From the lab to your ears—join Chris Richardson in the places and minds where ideas are born, nurtured, and shared. Each episode discusses an idea that is changing how we think and act.
Winning the information war
Imran Ahmed is the founder and CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH). The Center tackles identity-based hate, misinformation, extremism, fake news, trolling, and how these things can polarise societies and undermine democracy.
In this episode we talk about some of the Center’s recent successes, the power and risks of deplatforming bad actors, and the social media platforms as a public square. We also discuss the role of big tech platforms in content moderation, erosion of our trust in institutions, and the need for us all to take responsibility with the content we choose to share.
To find out more about the Center for Countering Digital Hate, including their Stop Funding Fake News campaign, visit counterhate.co.uk.
Hello and welcome back to WonderLabs! We are back in London and expanding the show beyond science and technology—to the places and minds where ideas are born, nurtured and shared. Before we get into Season 3, check out this introduction to find out what's in store.
In conversation with Jim Smith
Sir Jim Smith is Head of the Wellcome Science Review and Group Leader at the Francis Crick Institute’s Developmental Biology Laboratory. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society and was knighted in 2017 for services to medical research and science education.
In this episode we talk about Sir Jim’s work on embryonic development, using frogs as a model organism, and how this work might lead to stem cell therapies for humans. Moving beyond his science, we talk about his role in deciding who gets funding, how science can be made more collaborative, and how to think about diversity in STEM beyond just the people involved.
This episode is part of a longer conversation I had with Sir Jim at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST). The full conversation is the first episode of the OIST Podcast, a new show discussing the latest from the university’s scientists and distinguished guests. Go and check out the other episodes!
If you’d like to get in touch with Sir Jim to continue the discussion, you can find him on Twitter @ProfJimSmith.
Honeybees, mites, and colony collapse
Dr Maeva Techer is a biologist looking at Varroa mites, a global parasite of honeybees with an important role in colony collapse disorder. Dr Techer uses genome sequencing to understand how the parasite has been able to jump between hosts so successfully.
In this episode we talk about the Varroa mite, the deadly viruses it carries, its impact on beekeeping - and what honeybees might do to defend themselves. We talk about life in the field (getting Italian bees drunk and high on sugar), some unexpected pollinator friends, and an exciting new project cleverly using honeybees to save coral reefs…
To see more from Dr Techer and the rest of her team, including research papers and laboratory protocols, head to homologo.us.
Linguistics, meaning, and 'endangered' languages
Professor Chris Davis is a linguist, semanticist, and pragmatician at the University of the Ryukyus who looks at how languages convey meaning and how people use them. He also looks at Yaeyaman, one of the “endangered” Ryukyuan languages spoken in Okinawa Prefecture.
In this episode we talk about his work in Okinawa, the scientific and cultural value in understanding languages, and some considerations for ethical fieldwork. We also discuss broader linguistics topics including political correctness, freedom of speech, implicit meanings, some dubious animal language acquisition studies, and a fun new field called Pokémonastics.
To see more from Professor Davis, including his recent papers and fieldwork videos, visit cmdavis.org. To find out more about Pokémonastics visit 1stpokemonastics.wordpress.com.
Nadine Wirkuttis is a cognitive neuroroboticist using humanoid robots to understand human social interaction. She is not building social robots(!), but rather using robots as a tool to understand how higher cognitive functions arise during critical learning periods.
In this episode we discuss Nadine’s work on robot-robot interaction, and what it can teach us about ourselves. We also look at algorithms as black boxes, the challenge of explainability once we start deploying these technologies, and some present and future applications including patient care. Oh, and we also consider the implications of robots learning how to lie.
To see Nadine’s robots in action, head over to the movies section at groups.oist.jp/cnru, where you can also explore recent publications and other projects.