The Digital Human

The Digital Human

By BBC Radio 4

Aleks Krotoski explores the digital world


Update from the Digital Human Team

The Digital Human is pausing to focus on what everyone's talking about - AI. Join Aleks and her co-host Kevin Fong for The Artifical Human from BBC Radio 4, listen on BBC Sounds.
19/02/241m 7s


‘I asked myself this very question after a family member was affected by dementia. In her later years, the only person my grandmother still remembered was her husband – but he had passed away several years earlier. She asked about him every morning and finding out that he had died always upset her greatly.’ - Thomas Nørmark.Thomas Nørmark Dementia is a cruel and complex illness, one that robs individuals of their cognitive abilities, independence, and memories. The NHS website reports that in the UK alone, there are now over 944,000 people living with dementia, and this number continues to rise as our population ages.While there is no cure for dementia, emerging technological breakthroughs hold the promise of more personalised treatment plans, the potential to enhance the quality of life for longer periods, and the ability to provide much-needed respite and comfort to the caregivers of those affected.In this episode of Digital Human, Aleks explores some of the nascent AI tools that could help people living with dementia: AMPER, an AI programme designed to aid in Reminiscence therapy, helping people to remain independent for as long as possible. Moments, an app that creates timelines of memories, music, and photos that can be shared with clinical staff, so they can get to know who the person was before the disease took hold, meaning they can tailor care more effectively.And a radical proposition of creating Digital Avatars of loved ones that offer support and reassurance to people who no longer remember that that loved one has already passed away - saving family members from the emotional strain of having to pretend to be someone else, to keep the person they love happy.Aleks will explore not only how these technological developments will benefit people in the next few decades, but also the ethical complexities that arise in ensuring the well being and security of vulnerable users.
13/11/2329m 4s


Aleks Krotoski explores a story which sought to be forgotten, but wasn't. Agrippa (A Book of the Dead), was published in 1992. It was a book designed to decay from its very first use. It was an unusual conceit, and played into our fears about malfunctioning technology ahead of the dawning millennium. The book was created by publisher Kevin Begos Jr, artist Dennis Ashbaugh and writer William Gibson. The writing – a 302 line poem – was stored on a floppy disc within the publication. It would lock after play, meaning the user could experience the work only once. Dennis Ashbaugh’s art work was similarly motivated. His images distorted if touched. These qualities tied in with Agrippa’s dominant theme. Gibson’s poem centred on the loss of his father. The name Agrippa (A Book of the Dead) referred to the photo album in his family home. It was produced by Kodak, and the particular volume was called Agrippa. Inside the album, there were visual reminders of all those who’d gone before. They provided memories, of sorts, for Gibson, and his autobiographical poem centres on those images. With thanks to The Bodleian Library in Oxford, and to all of our contributors in this programme: Justine Provino, Dr Huw Twiston Davies, Dr Chris Fletcher, Professor Maureen Ritchey and Dr Laura King. Presenter: Aleks Krotoski Producer: Victoria McArthur Researcher: Juliet Conway
06/11/2327m 57s


Emails from friends should be safe. From a trusted friend especially. Hey, Aleks, check out this cool attachment. The message is a bit brief, sure, but you check that it isn’t a phishing account masquerading as a friend, it doesn’t seem like a hack. And the image, Smile.JPG, sounds like it might be something silly but cute. So ok, you open it up.And you see… dog… smiling. A smiling dog, with human teeth.Now the dog haunts your dreams, with it’s terrible human but inhuman smile, promising to leave you be if only you’d ‘spread the word’.For this Halloween Aleks traces the origin of curses in the online world, discovering what Smile Dog reveals about our subconscious fears, our own culpability in sharing anything and everything online, and how the evolution, and disintegration, of this iconic curse sheds light onto something deeper - the rot of the internet itself, and the possibility that we may all now exist within a cursed internet.
30/10/2328m 51s


Aleks Krotoski explores culture jamming in the digital world. Once used by "communications guerillas" to subvert corporate advertising, it's now taken on a new life online...
23/10/2328m 8s


Aleks Krotoski explores how matchmaking in the future will be influenced both by the emerging tech and our attitude towards it. Have we reached the point where the disposable mindset encouraged by certain dating apps is unappealing for today’s singletons? Many users get over dating fatigue by taking a break from apps altogether but the continued emergence of new platforms suggests that our search for love isn’t moving entirely offline. Whilst some companies are adapting so that users can spend more time on actual dates than online chats, others are harnessing the growing sophistication of AI as a dating coach or even, in some cases, outsourcing that awkward early chat altogether. Dishonest? Or an acceptable tool to enable positive self-presentation?S Shyam Sundar suggests that online etiquette is evolving and the use of AI chatbots could become ‘a mutually accepted social lie we tell ourselves’; Ben Hanney explains why he launched his own dating app 'tbc' after becoming disillusioned by ‘swipe-right’ models; mental health activist Blezzing Dada shares a cautionary dating tale and urges consideration of intersectionality when developing new dating models; and, at Ireland's Lisdoonvarna matchmaking festival we meet Willie Daly, who hails from a long line of matchmakers, providing reassurance to nervous singletons, initiating gentle introductions and adding a dash of magic with his ‘lucky love book’. Could these raw ingredients be distilled to enhance our online interactions: boosting self-esteem and social confidence or simply introducing more fun into what has become a laboured process?Producer: Lynsey Moyes Researcher: Anna Miles
16/10/2328m 21s


With the rush of generative AI, we have the capacity to create synthetic companions that seem more human than ever before. They can talk in real time, and with enough user input can be moulded into a perfect friend - sharing your interests, build with a custom personality that you enjoy, and always available to talk for a brief chat, or to unleash some 3am anxiety upon, without burdening a real human friend. They have the potential to provide some psychological benefit to people. But, there are concerns. What if the company behind such an AI companion suddenly changed the terms of service, what if your carefully crafted Synthetic Companion wasn't themselves anymore, or stopped responding in a way that met the users needs?This happened in early 2023, when Replika, one of the biggest AI Companion apps decided to ban all adult content, without informing their users. The Big Change, as it came to be known, set the Replika community on fire, and showed how issues of control, expectations and the human propensity to project human attributes onto our machines can come back to bite us.Yet, we should have already known this. Tech developers trying to sell their new shiny product will tell you that it's never been seen before. But we've been using technology to create fake humans to interact with for more than a century.In this episode, Aleks looks to some Synthetic Humans of the past, to understand why people bond so readily with them, and how going forward into a future where we are likely going to have AI Humans all around us, we can insure that they serve our needs and do no harm to the end user.
09/10/2329m 8s


Aleks Krotoski looks into the digital world. In this episode, we explore why people are rejecting a traditional relationship with tech, jobs and societal pressures.In addition to the post-pandemic 'Great Resignation', where millions of people quit their jobs to either take early-retirement, or to tackle something less stressful and demanding, we're seeing a broader international pushback to the traditional 'cult of work'. In China, the 'lying flat' movement offered another version of 'quiet quitting'. Essentially, both trends saw people place greater value on their lives than their career. 'Bai Lan' is an extension of that, and means 'let it rot', or 'bed rotting' as it's also known. This means rejecting gruelling competiton for a low-desire life, and being happy with that decision. Elsewhere, others are opting out of tech. Whether this means ditching a smartphone for a 'simple phone' or disconnecting from the web altogether, there's a definite movement towards re-writing the rules of engagement in terms of contemporary life and work.
26/06/2328m 56s


Our tech future will supposedly be defined by megaprojects. The most attention grabbing ideas include physical Megacities like ‘The Line’ in Saudi Arabia, or Telosa in the United States, and on the digital side of things, we have the Metaverse. These are both supposed to be the new places we will work, play, love and create - sweeping aside past cities and online communities to become a utopian place for everyone to gather, and live a better way.But even as the foundations are laid… we seem to have moved on. The Metaverse has been roundly mocked and dismissed, with people deriding VR zoom meetings and legless avatars. While the very feasibility, and morality, of megacity projects has been questioned from their inception - comparisons to all manner of sci-fi dystopias abound. Aleks explores if promised tech utopias will inevitably become crumbling follies, why we get swept up in the narrative of a single tech genius who carves out the future for us all, and if the cycle of hype we have all been swept up in is disrupting our ability to indulge in slower iterations, which could actually lead us to a brighter tech future for us all.
19/06/2328m 52s


We’ve all seen those TV programmes (and perhaps shed a tear) when long lost family members are reunited. Who doesn’t love a fairytale ending? Making those connections nowadays is simpler and faster than ever, thanks to a combination of DNA testing, digital records and the ease of gathering information and communicating online. But do these huge leaps forward we’ve experienced in science and technology mean that, sometimes, things can move a bit too quickly for us to process. Reunions don’t always involve a happy ending and can be complicated emotionally. So just because we can track someone down, does that always mean that we should? Aleks Krotoski meets five adoptees navigating aspects of reunion.Producer: Lynsey Moyes Researcher: Anna Miles
12/06/2328m 11s


They were ubiquitous - taped onto magazines covers, bursting out of overstuffed office cabinet drawers, used to hold everything from secret family recipes, to photo albums, to legal documents, operating systems; anything you could cram on 1.4mb of storage was contained on floppy disks.After a 40 year career as the go to storage method of, even gateway to, the digital world, they were declared effectively obsolete. But are they?Aleks discovers some of the last people to be trading in, and experimenting with, floppy disks. She finds out which industries still depend on them, how artists are repurposing them, and how they birthed a new niche genre of music - despite never having been a means for storing or creating music in their heyday.Why is it only when a technology falls into obscurity that we test its boundaries, and how can floppy disks guide us in our relationship with technology in a future world of unbridled, unlimited, data.
05/06/2329m 3s

The Orbital Human

Now the fanfare of billionaires space adventures has died down we're left with the question of are we witnessing a new democratisation of space not unlike the revolution that brought us the modern digital world?Aleks Krotoski asks if the legions of amateurs and innovators working out of bedrooms and garages are about to fundamentally change our relationship with space. And will that be a continuation of the idealism of early pioneers or a repeat of the unregulated, disruptive free-for-all that the internet has largely become.From the NASA retirees who reactivated a space probe from an abandoned MacDonalds to the kids building operational satellites in their after school clubs the face of space is about to change forever. Producer: Peter McManus Researcher: Anna Miles Sound Engineer: Gav Murchie
29/05/2330m 56s


We have been in an odd dialogue with algorithms from the very inception of the internet. They have been trained to spot offensive words, with the goal of allowing civilized conversation while avoiding trolls, spam adverts and hate speech.But, many of our online spaces now moderate content to suit the needs of advertisers. This can mean a lot of people, especially those from marginalized communities, those with alternative or dissident views, or even a-typically creative people, are silenced - and so valuable voices, and conversations could be lost.But humans are very good with language, better than any algorithm developed until now, and we have always found ways to hack around constraints. The latest instrument in this linguistic arms race? Algospeak.Aleks explores the rise of this new form of social media language, discovers how and why black and queer communities are disproportionately silenced by ‘Ad-safe’ algorithms, and finds out that some of the most effective techniques that could allow us to circumvent AI censorship are rooted in the language of people that had to communicate, and mask themselves, with code, long before the digital world existed.
22/05/2328m 51s


