Raw Data

By Stanford and PRX

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 Oct 9, 2018


We’ve entered a new era. The creation and collection of information plays an ever-increasing — yet often hidden — role in our lives. Algorithms filter all sorts of experiences, from the mundane to the monumental. The fuel that powers and curates these experiences is…data. Data is the new oil; whoever controls data has power. Is this making things better? Worse? Raw Data is a show about how information becomes power. What are the implications for all of us, now that mountains of data are more accessible and malleable than ever?

Episodes post on Thursdays; our first mini-season begins March 21. From Stanford and PRX.

Hosted by Mike Osborne and Andrea Mustain.

Episode Date

Russians posing as Americans. Wild conspiracy theories about political figures. Outright fabrications. All part of Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 elections, certainly. But it turns out this kind of disinformation has been around for decades, since the early days of the Soviet Union. It’s just gotten a lot more powerful, thanks to tech and social media. But to understand what is happening now, we have to understand how we got here: the end of communism in Russia, the rise of democracy, and, ultimately, its demise at the hands of the man behind all this modern-day manipulation — Vladimir Putin. We get a front-row seat to the story with former ambassador to Russia — and a guy who knows about disinformation on a very personal level —  Michael McFaul. First of a three-part series.

Find out more at rawdatapodcast.com

Jun 20, 2019
Climate and Behavior: Warmer Means Worse

Climate change is already reshaping the natural world, but how does it affect human behavior? Economist Marshall Burke is part of a growing field of scientists uncovering interactions between global warming and humanity. The connections are vast: wars, violent crime, suicide rates, and income inequality. The emerging research may have the power to help us adapt...if we choose to pay attention to it.

Find out more at rawdatapodcast.com

Jun 06, 2019
Power Lines

The United States is a pretty divided country; which may just feel like an inevitable product of our times. But it turns out there’s one partisan tool, in particular, that bears at least some of the blame. It’s something that is used behind closed doors, and that, thanks to the power of software and data, has turned into an ever more powerful partisan weapon. One that has now gone so far that some are saying it’s subverting democracy. And without any intervention, there’s no reason to think the situation will change for the better. Has our democracy crossed a line? And if it has, what is to be done?

Find out more at rawdatapodcast.com

May 13, 2019
Titan vs. Titan: A.I. & the Race for Global Supremacy

There’s an epic struggle under way: a challenge to lead the world in A.I. — artificial intelligence. But this space race for the 21st century doesn’t seem to be getting enough attention from at least one of the world’s superpowers — the United States. Futurist Amy Webb tells the story of the world’s leading artificial intelligence companies, and the struggle between East and West in her new book, The Big Nine: How the Tech Titans & Their Thinking Machines Could Warp Humanity. We learn about China’s growing dominance in A.I., and how U.S. companies, in spite of stunning technological innovation, might someday fall behind. What’s at stake is nothing less than the future of power, governance, and freedom.

Find out more at rawdatapodcast.com

May 02, 2019

When we think of killer robots, images of the Terminator, Robocop, and other dystopian movies often spring to mind. These movies usually don’t end well (for the humans, at least). So it seems crazy that we would even consider building machines programmed to kill. On the other hand, some argue that autonomous weapons could save lives on the battlefield. We are not yet living in a world killer robots; but we might be getting close. What goes into the decision to kill? How can we possibly program robots to make the right decisions, given the moral stakes?

Apr 25, 2019
About Us, But Not for Us

Shoshana Zuboff doesn’t mince words when it comes to the data economy. According to Zuboff, author of the recent book *The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, *our very souls are at stake. But the seeds of surveillance capitalism were planted rather innocently, back in the heady days of the dotcom bubble. As Zuboff tells it, it all began with Google. When the young company entered crisis mode, they needed to find new ways to make money. And a whole new economic logic was born — one that has now spread across every sector of the economy, and has invaded every facet of our online lives. Zuboff warns that surveillance capitalism threatens much more than just our privacy.

Apr 11, 2019
Power from the People, Part II: A New Kind of Machine

At the start of the 20th century, the United States Census Bureau was in a bit of a pickle. The electric tabulating machines that had saved the census in 1890 worked beautifully — but they were expensive. And there was only one source: Herman Hollerith (an inventor who helped lay the foundation for IBM). So the census decided to go into business for itself. They started up their own machine shop to, essentially, copy Hollerith’s device. This decision set off a cascade of events that, by the 1950s, set the stage for one of the most important moments in tech history — the birth of an entirely new kind of machine.

