who hunt for bad guys by puzzling together the pieces of leaked databases and hacked accounts, digital analysts who peer into our devices to catch us out when we’re acting out of character, and undercover operatives who build believable online legends to slip unnoticed into the daily life of the internet. As we grapple with what it means to be able to edit our personal histories in an age when every moment of our lives is expected to be available at the click of a button, how do we demonstrate that beyond a shadow of a doubt, a fake person is real?

    In this episode, Aleks stumbles over the line between fiction and reality to see what the people scrubbing themselves clean and the people fabricating entirely new personas can tell us about what we expect a human being to be.

    • 29 min
    Disinhibition

    Disinhibition

    Aleks Krotoski explores whether disinhibition, often associated with toxic online behaviours such as trolling, may also have benefits in our digital world?

    Since the early days of the internet, research into disinhibition, including John Suler’s much-cited paper on the ‘online disinhibition effect’ has recognised that benign disinhibition not only exists alongside toxic but deserves equal consideration. Yet somehow, our fascination with the negative often drowns out more nuanced perspectives. In this episode of the Digital Human, Aleks investigates scenarios where disinhibition might be helpful, examines factors which positively facilitate it and asks whether assumptions that aggressive online behaviours are a result of disinhibition might be a misdiagnosis of the problem.

    Producer: Lynsey Moyes
    Researcher: Juliet Conway

    Contributor Biographies:

    Ani de la Prida is a psychotherapist and creative arts counsellor and teaches at the University of East London, where she did her master's degree research on the use of digital media in arts therapy. Ani also the founder and course director of the Association for Person-Centred Creative Arts.

    Tom Postmes is professor of Social Psychology at the University of Groningen. He completed his PhD at the University of Amsterdam. In his research Postmes shows how everyday interactions can lead to such collective behaviour.

    Judith Donath is a writer, designer and artist whose work examines how new technologies transform the social world. Author of The Social Machine (MIT Press, 2014), she is currently writing a book about technology, trust and deception.

    Caitlin McGrane is a feminist activist, researcher and academic based in Melbourne, Australia. She works for Gender Equity Victoria leading a project enhancing online safety for women working in the media.

    Catherine Renton is a freelance writer and culture reviewer based in Edinburgh.

    • 27 min
    Paradigm

    Paradigm

    Humans are special creatures, in part because of our relationship with out technology. Our brains are not purely biological, we actually think through our tools. Over centuries, things like the telescope have allowed us to view and understand the secrets of the universe, film and computation has allowed us to manipulate time to see hidden patterns of the world, Augmented and Virtual Reality is allowing us to shape our perception of the world, and Machine Learning could open up boundless untapped knowledge we’ve never been able to process.

    But in the digital age, the rate of change is happening so quickly, we don’t notice it day to day. We’re so busy we don’t stop to examine, or appreciate, how technology might change the paradigm of the world we all live in.

    In this episode, Aleks explores some of the technology that has radically changed how humans experience the universe, and learns how we can prepare to adapt to the next technologies that could forever change the world.

    Producer Elizabeth Ann Duffy, Researcher Juliet Conway, Engineer, Malcolm Torrie.

    • 29 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
147 Ratings

147 Ratings

Hipster Werewolf ,

Brilliant

Some of the most interesting and thought-provoking insight into how technology impacts our lives.

lovealways# ,

Between

Our space is created by so much prior history and how we have processed these life events. But we are increasingly lone wolf well I speak for myself But your right the invisible space is fluid in virtual landscape It as though it fills the voids created by the human space battle. As humans we are in need of connection that stretches beyond the self. The between is collection of humanity our feeling self only some will know and touch the space It is the only thing we have that we can contain and control like food the between is fed or starved or over indulged , some more able than others to cope the between. But in virtual world your free until the other becomes warped and attacks and the between feels unsafe and you recoil - in the silence

clittlew ,

Love this podcast

I’m not that interested in tech but I love this podcast. It creates a great soundscape which makes it lovely to listen to. On top of that there is really interesting and thought provoking content. You can’t really go wrong with this podcast!

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