"Right now, and I mean this instant, delete every digital trace of any menstrual tracking. Please." This is a tweet that went viral in the wake of the repeal of Roe V Wade in the United States. Fearing a clamp down on reproductive rights, suddenly people were looking at their online data in a very new way. What does my fitness app say about the state of my body? What could be divined from the details of what I bought? What about the data of the people around me?This is not the first time a sudden social or political change has thrown up potential problems of big data. But now we live in a world of data brokers, thousands of companies collecting, collating and sharing data around the world - and the data related to pregnancy is the most valuable of the lot. Which means, if there is a sudden change in reproductive rights, there’s a lot of data that could be mined for information if a broker sells it on.Aleks explores what happens when freely given data suddenly becomes dangerous, if it’s possible to keep any secrets in an online maelstrom of information, and why we keep coming up against this problem again, and again, and again…
27/03/2329m 55s


When the world feels as overwhelming as it has in recent years, it can be hard to fully disengage. Aleks Krotoski discovers the value of retreat, both on and offline.We take a trip to the the Highlands of Scotland, visiting a tiny, powerless bothy on the Inschriach Estate. Writer Dan Richards found that this isolated retreat allowed him to process a traumatic near-death experience when nothing else helped.Artist Laurel Schwulst invites us into the 'Firefly Sanctuary' in Brooklyn, New York. It's her apartment, so it's a personal sanctuary, but it's also a sanctuary for strangers. She shares it online via an appropriately relaxing lo-fi website. It's a sanctuary in a URL.Author and memoirist Katherine May defined her own personal retreat from the world as, 'wintering'. A series of difficult life events pushed her into retreat from the world. At first, she felt overwhelmed by the feeling of the world continuing without her, until she learned to surrender to her own personal 'winter' and saw the value in disconnecting for a while.In East Lothian, a twice-weekly trip to the Macmerry Men's Shed provides a consistent, revitalising sense of retreat. The largely elderly members derive enormous benefits from being seen and seeing others, and their visits allow them to escape from their day-to-day lives and worries, if only for a few hours at a time.Producer: Victoria McArthur Presenter: Aleks Krotoski Researcher: Emily Esson
20/03/2328m 58s


Online and offline, our world is a hugely complex tangle of modern creations and the legacy of the past. As we build upon the shoulders of times gone by, we are in a constant process of assessing what is still useful, what needs to be adapted and what no longer serves us.Aleks looks at the process of salvaging value from the world around us, looking at the pleasure and pain of sifting through the past, the pressures to preserve, how value can evolve over time, the allure of creating from scratch in the face of complex legacy systems and structures, and how treasure is often in the eye of the beholder.Michael Feathers is a software architect and author of Working Effectively with Legacy Code. Over the years, he advised many different companies on the strategic reuse and modernisation of their legacy code and systems. He is currently the Chief Architect for Globant, a global organisation helping companies transform their businesses.Dr James Hunter is a maritime archeologist and curator at the Australian National Maritime Museum. He is also an avid diver. James has excavated sixteenth century Spanish galleons, wrecks from the US civil war and many vessels sunk in World wars. Kate Macdonald is the director of Handheld Press, which republishes texts from the 1920s, 30s and 40s. She has a particular interest in uncovering works that explore lives lived by women, LGBTQ+ and people with physical impairments.Founder of the urban planning consultancy Zvidsky Agency in Ukraine, Alexander Shevchenko has a background in civil engineering and spatial and urban planning. Since 2022, he has set up the non-governmental organisation Restart Ukraine, which supports Ukrainian municipalities with recovery from the impact of 2014 and 2022 conflicts and with tackling urban regeneration fit for modern society’s needs.
13/03/2329m 22s


Ever had that gnawing feeling that there’s some unfinished business you have an itch to resolve? Maybe it’s a friendship you’ve let drift or a task at work left incomplete. Maybe it’s that sense of having too many tabs open at once on your computer. Our hyper-connected modern lives facilitate multi-tasking and the expansion of our social circles, and it could be argued a by-product of this is that we have more unfinished business than we had in the past. In this episode of the Digital Human, Aleks Krotoski asks how might we adapt to this - and whether it always a bad thing.Producer: Lynsey Moyes
06/03/2328m 9s


In recent months anxiety around what algorithms will do to the arts has become a hot topic. Art, Literature, Music, all are being generated by AI systems. Even we explored what these algorithms may do to how art is created - just one episode ago.But, we missed something. Algorithms are not just changing how we create art, they’ve been curating everything we see and hear online for years. But they don't explain why. How have these bits of code reshaped our relationship with culture?In this episode Aleks discovers the very different values and meanings in what a human, or an algorithm chooses to present to us. Unpacks the anxiety of what our raw data tells us about our desires, compared to what we believe about ourselves. Finds out how gaming the algorithm to succeed may result in creative stagnation, and a narrowed view of the world. But also how some algorithms could break us free of the boxes we have been slotted into, if things could be done a little differently.
27/02/2329m 14s


Art has, since time immemorial, been viewed as something quintessentially human. Many utopian visions of a technological future are based on the idea that machines will automate all the mundane, monotonous tasks of life, allowing humanity to fully indulge itself in creative expression. Certainly, artists would not be made obsolete by number crunching machines.But in the past few years, AI Art Generators, specifically Text-to-Art Generators such as MidJourney and Dall-E, have taken the world by storm. Users simply write a prompt, and the Algorithm takes knowledge amassed from images all over the internet, to create beautiful images. A mermaid basking on the shore of Loch, on a moonlit night, in the style of Van Gogh? Done. Cubist Unicorn? Have four. With a little practice, anything you want you can get with the right text?But what does this mean for human artists? We’ve already seen push back from artists worried about their livelihoods, existential worries about human creativity and self-expression, and concerns about the moral and legal issues around masses of artwork being used without consent in order to train AI Generators.In this episode, Aleks explores why art is so core to some people’s existence, why these Generators have such wide appeal, uncovers the story of a pioneer who grappled with the place of human and machine in art making for decades, and finds out why wonky AI may offer the most opportunity for human imagination to bloom.
20/02/2329m 26s


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
14/11/2229m 3s


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
07/11/2228m 39s

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.
31/10/2229m 13s


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 ConwayContributor 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.
24/10/2227m 58s


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.
17/10/2229m 10s


Aleks discovers how the digital world has reshaped social class and the rights of workers, and finds out how those workers are using lessons of the past to redress the balance of power in a world where the giant companies are have grown to be more powerful than nation states.
10/10/2229m 19s


The internet began as an academic tool, made to share information, bring people together and spur on advances that would benefit humans across the world. When it was shared with the masses, the dream was that with enough shared information, enough connection from human to human, we would be able to put aside differences, solve global problems, and prosper more as a species.That didn’t happen.Over the the ten years of Digital Human, we have observed communities sharing harmless, odd beliefs and tongue-in-cheek hoaxes for fun, not realising the same technology would be used to share the kind of malignant lies and trolling that has lead to persecution, murder, and even the storming of the US Capitol. Somewhere along the way, the digital world was flipped on its head, with the giants of social media acting as a hub of misinformation, strife and simmering hostility across political and cultural divides. In hindsight, many people were shocked that so many people would use the technology in ways that went against its original purpose… but it really shouldn’t have come as a surprise.Aleks explores how similar reversals have happened with technology from the time we began to explore mass communication, what lessons we should have learned from the earliest days of online communities, and how as more mature and alert consumers of the internet, we could still make things better.
27/06/2229m 0s


Aleks Krotoski explores what it means to be solitary in our digital world and whether we should be more nuanced in our approach to the complex human emotion of loneliness.To mark the 10th anniversary of the Digital Human, we’ve been reflecting on some of the questions that have stuck with us over the years. When 'Isolation' aired in 2013, the phrase 'loneliness epidemic' often appeared in the press with digital technology regarded as a key culprit in increasing isolation. Aleks interrogated this idea, exploring ways in which technology might facilitate as well as disrupt connection, speaking to inventor Joanna Montgomery whose prototype project 'Pillow Talk' had become an internet sensation.Things shifted during lockdown when enforced separation from loved ones and, conversely, a lack of personal space, effectively mainstreamed loneliness, with technology reframed as an important tool in keeping us connected. In this follow-up programme Aleks wonders what insights the pandemic revealed about loneliness and how we might future-proof ourselves against it? She finds out what happened next for Joanna Montgomery and talks to writer and historian Fay Bound Alberti who suggests that there is a distinction between transitory and chronic loneliness. 'Wellbeing smuggler' Antony Malmo talks about how the language we use around loneliness can be counter-productive whilst Maff Potts of the Camerados movement explains how setting up 'public living rooms' can remove stigma and encourage community connections.Produced by Lynsey Moyes in Edinburgh.Contributors:Joanna Montgomery is an interaction designer, founder of technology company, Little Riot and the creative mind behind the internet phenomenon "Pillow Talk”. Her work explores how humans engage with technology and the impact it has on society.Antony Malmo, Director of Change and Capability at Allos Australia describes himself as a ‘wellbeing smuggler’ and ‘jargon cutter’ and is an accomplished educator across the fields of management, finance, health, engineering and manufacturing. Fay Bound Alberti is a writer, historian and consultant. She is UKRI Future Leaders Fellow and Professor in Modern History at the University of York. Her books include This Mortal Coil (2016) and A Biography of Loneliness (2020). Maff Potts is founder of the Camerados movement which believes that the simple human act of looking after each other can be transformative.
20/06/2228m 7s


Aleks Krotoski asks if we've all become techno-fundamentalists, unquestioningly accepting the latest innovation into our lives without thinking about potential downsides.Perhaps we could learn from a society who think much more carefully and critically about adopting new technology - the Amish. Unlike what many people believe, it's not that they reject technology outright but they make careful community based decisions about they what they permit. It's a thoughtful, democratic and yes scientific approach. They'll see how a modern innovation effects the community by allowing it to be trialled and if they don’t like what they see, they reject it,How many of the negative unintended consequences of digital technology could have been avoided if the rest of us took a page out of their book?
13/06/2228m 43s


Economics has always been complicated, but the day to day stuff was always pretty straightforward. Make money from working, exchange that money for goods and services, save a bit for a rainy day if possible.The online world changed things. Not so long ago, people were afraid to give their banking details to eBay, now people trade in currencies they will never hold in their hands, and are investing in non-fungible tokens.NFTs, put simply, are items that are unique and can’t be replaced with something else. In comparison, a coin would be seen as fungible - traded one penny for another and you still have something worth a penny. NFTs can be traded for different NFTs - like trading cards - or eventually sold off for cash when the owner thinks they can get the best price.Until recently, NFTs have been mostly made up of digital art, some music, even a Jack Dorsey Tweet, but we’re on the cusp of a new era in digital economics, one where everything could be made into a token - the likes and comments you leave on social media, the hobby you dive into on your off time, even your heart, or your mind.Aleks finds out how the digital economy has changed so much in the last decade, and explores a future where everything - from your likes, your hobbies, even your heartbeat - could be Tokenised and up for trade.
06/06/2229m 41s