Find out more at rawdatapodcast.com

Apr 04, 2019
Power from the People

At the birth of the United States, the new nation faced a problem. How do you make a crazy new idea — power coming not from a king, but from the people — a reality? There was no handbook; the framers of the Constitution had to just kind of make it up. They landed on the idea of a census. You count the people in each state, and apportion power thusly. A great idea, and certainly a totally new one. But also one that, over the centuries, led to a multitude of unforeseen crises. It turned out that, to keep representative democracy on the rails required some technical innovations — and led to the invention of a magnificent, and very significant, machine.

Find out more at rawdatapodcast.com

Mar 21, 2019
Meet Raw Data

On Raw Data, we take a look at the new source of power in the 21st century: data. Whoever controls data has power. But is this making things better? Worse? Raw Data is a show about how information becomes power.

Find out more at rawdatapodcast.com

Mar 07, 2019

Silicon Valley and Washington DC have a showdown when Zuckerberg goes before Congress. Silicon Valley has grown powerful because it advances a vision for how technology will set us free. So what’s missing from the Silicon Valley story?

Jul 26, 2018

Technology is an almost god-like force that acts upon all of humanity. What does it actually want?

Jul 19, 2018

Can democracy survive the internet? What country will take the lead in shaping our online environment – and how?

Jul 12, 2018

The tech giants that control the internet have destroyed 20th century institutions and challenged the role of an independent press. Whither the 4th estate? Susan Athey, Frank Foer.

Jul 05, 2018
All the World's a Stage

Within 15 years, social media has become the dominant force shaping the Valley. What does it mean for individuals around the world and for society at large to be publicly performing in so many aspects of our lives? Andrew Smith, Alice Marwick.

Jun 28, 2018
The Garage

Silicon Valley reveres garage start-ups and the myth of the entrepreneur. But, in the wake of the dotcom crash, power dynamics shift. Have the entrepreneurs, these quintessential American characters,captured too much power? Steve Blank, Sarah Lacy.

Jun 21, 2018
Land of the Free Dotcom

Netscape’s IPO electrifies the dotcom era, and “New Economy” proponents insist that cyberspace will redefine the rules of prosperity. The data economy is born. Guests: Fred Turner, Kevin Kelly, Lou Montulli, Rosanne Siino, Tim Wu.

Jun 07, 2018
The Triple Fence

In the post-Watergate era, two academics battle the NSA and establish the technology that protects our online information. Cryptography remains a fundamental tool, but can it save us from entering a post-privacy world? Guests: Michal Kosinski, Whit Diffie, Marty Hellman, and Henry Corrigan-Gibbs

May 31, 2018
The Looking Glass

The Valley comes of age as the center of innovation and personal computing. Doug Englebart delivers the Mother of All Demos. Steve Jobs makes a fateful visit to Xerox PARC. On The WELL, people learn what it means to socialize online. Guests: Leslie Berlin, John Markoff, and Howard Rheingold.

May 24, 2018
Drop City

Inspired by cybernetics and LSD, Stewart Brand creates the Whole Earth Catalog as a how-to manual for the commune movement. The catalog articulates a philosophy of tech idealism and individual empowerment. Guests: Fred Turner, John Markoff, and Kevin Kelly.

May 17, 2018
Valley of Heart's Delight

Before tech, there were orchards in the “Valley of Heart’s Delight.” Federal funding for Cold War research changes everything, and the semiconductor industry brings silicon to the Valley. The Traitorous Eight create Fairchild Semiconductor. And the weather here is “perfect.” Guests: Daniel Swain, Steve Blank, Margaret O’Mara, Leslie Berlin.

May 10, 2018
Monument to a Dead Child

The seeds of Silicon Valley were sown long ago. The Gold Rush, the railroad barons, the founding of Stanford University, and myths of the American West still echo today.

May 03, 2018

Introducing the series. Silicon Valley’s power: how did we get here?

