Coda Currents illuminates the trends shaping our world and puts them in context. From disinformation and the power of conspiracy theories to authoritarian tech and the rise of surveillance to the war on science and the influence of pseudoscience, we focus on the overarching stories that are poised to dominate our politics and our lives for years to come. Each week, Coda Story journalists show how these global trends impact you and communities around the world. You’ll hear international stories you won’t find anywhere else and see connections you never knew existed.
The ‘seductive surveillance’ of voice recognition
Surveillance can often be tough to spot amidst the benefits of technology. For a decade or so, companies have been using voice recognition software to help direct customer service calls. But they’ve also been selling it to us under the guise of convenience. Think Siri in your car, Alexa in your kitchen. But what are they doing with all that voice data they collect? We spoke with Joseph Turow, the author of The Voice Catchers, about how companies want to know us better than we know ourselves.
Second Generation QAnon
QAnon has not disappeared since Donald Trump left office. It’s simply adapted, in part to avoid crackdowns on mainstream social media platforms. But the catchphrases that we typically associate with QAnon are becoming less common online.
Out of the anti-vaccine rabbit hole
Many people who get caught up in anti-vaccine theories don't pull themselves out. But there are a few exceptions. These people do something that doesn’t come easy to many of us. They change their minds. Coda Story’s Isobel Cockerell speaks with one woman about leaving the anti-vaccine community. Plus, there are billions of dollars to be made off of pseudoscience and anti-vaccine propaganda. So who’s making it?.
Who’s behind a troll network spreading election disinfo?
Between Covid-19 and election conspiracy theories, it feels like the golden age of disinformation. A massive disinfo network might have ties to Steve Bannon’s close associate and teaches us that disinfo online is a lot more coordinated than you might think. Plus fringe anti-censorship platforms are cropping up in Latvia, Poland and Hungary and Covid skeptics and far-right voices are quick to join.
The problem with facial recognition bans
Reining in surveillance is an uphill battle, no matter where you go in the world. Europe has a plan for regulating AI and biometric mass surveillance, but it’s full of holes and exemptions. North Carolina gave police real time access to people’s cell phone location data without a warrant. So how do you put guardrails surveillance tech that are actually effective? Host Caitlin Thompson talked with Albert Fox Cahn of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project. He has some ideas.
India’s teens track down Covid supplies; Mexico wants a list of cell phone users
India’s healthcare system is struggling to stay afloat as Covid-19 cases continue to rise. So young people are using social media to help total strangers find oxygen and hospital beds. We talk to them about what’s on their minds as the government tries to erase criticism of its Covid response from Twitter. Plus, Mexico wants to build a massive government database of cell phone users’ biometric data.
Always learn something new. Excellent host.
This is a great, thorough podcast that dissects topics I haven’t seen covered much in other outlets in a highly digestible ways. So interesting and always stimulating!