Aleks Krotoski asks if AI companions will be like imaginary friends of childhood. And if so will they afford the same benefits - making us better, more social human beings. To mark the 10th anniversary of The Digital Human we're answering some of the questions that have stuck with us over the last ten years. In 2017 we spoke to Eugenia Kuyda who used her AI startup in San Francisco to help her create a chatbot version of her late friend Roman. Using all the texts she and her friends had ever received from him they made an AI that could text in voice. But it's where she wanted to take the technology that intrigued us. She wanted to give everyone their own Roman, an AI bot that would be a constant companion, infinitely patient and understanding. It would be taught by the user using their own texts and so would speak to them in their own voice. She called it Replika, and five years on the chatbot has 20 million users across the globe. The idea made us instantly think of imaginary friends from childhood. In this programme Aleks sets out to find out if this is more than an interesting metaphor but perhaps a key way to understanding our relationship with these soon to be pervasive technologies.Producer: Peter McManus
30/05/2229m 6s


This year, The Digital Human celebrates its 10 year anniversary. During that time, we have explored all corners of the digital realm, and told hundreds of stories that have revealed how we as humans have been shaped by the technological world we have created, and what we may become in the future.Some of those stories have always stayed with us, because they have generated more questions - questions that we’ve always wanted to have answered, and in this series, we finally will.In one of our all time fan-favourite episodes, Altruism, we told stories of online kindness, and how the internet could be used to bring out the best of human nature. But in the last decade, we have seen the online environment become more fractious, less community based, and in some cases, outright hostile. Aleks sets out to find out why some online spaces can bring out the best in us, while others the worst, and discovers how we could actually tailor our technology to become a real force for good.
23/05/2229m 18s


Aleks Krotoski explores who owns the function of the devices we use, and why we need the right to repair and hack the things we consume.
28/03/2229m 14s


Aleks Krotoski asks why we're always yearning for next technological solution to our problems?What is it that has driven us to the current, seemingly relentless cycle of innovation. It’s not all explained by consumerism, there appears to be a deeper motivation - as if we’re already half living in an imagined future of ever greater technological possibilities.Is this how we’re evolving, instead of adapting to the world like other species, we’re adapting the world to suit us?Producer: Peter McManus
21/03/2229m 13s


Alexander Lukashenko has proudly called himself 'Europe's last dictator'. He has held power in Belarus since 1994, and has been known to repress opposition with brutal efficiency. In 2020 he was re-elected for his 6th Presidential term in an election US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned was "not free or fair". This resulted in mass protests in the country, which was met with brutal crackdowns - the UN reported multiple violations of human rights, including reports of 450 documented cases of torture and ill-treatment of people who were arrested during the protests following the presidential election. People have vanished, or died, and journalists have even been grabbed off diverted planes, jailed and tortured for publishing about the actions of the regime.However, there is a different kind of activist working to expose the crimes of the government and bring democracy to the country. The Cyber Partisans are a small group, but have become one of the most successful Hacktivist organisations the world has ever seen. They have hijacked government websites, released huge amounts of evidence of corruption and police brutality, and even taken control of the country's rail system - slowing the trains to cause disruption for Russian troops who were making their way through Belarus on route to neighbouring Ukraine. As of yet, Lukashenko's government has not been able to stop their operations, but can these ethical hackers really bring about change in their homeland?Aleks tells the story of the Cyber Partisans, explores how Hacktivism has evolved in the decade since Anonymous hit the headlines in the Western World, and finds out if digital activism can really have an impact in countries ruled by Repressive Regimes where traditional activism can mean death.
14/03/2229m 3s

Folk Wisdom

A special kind of wisdom is transmitted from generation to generation - proverbial knowledge with no basis in fact, but still intuitive: chicken soup cures a cold; live, love, laugh; turn a coin in your pocket in the moonlight to secure a fortune. Proverbs have always helped to answer life’s important questions, and in some cases, this kind of wisdom can save a community from disaster.In the past, traditional knowledge was held by a matriarch or a wise man. When they died, that wisdom went with them. Now, this knowledge has jumped online. But sometimes, the internet doesn’t just preserve tradition; it manipulates it. This wisdom can be used to discredit expertise, and create distrust in institutions.In this episode, Aleks Krotoski asks why we are turning away from experts for answers to life’s important questions, and how looking instead to the advice of strangers on the internet for guidance is leading to alternative truths, and conspiracy.
07/03/2229m 3s


Offline, we as individuals present different sides of ourselves in different situations. We behave very differently with friends, employers, parents, lovers and strangers. But as Social Media Giants like Facebook and Twitter became ubiquitous, suddenly all those different facets of our lives and personalities were compressed into a single space - this has become known as Context Collapse. Aleks Krotoski explores how Context Collapse came to be, the impact it has had on our behaviour and well being, and finds out what it could mean for a potential Metaverse. When the final barrier between offline and online life could be broken down for good, how do we create spaces where we are free to express the different parts of ourselves safely?
28/02/2229m 27s


Aleks Krotoski asks where did all those groups and individuals deplatformed after the Jan 6th riots go and what have they been doing in the year since?With Donald Trumps 'Truth Social' platform about to launch it's hoped all his supporters will flock to this new gathering place. But who have they become in a year without his tweets and facebook posts to galvanise them? Many flocked to encypted messaging services like Telegram or self proclaimed 'pro free speech' platforms like Gettr and Gab. The fear is that moderate Trump supporters will have been radicalised in such spaces and the more extreme elements made even more extreme. Neo-nazis, white supremacists and other far right activists have taken the opportunity to go a recruiting drives in these largely unmoderated spaces cosying up to those they think can be turned to their cause and gradually exposing them to ever more extreme content.Aleks will join those who've been trying to monitor what's been happening behind these digitally closed doors and what might be done about what's been going on there.Producer: Peter McManus
21/02/2229m 46s


Aleks Krotoski asks if how we use technology has affected our attitudes to ephemerality and the transience of things.Producer: Peter McManus
15/11/2129m 0s


There are many ways in which the taint of prejudice, outdated ways of thinking and plain old human error can enter our artificial intelligence systems. The weakest link is always where the sticky handprints of humans are most visible. To train AIs, systems need two things: computer vision, to precisely identify images, and machine learning algorithms. But they also need a person to label images over and over and over again, so when the AI perceives that image, they learn what it is. In this episode, Aleks Krotoski takes a look at affect recognition and explores how it became part of a multi-billion dollar AI industry. It all comes back to a system called FACS or Facial Action Coding System, which was devised by a psychologist called Dr Paul Ekman. FACS is a framework which categorises facial expressions and was widely adopted by artificial labs in the nineties for use in computer vision. But, the science behind FACS has been widely disputed in the science community for two centuries. From a Parisian asylum, via the tropical rainforests of Papua New Guinea, Aleks Krotoski traces the history of this controversial science and tells the story of how it ended up in our AIs.Producer: Caitlin Smith
08/11/2128m 45s


We've all had experiences of our attention wandering, usually at those moments when we most need to concentrate.But, in our productivity-driven society, are we placing too much emphasis on paying attention and failing to recognise the benefits of more unstructured thought processes? After all, focus comes at a cost. With numerous demands on our attention, it's all too easy to experience burnout. Unfocus can recharge our batteries and allow us to be creative by making connections and connecting with other people.In this episode, Aleks Krotoski explores some of the different modes of attention we can switch between and asks whether, perhaps, we should be awarding our unfocus equal status to our focus.Producer: Lynsey Moyes
01/11/2128m 32s


If you want to send a message without any chance of it being intercepted then end-to-end encryption services are the way to do it. Governments and intelligence agencies can’t even intercept these messages, without compromising the phone they’re sent or received on, because the tech companies themselves don’t even have access. In the pursuit of protecting people’s privacy, in the wrong hands these messaging apps can be dangerous. Aleks discovers how the Taliban used WhatsApp to help them sweep through Afghanistan and take Kabul, without a bullet being fired. Unless you turn off the internet it's impossible with technology like WhatsApp, Telegram and Signal to let the ‘good’ guys use it while restricting the ‘bad’ guys. Aleks hears why turning off the internet is not the answer because it often favours those who are trying to oppress rather than the people who need help. Aleks learns that while the Taliban were using WhatsApp to organise and disarm those who may have tried to resist their takeover of Afghanistan, many Afghans who were desperately trying to escape Kabul relied on WhatsApp to connect and keep in touch with military officers and diplomats in order to get to and through the right gate and onto flights to safety. For some, when their phone battery ran out so did their hopes of escape. "WhatsApp has provided a lifeline to millions of people around the world and we're grateful to have played a small role in helping people in Afghanistan. Of course, WhatsApp requires a mobile connection, and anyone who has spent time in Afghanistan knows its complex terrain often times requires multiple forms of communications to reach across the country." WhatsApp spokesperson.Producer: Kate Bissell Researcher: Anna Miles
25/10/2128m 52s


Aleks Krotoski explores the relationships between social media content creators and their audience, asking how does it get complicated when money starts to change hands.These are often described as para-social relationships. Ones were the audience knows a lot about the content creator and they know next to nothing about the viewers. This can lead to misunderstandings and even behaviours that border on coercive control.How can this new breed of celebrity navigate this world when what their subscribers are paying for is their own piece of them?Producer: Peter McManus
18/10/2128m 55s


We all cheat at least a little bit, some of us in family games of monopoly, others on their taxes. Aleks asks if the digital era has made that easier; with less apparent consequence and therefore more tempting? If that's the case where does that lead us.Why, for example, would people hack the language learning app Duolingo to achieve an entirely meaningless high score, just to beat those of their fellow learners? And if you use the fitness app Strava to compete with others who cycle the same route, what possesses you to use an electric bike next time, or even do it in your car? One of the key factors that encourage us to cheat is psychological distance - we can't see the impact of our cheating so it becomes more tempting. That's the digital world.More charitably, another influence on our cheating is if we're already exhausted physically, psychologically or emotionally. Is that what might explain the rise in academic cheating that experts have detected during the course of the pandemic, when so much education and assessment has moved online?Aleks explores all these examples along with the justifications people engage not own up to their behaviour.Producer: Peter McManus
11/10/2128m 55s


Aleks Krotoski explores what it's like to be 'villain of the day' on social media.It seems every day an individual rightly or wrongly becomes the object of the online world's condemnation. What's that like and what motivates people to pile on? Are the criticisms always made in good faith or is there something more complex going on with what the critics are trying to signal.Producer: Peter McManus
28/06/2129m 18s


Dr Charu Smita, a media researcher in Delhi explains how as the social contract between middle class Indians and the Government, to provide medical assistance, crumbled, people realised they'd need to mobilise to help save lives. Anirudh Deshmukh is a musician from Mumbai and when the second wave of Covid hit India and he saw the urgent tweets and posts from people searching for oxygen and hospital beds for loved ones he decided to do something about it. Using a combination of social media, WhatsApp and the meet up platform Clubhouse Anirudh began finding strangers hospital beds and oxygen. He quickly became inundated and along with others he began working day and night to locate beds and oxygen. Anirudh found himself having to decide who to save, a morally and ethically difficult decision even for a highly trained medic or relief worker. Dr Venkata Ratnadeep Suri explains how technology enabled people to form local microcosmic systems to allow those most in need get the oxygen they needed. Aleks also hears how in desperation people started to think very creatively about how to use apps and online social platforms to save lives. Sohini Chattopadhyay returned to Kolkata at the beginning of the pandemic to be with her mum. When her childhood friend got sick with Covid during the second wave her doctors suggested plasma therapy. It was going to be too difficult to go through official channels so Sohini turned to Tinder to find a suitable match. She set up a profile with the most flattering selfie she could find but explained she wasn't looking for a date but people who'd recently had Covid with the right blood type. Two people came forward. Produced by Kate Bissell Researched by Anna Miles
21/06/2128m 50s