Apr 26, 2018
Season Finale: The Legal Codes

How are algorithms and data science making their way into the American criminal justice system? The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world, and it’s clear from the statistics that minorities – most notably, black Americans – are locked up at disproportionate rates. So there are good reasons to take a close look at how new technologies are creeping into police departments and courts. Perhaps we can "code" for more equality and fairness by taking some decision making power away from humans and giving it to algorithms...but given this country’s inescapable history of discrimination, do we run the risk of ossifying a system that some describe as “the new Jim Crow?" Thank you so much for listening to this season of Raw Data. This episode is our season finale! We’ll be back in a few months. Please get in touch with feedback and episode ideas anytime at rawdatapodcast@gmail.com. Peace – Leslie & Mike

Jun 27, 2017

There are A LOT of unanswered questions right now about Russia’s role in the 2016 election. Whether it’s actually hacking into the DNC servers or more subtly spreading misinformation online, there’s widespread meddling afoot. Online information was weaponized in a targeted way, and this is new. In today’s episode, we think critically about what cybersecurity means and how Russia’s recent history brought us to this moment.

May 19, 2017
Newer Money

It's been a minute since we've checked in on the world's favorite cryptocurrency – Bitcoin! And man oh man is there a lot of upheaval in Bitcoin-land. The price is soaring, the SEC is debating, and other crypto-coins are on the move. Will Bitcoin and other blockchains pave the way for a new financial system, a global computer, a new and better “Internet of value,” or all of the above? Hard to know what happens next, but keep an eye out. Bitcoin is lurking...

Apr 02, 2017
Propaganda Armies

Let’s face it – there’s a lot of bulls**t flying around on the Internet. But where is it all coming from? This week, we tackle fake news, propaganda, and misinformation from a few different angles. We talk to BuzzFeed’s Craig Silverman, who was one of the first reporters to break the story about a cottage industry of fake news run out of Macedonia. Then we meet Stanford Communication Professor Jennifer Pan, who is pioneering new ways of probing the censorship and propaganda machine in China. Throughout the episode, Jeff Hancock, a Stanford expert on trust and technology, helps us understand how all of us are being shaped by the new information economy. Craig Silverman's BuzzFeed article: http://bzfd.it/2lisq7J Jennifer Pan's website: http://jenpan.com/ Jeff Hancock's website: http://jeff-hancock.com/ Learn more about Worldview Stanford's Science of Decision Making course: http://stanford.io/2mfYxJE

Feb 24, 2017
A New Day in Hollywood

There are massive changes underway in Hollywood – and a lot of the disruption is being driven by big data. In this week’s episode, we’re taking a deep dive into the ways companies like Netflix and Amazon are mounting a threat to the traditional studio powerhouses (think Disney, Sony, etc.) We meet Michael Smith, a professor at Carnegie Mellon who tells us about the “perfect storm” of tech forces hitting Hollywood. For more insight on how exactly Netflix is using customer data, we talk to their director of content science and algorithms, Todd Holloway. We take a peek into the inner workings of this new entertainment industry and how it’s creating the current golden age of binge-worthy entertainment.

Jan 30, 2017
Attention is Money

On the Internet there’s a never-ending, epic battle to catch – and keep – your attention. We don't really think about it much, but attention is a precious and personal resource, and these days the name of the game is to monetize your attention through clicks and shares. Today on the show, we talk to Tim Wu, author of "The Attention Merchants." He explains how attention is the essential currency of the Internet, and that the stakes are not merely an ad-filled online experience, but in fact our very ability to preserve and independently determine our own mental spaces. We also chat with Byron Reeves, a Stanford professor whose research involves taking a screenshot of participants’ laptops every – five – seconds. This unprecedented view into where we go when we go online, and how we move around, will make you wonder how we ever get anything done.

Dec 20, 2016
Data Confidential

It’s nearly impossible to know if you're having a truly private, unmonitored conversation today. Big data and online communications open the door for widespread surveillance. But even if you feel like you personally have nothing to hide, surveillance is about much more than individual privacy – it’s about the necessary conditions of a free and just society, and protecting a space to criticize the status quo and the powers that be. Today on the show, we hear three perspectives about how privacy is fundamental to free speech and freedom of the press, and how those foundations of democracy are being shaken and pushed by government surveillance programs.

Dec 13, 2016
Gold or Pyrite?