Aleks Krotoski explores the impact of Sci-hub on science and the Open Access Movement.
14/06/2129m 10s


Aleks Krotoski talks to the children of those lost to QAnon conspiracies. Many have sought support and advice in online forums where they exchange stories of estrangement and bereavement unable to prevent their parent falling further down the rabbit of outlandish plots, twisted ideas and political extremism.For many experts QAnon behaves like an authoritarian cult demanding total obedience to its ideas and anyone who can’t be converted are to be shunned. In an ironic twist on the classic cult narrative there as many parents as impressionable young people that have fallen under QAnon’s sway. But like cult members of the past can they be deprogrammed and reunited with their children?Producer: Peter McManus
07/06/2127m 49s


Most banks, airlines even the military use legacy software because to replace it costs millions. Instead, as companies grow or change, old software is merged with new software. Aleks hears about ‘technical debt’, when software engineers who create original software code leave or move on, taking their expertise with them. Without proper knowledge of the old code, maintaining legacy software can become problematic and leave a company or organisation vulnerable to technical bugs. The damage brought by thee bugs can leave a legacy of its own. And Aleks asks whether the software is really to blame? Producer: Kate Bissell Researcher: Anna Miles
31/05/2128m 49s


Illustration by Seonaid MacKayThe history of early cinema, radio, and television has suffered from a mass loss of material. Lon Chaney’s vampiric grin and Betty Balfour’s joyful dances were melted down for the silver. Canisters full of voices from radio’s early days cast aside. Doctor Who and Dad’s Army fans still scour basements and attics in the hope of finding episodes lost decades ago. When a new technology creates a new artform, we seem to make the same mistake - not seeing the value, and ditching parts of our cultural history.The same mistake was made with video games. Compounding this is the fact that games are a particularly challenging art form to preserve. Technology is constantly changing, consoles rapidly become obsolete, and for the first few decades the companies that made the games had no financial incentive to save old games - it was all too easy for games to be cast into the void.However, the gamer community has long been fighting against this erasure of history, and now more and more organisations are forming to save not just games, but the cultural and social history tied up in the games, and the communities who love them.Aleks Krotoski explores how we can prevent gems of video game history from being lost, while following the unlikely story of how one of these forgotten games was recovered against the odds.
25/05/2129m 43s


In 2006 the creators of the alternate reality game, Perplex City set a puzzle challenge called Billion to One. With only one photograph and a first name players were tasked with using the internet to find out who the man was in the photo. Despite thousands of people looking for Satoshi he stayed hidden for 14 years until eventually, just before New Year in 2021 Tom Lucas in Germany used reverse image search and in under five minutes discovered who he was, where he lived, worked and how to contact him. This may be considered progress for those who want to be found but for people like Sian who live under Witness Protection, advancements in technology means stepping out of her house becomes a huge risk. Because we capture so much of our lives and put it online, where ever Sian goes she has to be vigilant she’s not caught on camera or video. Just one reverse image search could mean she is found, which could have dire consequences for her and her family. In Japan, Satoshi records his first interview since being found giving a voice to the Billion to One puzzle photo for the first time. Aleks finds out if Satoshi knew thousands of people were looking for him and how feels about being found? Producer Kate Bissell Researcher Juliet Conway
29/03/2128m 58s


Dreams have fascinated people since the dawn of humanity, seen as prophetic, used by the ancient Greeks to diagnose illness before physical symptoms appeared, and inspiring some of the world’s greatest inventions and works of art.But dreams have a darker side. Often we meet our internalised anxieties in our sleeping subconscious. During the Pandemic there was a surge of people reporting having more dreams, especially vivid, nightmarish visions - facing down swarms of insects, swept away by title waves, or being overwhelmed and oppressed by unstoppable forces. At the same time, there was a spike in online searches for ways to induce lucid dreaming, and how to take control of dreams.Aleks Krotoski explores why we have this urge to take control of our dreams, how technology can influence us in our sleep, and finds out if it’s wise to really try to take control, when we’re still figuring out the purpose and mechanics of dreams and don’t yet know the consequences of tinkering with them.
22/03/2128m 47s


As we hunker down for the last period of lockdown novelty has never felt more absent from our lives. Aleks Krotoski explores its importance and asks if the digital world can actually provide it.Producer Peter McManus
15/03/2129m 50s


Every time we seek treasure and eventually find, we get a hit of endorphins that tickles the happy parts of our brains.There are tales of extraordinary discoveries; King Tut’s tomb, The Mona Lisa, Viking gold. Incredible things that took ingenuity and dedication to uncover. Wouldn't it be remarkable to strike it lucky and find real treasure buried for hundreds or even thousands of years? Every rabbit hole we go down, every mystery we try to solve scratches that itch. It might be offline, or on. What does it look like? How do we find it? And is it wise to do so?Archaeologist Peter Reavill tells us about the discovery of an astonishing Viking hoard in Herefordshire, but like so many tales of treasure warn, it became a curse to those who found it. They chose to value secrecy about what they discovered digging up the hoard, higher than its historical value. Stefan from Germany is sitting on an unbelievable hoard of digital treasure - $371,000,000 but with only two goes left on his flash drive to guess the password, it became such a curse it drove him to contemplate ending it all. And alternate reality game developer Dan Hon introduces us to Perplex City, an online and offline treasure hunt which led Andy Darley to dig up a metal cube claim a£100,000 prize. Dan draws similarities between alternate reality games and how QAnon works and we hear from Leila who after becoming obsessed with QAnon explains how a search for information, patterns and connections became the digital equivalent of seeking treasure but became so toxic it started affecting her mental health until she managed to pull herself out of it.Producer Kate Bissell Researcher Juliet Conway
08/03/2128m 30s


In the early days of the internet, trolls were nothing to fear. Comedians, tricksters, harmless pranksters ready to waste a little time or pounce on a typo. Some people enjoyed a bit of provocation to spark some spirited debate. You had flamers and griefers, but in general communities were good at booting out malicious actors, while leaving the trickers to their fun.But in 2021, things are very different. In the past, a random troll post on 4Chan would quickly sink into obscurity. Now, one proved the start of the QAnon movement that lead to an attempted coup in Washington DC. Malicious trolls are now the dominant type across our shared internet spaces, their numbers are rising, and their influence spreading both online and off, causing harm to both individuals and wider society.Aleks Krotoski explores troll evolution, finding out why maliciousness became an evolutionary advantage in the digital space, and asking what happens when being a troll is becoming the new normal.
01/03/2128m 54s


Aleks Krotoski explores the power of toys and play in shaping our technological future. Apple's Tim Cook has said he began working on the smartwatch aged 5 after seeing the cartoon character Dick Tracy's wristwatch two way radio. So how much of our technological present has been prescribed by future visions of the past? Clearly many innovators imagination’s get fired up by childhood experiences but do they end up pursuing technologies that don’t actually solve the problems we’re facing? Or worse still, do they lock coming generations into futures where many key decisions have already been made and they’ll end up having to deal with them? Look at climate change.Aleks explores these ideas with Steven Johnson author of Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World, Jonathon Keats experimental philosopher and founder and curator of The Museum of Future History and Valentina Boretti; a researcher who has been looking at how toys were used to shape the children that would create China’s industrial miracle.Producer: Peter McManus
22/02/2128m 48s


Since March this year - 2020 - venues have been black. Performers and live audiences are separated by COVID-19. Had it lasted a week, maybe two, things might not have changed. But as with the rest of our lives, technology has had to step in to give a lifeline to those who make their living from live performance. Aleks asks whether streaming online commodifies and commercialises artists and cultural scenes by turning what they do into just more online content? Or will streaming, together with limitations, promote greater creativity from the re- imagining of performance through the use of technology, to engage and reach audiences?Producer Kate Bissell Researcher Juliet Conway
16/11/2028m 41s


The monsters we create have always given us insight into what we're scared of in the world around us. Whether that's zombies igniting fears around racial tensions in the United States of the nineteen sixties or Dracula articulating a fear of the other and of immigration at the end of nineteenth century. Aleks Krotoski asks what those monsters born in tech tell us about our fears today.Producer: Peter McManus
09/11/2030m 11s


In Maori culture, images and objects or treasures can come to embody a person. However when the Maori were first confronted with portrait photography they initially responded by hiding from the camera, fearful that their 'mauri', or life force, would be lost. Professor Deidre Brown explains though how the Maori began to see the new medium as an effective method of embodying the 'wairua', or everlasting spirit, of a person. Robin Finn was very close to her mother, they spoke to each other several times a day. After her mother's death Robin decided to keep their phone-mediated relationship alive and continued ringing her mum and leaving voicemails. Robin fantastically hoped that maybe these messages were being sent out into the cosmos and her mum would somehow receive them. For Robin, her mother's mobile helps to keep her 'Mauri', or life force, alive. David Glowacki is a Royal Society Research Fellow who runs the 'Intangible Realities Lab' at the University of Bristol. David is interested in aesthetic metaphors that guide scientific imagination. He believes this is particularly important in domains which cannot be seen with the naked eye, where our scientific intuition is guided by the aesthetic representations and metaphors we use to imagine phenomena which are otherwise invisible. David uses virtual reality to bring to life molecular physics and quantum dynamics, particularly in relation to the idea of matter and energy. David says watching colleagues interact with the virtual visualisations of molecular physics inspired him to design VR which explores how energy connects to the sacred. Aleks asks if technology really can give us a greater understanding of our relationship with the sacred. Producer Kate Bissell Researcher Juliet Conway
02/11/2028m 59s


There's a perception that it’s always daytime on the internet. What that misses is that it’s not always the case for us when we go there. We gravitate to different parts of the digital world during the night. We slow down without the bombardment of emails updates and notifications.We become explorers of soundscapes on meditation apps, we listen to soft, soothing mumblings on podcasts lulling us to sleep. For those digital night owls, it’s an Alice like experience falling through a labyrinth of interconnected internet rabbit holes discovering subjects you wouldn’t even have thought about when the sun is up.In this episode Aleks celebrates 'noctunality' on the internet whether for those seeking sleep or those for whom this is the time to wake up.Producer: Peter McManus
26/10/2029m 22s


If there’s one thing that makes the world go ‘round, it’s trust - trust in institutions, trust in science, trust in the economy, trust in each other. Trust is what protects our vulnerability; it’s behind the unspoken social contracts that keep us safe. Without trust, we’re done.And since the beginning of our love-hate relationship with the Web, we’ve been wondering: is computer-mediated communication eroding trust? Or, does it make trust stronger? Or, are we more likely to misplace it more now that we can’t see, touch and smell a person’s true intentions?Producer: Kate Bissell
19/10/2028m 34s


The digital world has given us the tools to support one another through the coming financial crisis in the wake of the pandemic. Aleks Krotoski asks if crowd funding is a magic bullet for giving to those whose livelihoods have suffered? And what makes us give in the first place if it’s, as many are reporting, a new form of economic survivor guilt do we risk that being manipulated?Producer: Peter McManus
12/10/2029m 14s


Aleks Krotoski asks if moving our lives online has given us a false sense of normality during these extraordinary times. For those of us lucky enough to be able to work, shop and socialise there our connections to the digital world have been a lifeline, keeping us in touch with what normality is or at least was. If lockdown had happened 15 years ago it might have been a very different story.Aleks explores the experiences of people who used technology to try and feel normal to see where it works and where it doesn't as well as investigating our whole concept of 'normal' and why we cling to it so desperately.Producer: Peter McManus Research: Elizabeth Ann Duffy and Anna Miles
29/06/2028m 55s

Five Minutes

Aleks Krotoski explores how the mechanics of the digital environment allow misinformation to swamp digital platforms. YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, they are all swamped with cheery, colourful ‘life hack’ and crafting videos, but if you watch for more than a few minutes you’ll see that actually trying to follow along would prove difficult, if not impossible. Much of the content isn’t even possible to do. And yet, it’s extraordinarily popular, and profitable content.Clickbait isn’t new, but this is potentially dangerous eye candy, and when you look beneath the surface, it’s possible to see that the same infrastructure and techniques have made life hacks go viral, can, in the wrong hands, be exploited for deliberately malicious ends. It only takes a few minutes to set up a system that can swamp the internet. Be it with unintentionally dangerous DIY suggestions aimed at children, or deliberate political machinations targeted at adults.
22/06/2028m 45s


We are stuck in a moment. Inside our homes, the days can feel like they’re stretching ahead.Aleks Krotoski explores how technologies can lift us out of the mundane and help us regain a sense of control.Jan Scheuermann is a quadriplegic. She's unable to use her arms and legs and controls her wheelchair with her chin. In 2011 she joined a research trial that would change the way she saw herself and her life.We hear from Tom Mast, a college student whose new independent life was put on hold by a pandemic; Tiu de Haan, an ideas doula who has worked with the UN, who explains how building a den or cocoon can trigger daydreaming and help birth new ideas; and psychologist Eli Somer, who is an expert on daydreaming.Produced by Caitlin Smith and Kate Bissell Sound Design by Eloise Whitmore
15/06/2028m 58s


Aleks explores whether the moment we're in is the internet’s greatest stress test. Can a network that was built to connect human beings through facts and figures support someone during their greatest hour of need? Philip Blackledge is a priest, who's been sitting with Covid-19 patients. He says the pain and separation he has witnessed has been heartbreaking but technology has offered a bridge between loved ones. Philip acknowledges, the grace the dying have shown in using technology to make peace with those they’re leaving behind, because of restrictions and separation, has been very moving. But he explains why we are asking technology to do a lot. Zainab Gulamali highlights how for the Muslim community mourning has been taken online, but there is much to navigate. Zainab tells how she accidentally ended up virtually attending a funeral of someone she didn’t know on instagram live. And Zainab describes how an online memorial for her Grandmother’s death allowed her for the first time to witness the emotion of older members of her family. She says that attending funerals online is a much more real and raw experience. Jay McGregor’s father, Jason Weatherman, a well known and respected DJ within the UK’s black community died during the pandemic and after an outpouring of grief from around the world, his family and friends decided to host the first ever customary Nine Nights celebration online. 25,000 people joined the live stream and Jay says this event gave her more comfort than anything following her father’s passing. This is not what the pioneers of the internet imagined - they thought they would build a global community to share information but what they did - and we didn’t believe it until now - was to create a technology that is a bridge for love. Produced by Kate Bissell
08/06/2029m 10s


For the entirety of human history, we have made tools and those tools have then shaped us. But in the digital age, that ancient feedback loop has become more complicated.We are fully conscious of the impact our tools can have on us, and we have the chance to guide our future symbiotic relationship with out technology, in a way that expands our cognitive capacity, creativity and skills that would make us fulfill our untapped potential as a species.But is that possible when the vast majority of us have become detached from the development of our technology? What happens to the ancient feedback loop when we are being shaped by obscure devices, in an age of digital blackboxes?Aleks Krotoski explores the history of how we have been shaped by tool development, and discovers how we can plug back into the process, and shape out symbiotic future.
01/06/2028m 55s


We’ve heard a lot about “disruption” over the last few years - companies upending, institutions and entrepreneurs revolutionising some of the things that we thought always were and always should be. Technology has been the poster child of these rapid social and economic changes. But disruption existed before Silicon Valley co-opted the word - it was change, that accelerated something, unexpected. It was something that exposed the cracks in our expectations and changed things, sometimes forever.Two big thinkers, James Burke and Pico Iyer join Aleks to explore whether the pandemic provides the opportunity to think about how we can restructure our lives and our societies. Whether it gives us the chance to embrace disruption, and to reflect on what new ways of being are available to us on the other side. Is what is important to each of us becoming clear... if we choose to listen to it? Produced by Kate Bissell and Mark Rickards
25/05/2028m 12s


Since Britain went into lock down, people in emotionally and physically abusive relationships are having to spend more time with their partners in a confined space. Police forces in England and Wales say they've seen a dramatic spike in reports of domestic abuse.The Digital Human speaks with survivors of these relationships and asks them how technology extended the reach of abusers. We hear how it is used as a tool to coerce, control and manipulate, but also how it can be used by the victim for advice and support.Producer: Kate Bissell Researcher: Juliet Conway Details of organisations offering information and support with domestic violence are available at, or you can call for free, at any time to hear recorded information on 0800 888 809
30/03/2029m 7s


For decades, technologists, futurists and even our favourite science ficti has been predicting that technology will do away with the drudgery of work, take care of our basic day to day needs and create a world where scarcity will be a thing of the past.The media has been focused on the economic impact of these new tech advances, but we should be asking a different question. Who will we be in an age of plenty?
23/03/2029m 1s


Listen to the chimes of Big Ben stiking midnight at new year, on the stroke of 12 we cheer, embrace and kiss loved ones but when did that actually happen. Well it depends on what device you're listening to. If its over the web or digital radio it could be many seconds in the past; does that matter, what happens to those seconds in between? Aleks Krotoski mediatates on our urge to converge and how the digital era can throw us in and out of sync with the universe and each other.Producer: Peter McManus
16/03/2029m 34s

Lab Rats

When you go online, there is a 100% chance that you will be part of an experiment. We are constantly observed, and tested upon, in the digital space, and more often than not it’s done without our knowledge or explicit consent.Many experiments are simple and narrow, focused on how to keep our eyeballs on a particular page, to how to get us to click a particular button, or how to separate people into categories where we can be subjected to particular exploitation - did your hotel or plane tickets cost more or less than another person on the same site?But should we be afraid of every test in the digital world?Aleks finds out how a glitch in the World of Warcraft resulted in the first virtual plague, and it allowed epidemiologists to study human behaviour in a pandemic situation, without risk of anyone really being harmed but in ways that were startlingly analogous to real world behaviour.And she delves into the now infamous Facebook Emotional Contagion study, and finds out that the public outrage may not only have been displaced, but could have done far more, and longer lasting, harm than could have been predicted.
09/03/2029m 11s


For some time now Aleks has felt uncomfortable with the way friendships are performed online. There's something about the unspoken transactional expectation of a like for a like; the friend anniversary reminders; the laugh out loud-ness of it all.The online world – rich with the communities she once loved and learned from, connections forged, old schoolmates rediscovered – has become increasingly empty as a space to perform "friendship".So is there a tension between what we feel friendship is, and the way we’re doing friendships online?Aleks explores if the tech we use accurately represents the values we hold dear in our relationships. Producer: Caitlin Smith
02/03/2028m 32s


The Digital World is full of unintended consequences. Aleks finds out what happened when an influx of bitcoin miners descended like electricity devouring locusts on the snowy little town of Plattsburgh NY.Depending what day it is maintaining the bitcoin network can take the same amount of energy as consumed by the whole country of Switzerland. These crypto currencies quite literally turn electricity into money but electricity costs, so all over the globe there are itinerant bitcoin miners like the prospectors of old in search deep veins of cheap power to refine into digital goldAnd so when it became known that the little town of Plattsburgh on the US/Canadian border had just about the cheapest electricity on the continent the miners flocked there from as far away Puerto Rico. At its height you couldn’t walk down the street without feeling the heat and the din of servers churning away in hastily converted strip malls. But it was it a bonanza for the locals? Aleks finds out.
24/02/2028m 48s


Johnathan Hirshon works in PR and marketing and describes himself as ‘The Faceless man' because he’s managed to keep his face off the internet for over twenty years. This may seem extreme but Neda Soltani explains how one online photo of her face, meant she had to leave her family, country and profession. Artist and curator, Bogomir Doringer whose archived and curated thousands of faceless images off the internet talks about how technology is not only choreographing the way we use our faces but persuading us to hand over our biometric data with our use of apps that change the way we look. . Artist Zach Blas is interested in queer culture and has created masks using biometric data from minority groups, to push back on the possibility of people being categorised by biometrics. Zach uses masks to show that facial recognition technology can be disrupted. Stephen has been trying to do just that. Stephen is from Hong Kong and spent the summer protesting against the Extradition bill. He and his fellow protesters wore masks to evade identification from the police and Hong Kong's smart lamp posts. The remit of the protest grew when the wearing of masks by protesters was banned. Stephen believes that by using facial recognition technology on the streets of Hong Kong the authorities in Hong Kong and China are creating a sense of ‘white terror’. Stephen is now protesting in the UK but still feels this ‘white terror’. While protesting people from mainland China have been taking photos of him and other protesters. He knows that photos can go global and by using facial recognition tech he could be easily identified. Is it becoming impossible to escape recognition even when we would like to hide?Produced by Kate Bissell With special thanks to Bogomir Doringer
25/11/1928m 20s


Aleks Krotoski explores how Silicon Valley culture has led to a growth in the cult of personality.This kind of worship has been hot housed in Silicon Valley ever since Steve Jobs burst out of his garage and onto the scene. Here, we take a look at how Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk and others came to be regarded as the charismatic high priests in a new dark age. and ask what that says about us. But, with the trial of Elizabeth Holmes and the fall of WeWork, have the bubble burst? Producer: Caitlin Smith
18/11/1928m 28s


When a homeless man was accidentally killed by a train on 11/08/18 in The Dalles, Oregon, no one realised how many people it would effect. The man was a computer programmer called Terry Davis and he was on a mission from God. He'd designed an entire operating system called Temple OS and according to Terry its creation had been a direct instruction from God himself. As a fellow programmer explained it, 'you can imagine how over time one man might build a house, but this is like building a sky scraper, on your own!' And this was all done while Terry battled a diagnosis of schizophrenia. Aleks Krotoski searches the emails, web posts and live streams to piece together the life of a remarkable individual whose work touched so many and is now celebrated not just as a technological achievement but an artistic one. Producer: Peter McManus Researcher: Elizabeth Ann Duffy
11/11/1928m 38s

Character Witness

Gangs are territorial, every street, every block is mapped out according to who’s in charge, where. It’s still true today. But now that the internet is where we do so much of our social lives, gangland has also gone online. Territory isn’t just where you physically operate, but where the mind wanders as well, but what happens when staking out territory online is then used as evidence to convict you in the real world? In this episode, we’re looking at what this means for the people caught up in gang warfare, how a social media profile can keep you safe but at the same time be used as a character witness against you. Featuring former gang members and gang mediators from Chicago Aleks finds out how social media along with poverty is trapping young people in fractured communities, into a cycle of violence and revenge.Produced by Kate Bissell With thanks to YBH Honcho for the use of his music
04/11/1928m 29s