Welcome to Season 2 of Raw Data! There's been a lot of buzz about big data in the past few years. The success of companies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon has helped fuel the growth of second generation data companies seeking insights in data like miners hoping to strike gold. But is all this data we’re collecting really that valuable? What will our daily lives be like if the big data promise is fulfilled – or for that matter, if it fails? Music: “From the Outset,” (Raw Data theme) Nick Carlozzi “Gentle Whispering (radio edit)”, Lee Rosevere “White Lotus,” Kevin MacLeod

Nov 29, 2016
Upon Reflection: Season 1

We’ve reached the end of Season 1 of Raw Data! (Don’t worry, there’s a second season coming soon.) In this episode, producers Mike and Leslie break from the usual format, and sit down in studio for a conversation with Worldview Director Brie Linkenhoker. They reflect on the big ideas, issues, and questions that cut across Season 1, especially as it relates to how our everyday decisions – both big and small – are increasingly being shaped by data and algorithms.

May 24, 2016
Episode 11: So... What's On Your Mind?

Language is a window into our minds. So with all the digital text trails we're creating these days, what can we learn about our inner psychology, mental health, and well-being? In this episode: how Twitter language correlates with heart disease, what insights can be captured in crisis counseling text conversations, and a glimpse of the future of therapy.

Apr 05, 2016
Episode 10: Love

LOVE!! Why is it so hard to find?! The seemingly endless options of online dating should make it easy, right? Is there data that can predict lasting love? Argh!! Maybe we just haven’t digitized the right information yet? Who knows. So many questions.

Mar 21, 2016
Episode 9: The Digital Afterlife

What happens to our data when we die? Digital estate planning is becoming an increasingly important topic, though many of our laws have not yet caught up. These days, we leave behind entire histories of our lives online, which can hold both monetary and sentimental value for our family and friends. Through the lens of death, we can also begin to appreciate the value of our digital histories for civil society more broadly.

Mar 03, 2016
Episode 8: All the News That's Fit to Feed

How do you get your news – and how do you think your news gets to you? The pathway of information flow involves layers of decisions that in many ways are opaque. So are we achieving the universal access to all knowledge that the early Internet idealists had hoped for, or are we increasingly seeing the world through filters that we're not even aware of?

Feb 11, 2016
Episode 7: The Big Data of Nature

As we hear over and over again, environmental issues are mounting, and the stakes are huge. So how might big data be used to tackle the issues of sustainability, climate change, habitat loss, and species extinction? And even more than that, can it offer us new ways of engaging in a relationship with nature?

Jan 27, 2016
Episode 6: Under the Influence

Are we addicted to the Internet? Is it even appropriate to use the language of addiction about smartphones and other digital devices? After all, tech companies intentionally appeal to human nature – our desire to connect with others, our boredom, our love of surprise, our loneliness – to hook us onto their products. So how much responsibility do they hold in all this?

Dec 21, 2015
Episode 5: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Data

Elections and political messaging are changing in the new media landscape. Campaigns are using big data to target voters with better precision, and tech companies are making decisions behind the scenes about how political information is being presented to us. What does all this mean for the future of democracy? This podcast is supported by Worldview Stanford and the Stanford Cyber Initiative.

Nov 24, 2015
Episode 4: New Money

Cryptocurrencies could revolutionize money and finance. But even more than that, they symbolize how trust is changing as we increasingly rely on technology rather than traditional institutions - like banks and governments - to handle some of our most important problems. Right now, money has only been partially digitized, and it plods around the world at a snail's pace compared to how fast data moves. But all that could change with truly digital cryptocurrencies. This podcast is supported by Worldview Stanford and the Stanford Cyber Initiative.

Nov 03, 2015
Episode 3: The Hippocratic Algorithm

Big data is revolutionizing health and medicine, from genomics to wearable technologies to precision health. But is our medical care system prepared for algorithms that can diagnose us and make decisions about treatment? And even more than that, what will the doctor-patient relationship look like in the era of big data?

Oct 20, 2015
Episode 2: Work in the Crowd

What is the future of work? Today, all of our careers are being transformed by big data, from how we find it, to how we collaborate with others, to how our professional reputations are shaped. We explore both the opportunities and risks of moving our work online. This podcast is supported by Worldview Stanford and the Stanford Cyber Initiative.

Oct 06, 2015
Episode 1: Uploaded

Welcome to Raw Data! In this first episode, hosts Mike Osborne and Leslie Chang explore how normal, everyday digital footprints can reveal surprisingly intimate facts – like whether your parents are divorced, and whether you own a gun. This podcast is supported by Worldview Stanford and the Stanford Cyber Initiative.

Sep 16, 2015