The internet has facilitated an explosion in opinion. Some people's views you'll agree with, other's you'll find abhorrent. How do we manage that in a pluralistic world? Is reaching for the mute button the best way to get through the day? Or is it about calling people out and making an example of them online?Aleks Krotoski dips her toe into the world of microaggressions, safe spaces and asks if we’re really in the middle of a free speech crisis.
28/10/1928m 42s


Aleks Krotoski explores our anxieties around AI and automation. Comparing western philosophy to that of the east, she'll ask if some of fears around technology are cultural.Much of western thinking is still strongly influenced by Christian traditions which places humanity at the top of the tree of creation. We rebel against anything that challenges that. Whether it be Galileo telling us we're not the centre of the universe or Darwin telling us we're nothing more than shaved monkeys. It can be argued that the invention of AI is just that sort of challenge to our supremacy. But in Japan they see things very differently; Shintoism leads to a philosophy without the Christian hierarchy. In their 'creation' everything is alive and connected to everything else. Just like the modern digital world.What can we learn from looking at technology differently.Producer: Peter McManus
21/10/1939m 35s


Our personal space is like an invisible sphere around us, reaching from our bodies at the centre to the tips of our fingers. Ironically, this is also where many of us keep our phones - the windows that lets us see into the rest of the world - and the door that lets the rest of the world into our personal space. What’s the best way to control who comes in, and what do we need to do when we want to close it?Produced by Kate Bissell
08/07/1929m 3s


Violent content online has rightly been condemned. Yet while we criticise those facilitating the supply we rarely talk about the demand. Aleks Krotoski asks who views it and why.
01/07/1928m 52s


Social media is about stories, and what's more interesting - to you at least - than telling your own? When you post, you're building a narrative: this is who I am and this is what I like. You're creating your very own movie, pulling in a range of characters. Then you've got stage sets and let's not forget the bit parts; those people who dip in and out of your life and provide endless story fodder. But what happens when you discover that it's you who has in fact been cast in the cameo role in someone else's social media story? We hear from the unwitting extras: from the seat mates on a plane caught in a publicity storm after a woman posted about the apparent beginning of their great romance, to a man who helped his neighbour and ended the subject of her tweets. So what does this mean for personal autonomy, having a voice, and the limits of the stories we can or should tell online? Does the digital world blur the boundaries between what stories are yours to tell? Aleks Krotoski explores the tension between entitlement and a feeling of voicelessness. Producer: Caitlin Smith
24/06/1928m 35s


Zachary, Stina and Andrea do not suffer from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder but they all became stuck in obsessional loops after being triggered by an event in their lives which left them looking for answers. Their obsessions left them all with compulsions to watch and research others online, to seek the certainty they craved to stop the hurt they felt,. But Andrea learnt that "You'll never find the answers you're looking for, but end up chipping away at yourself." For her she believed her obsession and compulsion became a form of self harm. Emma Stone is the Director of the National Centre for Cyberstalking Research at the University of Bedfordshire who explains how being engaged in a repetitive behaviour such as online stalking, in which the only reward is getting to look at someone online without getting any reciprocal energy back is not something that is going to raise your self-esteem. From her experience Andrea learnt that once you take something from online to offline you really are deciding who you are going to be and Zach discovered that if you really want to know who you are look at yourself online when no one is watching. Francesca Cwynar who suffers from Pure O, a form of Obsessive - Compulsive Disorder shares how invisible her obsessive intrusive thoughts are and how she thinks social media mimics the intrusive thoughts people with Pure O experience. Producer: Kate Bissell Researcher: Laurence CookWith thanks to Clea Skopeliti for consultation on OCD research.
17/06/1928m 50s

The Analogue Human

To celebrate the 100th episode of The Digital Human Aleks Krotoski explores how digital and analogue technologies make us think differently. And she'll do it by going 'old school' putting down the keyboard and mouse in favour of audio tape and razor blades. But this programme isn't about nostalgia, she'll be investigating the psychological experiences of using these different technologies.With the help of artists, musicians and photographers she asks if the endless possibilities we're offered by digital tools are as liberating as we think or paradoxically are they paralysing, making it impossible to choose one product, picture, tindr date over another? Are we more creative, and decisive when we're forced to be by constraints; as we used to be when camera's shot film with a limited number of shots and tippex was the only way to erase something we'd written?And are we too readily allowing our digital technologies to decide what's important. Whether in music or on the phone our digital devices strip out the 'noise'. Whether that's the background of where we're making a call, or the sound of fingertips on an instrument. When we lose some of that context what else are we sacrificing? Aleks will aim to find the right balance between the two domains, to make the most of each.Throughout the programme we'll also offer a glimpse behind the scenes of making a programme where the final assembly uses pre-digital techniques; and the scavenger hunt it required to find the long decommissioned tape machines and the people who remember how to operate them. Producer: Peter McManus
17/06/1929m 19s


Are we using tech as a digital sedative? And if so, what does that do to our ability to touch and feel? Aleks looks at why we turn to tech to render us emotionally numb…
03/06/1928m 42s


On New Year's Eve in 2015 Vicky Schaubert, a journalist from Norwegian broadcaster NRK heard a story that was to stay with her for many years prompting her to research and write an article about a young man called Mats Steen from Oslo. At the age of four he was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a muscular disease which was to drastically shorten his life expectancy. His father, Robert introduced Mats to gaming hoping it would help substitute all the things he was not able to do. Mats spent the last ten years of his life before his death in 2014 rarely going out of the apartment he lived in. He spent the majority of his time gaming online. After Mats passed away his parents mourned what they thought was a very lonely and isolated life, that was until Robert decided he needed to reach out to the gaming community to tell them Mats would no longer be logging on. Robert was not prepared for what happened next. He received many, many emails from people around the world shining a new light on the life of his son. Mats' story had a profound effect on Vicky Schaubert who reached out to Mats’ family to tell his story. After learning about Mats she apologised to her sons for her attitude towards the time they have spent gaming. Vicky attached no value to gamming and shamed them for wasting their time until she learned about Mats. Exploring Mats' story, Aleks discovers how easy it is to make assumptions about something you can't see - whether it’s inside the mind of another person, or inside the computer where connections and community offer a new opportunity for someone to find their people.Produced by Kate Bissell Researched by Laurence Cook
22/04/1928m 25s


Aleks Krotoski takes a look at the way we use crutches, in both our offline and online lives. We all use crutches - from dummies to cigarettes, from computer games and snapchat filters to people or food. It’s distraction from whatever it is lying beneath the surface. But sometimes crutches stop being a short-term solution, and start being part of the problem. From here, life can get complex. How much do crutches help us, and how much does it hide the problems we need to tackle head-on?Producer: Caitlin Smith
16/04/1928m 31s


What is happening to us, now that we have access to all the world’s knowledge at our fingertips? If the headlines are to be believed, we are swimming upstream through relentless waves of alternative facts, drowning in an ocean of misinformation. And the internet? It’s the culprit.But here’s the thing: we are enthralled by what we think is online wisdom - the words of the sage, and the learned. Unfortunately, as we’ve discovered through a lot of mishaps, a lot of the information that’s out there isn’t particularly wise. Aleks Krotoski looks to traditional sources of wisdom to give us advice on what we should do with our library of knowledge.
15/04/1928m 36s


In November 2018 and LA based band Threatin landed in the UK to begin their first European tour. Their promoter had booked venues in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, new band members had been signed up with the promise of venues that could hold over 1000 people, the online audience was huge and passionately vocal on social media about their love of this brilliant upcoming band.But when they took to the stage, there was no audience to greet them. The illusion of rockstardom burst when it crossed over from online into the offline world. The reality was that the agency, the managers, the fan club, the youtube interviews - all had been manufactured by the band’s frontman Jered Threatin.When all was revealed the story went viral across the globe. Jered later claimed that the whole thing a deliberate performance that exposed the problems of fake news in the digital world, and that anyone who had participated was part of the ‘illusion’.Aleks digs into the strange story of a fake tour that ended up with real fame, or at least infamy - asking why we trust what we see online, where the line is drawn between performance, trolling or lies, and finds out the real life consequences for people swept up in an online illusion.
08/04/1928m 38s

Snake Oil

The internet began as a way for academics and researchers to share information and collaborate on projects - it was a boon for scientific discovery. But despite there being more scientific information online than ever, in the modern day the power of the internet has completely flipped. Verified science and medicine are crowded out by a plethora of misinformation and snake oil salesmen. From the relatively harmless quackery such as infrared light treatments or ‘wellness’ focused diets, to conspiracy theories around vaccinations that are influencing political policy, and have resulted in outbreaks of dangerous, preventable diseases across the world - what is happening online is having a tangible impact across the globe.Aleks Krotoski explores how the infrastructure of the internet allows medical misinformation to thrive, finds out how people can be drawn into communities centred around medical misinformation and conspiracy theory, and how both scientists and every day internet users can redress the balance online.
25/03/1929m 43s


Gentrification. It’s a constant cycle in the offline world. Run down areas with cheap rent attract a young arty crowd, business moves in when the area has a new hip image, and suddenly everyone wants to live there and the original residents find themselves priced out of the neighbourhood and so move on to a new place to start the cycle again.But, we don’t just live in cities in the digital age. The internet was once a haven for freaks, geeks and weirdos, but now that everyone has poured into the same digital space, has it too been gentrified? And if it has… where can people go?Aleks Krotoski explores how digital communities have shifted and evolved, through both the very human development of communities, and the technological changes of algorithms and automation that have like the highways and infrastructure of the physical world, have split communities and fundamentally changed how we live online. She discovers out how the cycle of progress has both helped and hurt us in the digital age, and finds out if the artists, the freaks, the geeks and the weirdos still have a place to call home.
18/03/1928m 35s


Aleks explores how technology can increase self -efficacy and therefore our belief that we can rescue others. Aleks discovers that sharing vulnerabilities online can turn a victim into a rescuer as others who need help will often seek you out giving you the opportunity to help them. Helping others can help detract from your own problems and help empower but as professional therapists know all too well there needs to be boundaries to prevent emotional burnout, but Aleks discovers that setting boundaries online is not easy.
29/10/1828m 3s


Digital Assistant bots are becoming ever more common - Alexa playing music on your countertop, Siri taking notes on your phone, a little voice bubbling out of your watch to rattle off the things you almost forgot you needed to buy during the big weekend shop. They are useful little servantsBut, barking orders at something that talks back, something that seems a little bit human but totally subservient… it can be a little uncomfortable. As with any new invention, domestic robots illuminate issues within human society that we may not have noticed before. Are we projecting old social norms of hierarchy and gender onto this new technology, and if we are, does how we choose to design and treat our subservient machines, impact how we treat our fellow humans?
22/10/1828m 19s


In world where we are constantly told we are all exceptional and unique, Aleks Krotoski explores the unexpected affordances of being average.
15/10/1828m 13s


Aleks Krotoski explores the social and psychological impact of a life lived online, where maintaining a perfectly curated life is key and real life flaws are hidden...Producer: Victoria McArthur
08/10/1828m 4s


Sarah from Ohio went online to escape bullies at her school but they followed her online and the abuse continued. She hoped someone would step in and help her but her attempt at a cry for help was ignored. We also hear from Vie Clerc Lusandu who was attacked, with her son on a train travelling from London to Leeds. Vie is still trying to comprehend why on a packed train it took ten minutes for someone to come to her aid. Dr Lasana Harris an experimental psychologist from University Collage London explains that people do not step forward because they are callous but because of the bystander effect. People may just not recognise when they are faced with a helping situation. If there is a large crowd this is exaggerated as people take their cues from other people. If there had been fewer people in Vie's carriage Lasana says it would have been more likely that someone would've stepped forward because the diffusion of responsibility would have been lower. Lasana acknowledges that because the conditions necessary for the bystander effect are magnified people online are even more unlikely to step in. Jackie Zammuto from Witness an organisation who teach people around the world how to bare witness to injustices using video explains how it is possible to turn from a bystander into a witness whose presence can then be of some use even if they don't step in. This may not have help Vie feel any less scared or vulnerable but it may have helped to deescalate and disrupt the attack. However documentary photographer, Lauren Pond's story warns us that we need to be careful we don't use our phones as a protective shield in helping situations where we should really put them away and step in or through observing videos online become bystanders ourselves.Produced by Kate Bissell Researched by Jac Phillimore
01/10/1828m 2s


Even if you are the most careful person in the world when it comes to your data, little pieces of your personal information are constantly being uploaded into the digital world without you being aware of it. How? Because of your connections to everyone around you.The idea of personal privacy might not even apply any more. Your family, friends, even a random guy you bought a couch from a decade ago all have information about you that is incredibly valuable to technology companies - from phone numbers and emails in a contact list, to new baby photos and even the code of your DNA - all of it is being harvested, sold and used without you having any way to know about it, let alone have any control.And Aleks Krotoski discovers that when those little pieces of the digital jigsaw are put together, they can have unexpected and sometimes shocking consequences in our real lives.
24/09/1828m 12s


Jane Charlton suffers from depersonalisation leaving her sense of self fragmented. In order to construct her sense of self she seeks the physical presence of people. For Jane social media means nothing. Dr Anna Ciaunica has studied Jane's experience of depersonalisation and what it tells us about the self, how we construct it and how important it is to maintain. Professor Manos Tsakiris says we need to feel embodiment in order to be fully in touch with our selves. But how does the use of tech influence this? Manos says that the feeling of dis embodied brains or 'brains in jars' doesn't help our sense of self because the body is as important as the brain in constructing the self, even through out adulthood. Aleks goes into a float tank in LA to experience sensory deprivation, no phones to see if she can connect to her body and explores the benefits of doing so. Brynn Duncan suffers from mast cell disease and can have an allergic reaction to almost anything at anytime. Her friends nick named her 'bubble girl' because she needs to constantly protect herself. For Brynn mentally detaching from a body which causes her great pain is critical and social media is one way she is able to do this. It enables her to live outside her body to escape and remove herself from the here and now. But Brynn says she has a hard time re attaching to herself once she has detached. Produced by Kate Bissell Researched by Jac Philllimore Music by Antfood.
25/06/1827m 53s


Aleks Krotoski wonders if it's really possible to convey a sense of joyful abandon online... Producer: Victoria McArthur.
18/06/1827m 49s


Aleks Krotoski enters the world of the unwatched, the unread and the unnoticed, all the content posted online that no-one ever sees.
11/06/1828m 33s


It does not interject, it has endless patience and you gain empathy from shared experience. Aleks Krotoski explores how the online space has become our greatest confidante...
04/06/1827m 54s


Aleks is looking at regret, that sinking, nagging feeling when we realise we have made the wrong choice or when things have not gone the way we hoped or envisaged. Ethan Zuckerman was one of the early architects of user generated content on the internet in the mid nineties. He created the code that lead to the pop up advert which he still regrets today but Aleks finds out not for the reasons you would think. Denise Locke was on Flight 1549 which miraculously landed in the Hudson River in 2009. She had a choice to get on the flight that day because the weather delay meant she was texted by the airline to give her the option not to fly. She flew anyway and despite suffering post traumatic stress she does not regret the experience. It has changed her life, she now lives much more in the present. Professor Amy Summerville runs a regret lab at Miami University, Ohio, she talks about the importance of regret and why it helps us to understand the world around us. Amy thinks that in our modern world we experience more regret, because of what she refers to as counterfactual thinking and the abundance of choice we now have because of technology. Simon Yates one of the protagonists in the film and book Touching the Void, speaks about why he cut the rope his climbing partner was dangling on up a mountain in Peru and why he has no regrets about what he did. Mel Slater and Doron Friedman both push the boundaries of what' s possible in virtual reality. They're exploring the use of clones in VR which are able to go back in time and re live past experiences. They believe this technology will have great impacts not only on our how we perceive the self and on identity but also how we experience and deal with regret in the future. Produced by Kate Bissell.
28/05/1827m 58s


It's the life we're told we want, where we just shout at a device and our needs are met as quickly as the supply chain allows. Aleks Krotoski explores frictionless digital living.But is there value in friction? Aleks hears from someone who's life depends on it, mountaineer Andy Kirkpatrick. He has a reputation for stacking the odds against himself as much as possible; long routes, often climbed alone in the worst of conditions. Back on the ground Andy also needs friction to not get complacent, accept others views without question, to keep moving forward.Without friction we risk falling prey to what economist Umair Haque describes as the infantilisation economy. One where we are diminished by being able to have our every need met by Amazon's Alexa. And the cost isn't just to us but also to the army of digital serfs peddling about in all weathers with those trademark boxes on their backs. Its a future that was foreseen as far back as the late 19th century by the likes of Nietzsche in his descriptions of the 'last men' a humanity living the most vanilla of existences without challenge or ambition to change.Nothing sums this up better than the food replacement industry. No time to shop, cook, chew? Get everything you need nutritionally in a drink like Soylent or Huel - all in the name of efficiency. Its a world that fascinates anthropologist Jan English-Luek who for over 20 years has been observing trends in silicon valley.Ultimately Aleks will ask what we're saving all this time and effort for and do we ever reap the benefits? Or does it just keep us where the digital world wants us, consuming in ever more efficient ways.Producer: Peter McManus.
21/05/1828m 9s


From the dawn of civilisation, human beings have yearned to predict the future. In the past you might have consulted the Oracle at Delphi or sat down for a tarot reading to steer you through life. Today, the internet offers amazing potential for predictive technology. There isn't a part of the natural world or human existence that isn't recorded and quantified, even the most mundane aspects of our lives are broadcast into the universe thanks to our prolific use of social media. By analysing the cornucopia of data we can detect patterns and understand behaviour... but can we really predict the future? Developers claim yes we can, from what movie will be a breakout hit, to when there will be a run on cold and flu medicine, even to the outcome of a child's' entire life - all we need is the right data. But do we want that?In today's Digital Human Aleks Krotoski explores why it is we feel the need to predict the future to find our place in the present world, and discovers that prediction could end up being a cursed crystal ball if handled incorrectly.
27/03/1828m 21s


Aleks Krotoski asks if blaming social media for recent political upheaval misses the point and we end up giving too much power to the technology and not enough to ourselves in how opinions become formed.
19/03/1828m 16s


If we look hard enough, we have access to information online about other people, and about issues we may think we need to know. But is this always a good thing? Are there some things that we'd be better off not knowing? Producer: Kate Bissell.
12/03/1828m 3s


The human face is quintessential part of our identity - crucial for communication, expressing emotion and understanding our place in the world. So what happens when that most human of interfaces is placed over what boils down to a cluster of motors and a few lines of code? Aleks Krotoski explores how we will be psychologically affected by machines that can look us in the eye and smile back at us.Producer: Elizabeth Ann Duffy.
05/03/1828m 31s


One of the major criticisms of social media is that it's disconnecting us, as individuals, from society and from real physical interactions.But if a key element of 'tribe' is communication and connectivity then the digital world arguably holds unlimited bounds for tribes. Mumsnet for instance has changed how we view mums as a social group. While marketers and advertisers may have seen them as a target market, they probably never thought they would be an ever-connected all-powerful tribe who could even make politicians quiver in their boots.In this weeks' episode of The Digital Human, Aleks Krotoski asks if rather than separating us, the digital world is helping us revive old tribal connections. If the internet has heralded the death of distance, what do these new kind of tribes look like? And do we relate to each other in different ways now that so much of our lives are lived online? Contributors: zoologist Desmond Morris; author of The Patter Michael Munro; academic and journalist Meredith Clark; internet activist Ethan Zuckerman and digital anthropologists Daniel Miller and Elisabetta Costa. Producer: Caitlin Smith.
26/02/1827m 57s


There's nothing more human that adapting a tool to make your life better, it's the rationale behind every innovation. Aleks Krotoski explores how our digital tools can be reinvented in powerful ways by individuals seeking a better life. Whether it's how smuggled USB sticks filled with content from the outside world inspire North Koreans to defect to the south, or the way a single photo of woman running with her hair flowing inspires a campaign against compulsory Islamic dress in Iran. What ties these stories together is hope. And it's the hope that the world can be made better that makes us look to the tools we have and how they might be re-purposed to make that a reality.
19/02/1829m 0s


In this episode of The Digital Human Aleks Krotoski asks if social media is creating a new era of shame. Psychotherapist Aaron Balick explains how shame needs a witness in order to be felt, we need to be able to see our selves through the eyes of another. If we break a social norm we are made to feel shame. Shame is a powerful emotion that can control our behaviour and infiltrate every aspect of our lives, influencing the way we live. Seraphina Ferraro's experience of shame went further, she found herself trapped in an abusive relationship by shame. Even after leaving Seraphina felt too ashamed to speak about what had happened. However, she discovered that the antidote to shame is empathy, others sharing their own experiences of shame has helped her in her recovery. Aleks explores the cost of shaming someone offline and online and the price of that shaming by those who have been shamed. Is technology increasing our ability to shame and how does this online shaming impact lives offline? Produced by Kate Bissell.
06/11/1727m 55s


For many of us the modern world is thankfully one of abundance, where we can indulge ourselves at every turn. But why is it so difficult to say when we've had enough; of foods we know aren't good for us, of TV programmes that play the next episode automatically, of the fleeting social connections we get through online platforms?As advanced as our technological world has become our brains haven't evolved much since we lived on the African Savannah. And all the things that we sought out to survive there remain hardwired into us today. And it's the consequences of that Aleks will explore. Some of the tricks nature plays on us go even further back in evolution. Take the humble if duplicitous Cuckoo, laying eggs in another bird's nest. When hatched the cuckoo chick's mouth is that bit wider, that bit redder than those it's sharing the nest with (should any other chicks have survived). The result is the deceived parents will feed it preferentially as the best bet for survival. That extra redness and wider gape is an example of a phenomena in animal behaviour called super normal stimuli. We encounter something we like but with its attributes boosted and we go mad for it, there numerous examples across the animal kingdom. The difference with humans is we've learnt to super-normally stimulate ourselves; with foods with more sugar and fat than occur in nature, with images of the opposite sex carefully manipulated to make them even more arousing. We've mastered how to push our buttons and we do it, or have it done to us repeatedly. Aleks sees how this plays out across a range of experiences from the playing of slot machines to competitive eating, to learn the tricks being played on us and how we might outsmart the tricksters. Producer: Peter McManus.
30/10/1728m 37s


Aleks Krotoski explores living in a digital world.
23/10/1727m 38s


Spam and its prevention have been a driving force in the history of the internet. It's changed laws and communities, language and culture.It comes in all shapes and forms, the most popular of which is advance fee scams. You know the drill: an agent for the widow of charitable billionaire wants to give you a share of a multi million-dollar 'inheritance'... in return for your help in getting access to it by posing as a cousin or a niece. But this type of spam isn't just a feature of digital living; it's been around a lot longer than that. The Digital Human traces the roots of the longest running spam scam in human history, before casting ahead to a world of intelligent spambots. Aleks Krotoski asks if scams are symptomatic of their time, what do they tell us about now and what do they say about us?Producer: Caitlin Smith.
16/10/1727m 44s


From funerals to the Burning the Circle festival held every year on the Isle of Aran to surgeon's scrubbing up before an operation, Aleks explores the very human experience of rites of passage and ritual and why this very human experience can help make sense of ourselves online. A modern day rite of passage could be getting your first mobile or social media account but do we have rituals to accompany these new keys to the adult world? And why should we need them? Produced by Kate Bissell.
09/10/1727m 52s


Sin eating was an age old British practice carried out by those on the fringes of their communities. When someone died the sin eater would consume a ritualistic meal over the corpse and in doing so they would take on their sins. Whether they were outcasts because of this, or to start with folklorists can't say. What is known for certain though is that they were among the poorest - who else would do it?While the practice may have died out over a hundred years ago there is a digital equivalent. Content moderators working in huge numbers across the world are fighting a losing battle both to keep horrible images from slipping into our social media feeds but also against the harm they suffer from witnessing so much gruesomeness. Aleks Krotoski will hear about what happens when you stare into the abyss for too long.Producer: Peter McManus.
02/10/1728m 39s


Aleks goes in search of silence. In our digital world has silence become harder to find, or are we looking for it in all the wrong places? Leif Haugen is a Fire watcher who spends six months of a year stationed at Toma lookout, on a mountain in Montana. He says only fire watchers who are at peace with themselves are able to stick it out. Living in silence makes you look inwards at who you really are. Silence is the absence of something but the presence of everything. Isobel Anderson suffers from tinnitus and at its peak felt like she was being tortured or stalked. The culprit wasn't an external sound that she could switch off; it was inside her brain. Her mind tuned into the inner electrical currents and motions that we all experience but hers never fade away. She knows there’s no such thing as silence but what she misses is being able to control her sound environment.Jessica Vitak is a writer who lives in London and uses technology to control her sound environment. She wears noise cancelling headphones to drown out the distractions of the city but she admits it does make her shut down a little.Dr Helen Lees is an Associate Research fellow at York St John University and she argues that being distracted by our screens means we miss out on the silent experience between people, the language of silence spoken.Produced by Kate Bissell.
15/05/1727m 55s


Aleks Krotoski tells the story of a film that doesn't exist and the online community convinced that it does. We hear from people who have come together on the online site Reddit to share their memories of the film, including a former video shop worker called Don. Many of them have very clear memories of watching Shazaam and are convinced it's disappearance is related to a strange phenomenon called The Mandela Effect, so named after the late South African activist Nelson Mandela. We follow Don on an epic journey as he tries to uncover proof. Along the way we'll encounter conspiracy theories, alternate worlds, computer simulations and a recently deceased Australian inventor called Henry Hoke. It's going to get weird. But what does this willingness to believe in something despite all evidence to the contrary tell us about the online world and the way communities form in the digital sphere? Aleks speaks with anthropologist Genevieve Bell about the stories we tell; cognitive scientist Donald Hoffman and Professor of Philosophy at Oxford University Nick Bostrom. Amelia Tait of the New Statesman explains how the story of Shazaam has evolved online. Producer: Caitlin Smith.
09/05/1727m 56s


There is an old joke that talking to yourself is first sign of madness but we now know its an essential mental tool . So how much of what we do online is that same inner speech?
01/05/1728m 10s


Geoff Lean was in a coma for a month, during this time he could hear and feel everything but it wasn't until he woke up from the coma that he realised he had also unconsciously absorbed visual information through his eyes. Aleks investigates Blindsight, one of the most curious phenomenon's in cognitive neuroscience and helps to explain how Geoff was able to see without seeing. Milena Cunning went into hospital a sighted person but when she awoke from a coma her world was completely black. A stroke had destroyed the part of the brain that allowed her to see, she later discovered that she had Blindsight. A condition which results in a loss of visual experience yet allows information unconsciously to reach the brain. It suggests there is a great deal that we are doing independently of consciousness awareness. We are able to automatically perform without conscious sight or thought. This is highlighted when we become familiar with a piece of technology it becomes automatic, we need little conscious input to use it. Aleks discovers we are able to steer our way through the world on auto pilot especially if we are performing a habit, an automatic behaviour stored in our unconscious. We all experience a form of Blindsight, like driving and having a conversation , our attention is on the conversation, so we are not conscious of actually driving. Our automatic use of the technology, the car, is stored in our unconscious mind.Professor Nillie Lavie from UCL says that what Blindsight shows us about our ability to unconsciously see coupled with how we are presented with information online influences not only how much we are subliminally influenced in a digital world but the type of information we unconsciously pick up on and absorb. Produced by Kate Bissell.
24/04/1727m 59s


Technology has always allowed us to push the boundaries of what's real and not real. From filters on our holiday snaps to recreating life in a laboratory. Is it any wonder then that amidst all this 21st century noise we're searching for an authentic voice?But what authenticity actually is can be difficult to define, particularly in the digital sphere where filters, artifice and simulation are part of the fabric of how we engage on social media. From Aristotle to Frankenstein, to politicians tweeting from the bathroom, Aleks Krotoski goes in search of the authentic, taking a look at the drivers behind our preoccupation with allowing others to see 'the real self'. Contributors include: science writer Philip Ball, Stephen Lussier of DeBeers, sociologist Ruth Penfold-Mounce, author Professor Andrew Potter, Dr Suzy Jagger and Instagrammer Stina Sanders.Producer: Caitlin Smith.
17/04/1727m 48s


We seem to be living in a world of polarised opinions giving rise to increasingly angry exchanges on television, print and of course social media. Aleks Krotoski asks how online anger works and is it a symptom or the cause of the problem. An enormous Chinese study demonstrated that angry content is the most shared across the web while US researchers have asserted that while we might not be any angrier than in the past we encounter much more angering content than ever before and that anger lingers priming us for the net encounter.Aleks makes the comparison with another increasingly congested space that of our roads; an environment where similar mechanisms of anonymity and depersonalisation are at play. She concludes by discussing the social role of anger and why so many groups have begun to rely on it to get their way.
10/04/1729m 19s


Aleks Krotoski explores life in the digital world. What makes us laugh and why? And when so much of the web is there to tickle our funny bone, does anyone ever laugh out loud?
14/11/1628m 49s


The world we experience through screen based technology is two dimensional which some argue creates distance between the viewer and the viewed but can modern day virtual reality story telling using a three dimensional perspective go further than any other medium of technology to enable us to really experience the lives of others, to walk in another man's shoes? Vicky Sutherland is mum to eight year old Arron who suffers from autism. Vicky tries to see the world through Arron's eyes as he suffers from sensory overload but for the first time she watches a virtual reality experience produced by The National Autistic Society which shows the world from the perspective of an autistic child experiencing sensory overload. She discovers whether this gives her a new perspective into Arron's experience of the world around him. Imogen Blood's father John Hull lost his sight over a number of years, while she tried to understand what it was like for her father she only fully appreciated how sound became such an anchor in his world of darkness when she watched the virtual reality film Notes On Blindness: Into Darkness, which features John's use of echo location in order to navigate the world around him. And Aleks speaks to Gabo Arora the Director of the UN's Virtual Reality Lab who has produced several virtual reality films including Clouds Over Sidra featuring 12 years old Syrian refugee Sidra. As Sidra introduces the viewer to life in a refugee camp, Aleks questions whether these types of films reduce the distance between the viewer and the viewed, changing our perspective and increasing our empathy because we are able to walk in another person's shoes. Produced by Kate Bissell.
07/11/1628m 0s


So much of our experience of technology can feel a bit like being haunted. It starts like any good ghost story with the just mildly unsettling; things aren't were you left them or seem to have moved on their own within our devices. Its a creepy feeling that leaves you unsure about what to believe. Our understanding of how much of technology works is so limited that when it starts to behave out of the ordinary we have no explanation. This is when we start to make very peculiar judgement's; "why did you do that" we plead, as if some hidden force was at work. For some these feelings of being haunted by our technology can develop into full blown apparitions; keen gamers frequently experience Game transfer Phenomena where they literally see images of their game play in the real world, an involuntary augmented reality. While the hallucinations aren't necessarily distressing in themselves the experiences can leave individuals questioning their sanity.The coming internet of things will bring problems of its own; smart locks that mysteriously open by themselves for example as if under the influence of some poltergeist. Aleks herself has had the experience of digital 'gas lighting' (a term drawn from an Ingrid Bergman movie of a woman being driven mad by husband) when her partner logged on to their home automation system remotely and started to mess with the lights while Aleks was home alone. As one commentator puts it in a reworking of the old Arthur C. Clarke quote "any sufficiently advanced hacking is indistinguishable from haunting." And as our devices and appliances increasingly start talking to each other bypassing us altogether who's to say we, like Nicole Kidman's character in The Others, haven't become the ghost in the machine.Producer: Peter McManus.
31/10/1628m 12s


Our records define us - birth records, death records, crime records, marriage records - but what if you don't want to be defined by your records? And how do our physical and digital traces say affect us? In this episode of The Digital Human, Aleks explores these questions by hearing three very different tales of recorded lives...
24/10/1628m 3s


In the spring of 1996, an enterprising American college student named Jennifer Ringley connected a webcam to her computer and began seven years of uninterrupted self-exposure. JenniCAM, as she eventually named it, was the first no-holds-barred lifelogging experiment on the world wide web. Every 15 seconds, the webcam uploaded another still image - from the mundane to the erotic - exposing the uncensored life of a young woman coming of age. The web at the time of JenniCAM was still in its infancy: this was before Google made it navigable, before the dotcom bubble began to inflate, and before Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was out of short trousers. Compared with the modern world of universal broadband access, instant feedback and streaming video, it was achingly slow: websites with pictures took entire minutes to download, and publishing anything required expert knowledge in at least one computer language. JenniCAM represented our self-aware future, the place we inhabit in the second decade of the 21st century, now that 82% of American adults use the web, and the average amount of time we spend online doubles every five years. We have evolved into the people that JenniCAM represented: both the voyeur and the viewed. Twenty years after Jennifer first switched on her webcam, we retrace some of her steps and wonder why, at a time when everyone else has gone online, she's switched off... Produced by Victoria McArthur.
18/10/1627m 59s


The way the digital world is presented to us can be alienating and obfuscating, bad metaphors like the cloud or the slow tracking shots between the banks of servers can make us forget that these networks are built and maintained by human beings. They can appear as something vast, unfathomable and otherworldly - a kind of digital sublime. Yet they exist in the same world as we do and have a physicality that's often lost on us. Aleks leads us on an exploration of this physicality from the digital temples of the data centre to the fragments that populate our city streets. In appreciating this physicality and its beauty we'll be reminded that this is not something we should feel excluded from or can't have an opinion about or indeed imagine differently.Producer: Peter McManus.
10/10/1628m 40s


Why does a parent's awe over their child's ability with technology turn so quickly to fear? Aleks Krotoski explores the anxieties at the heart of modern parenting and tech.
09/05/1628m 1s

Lost and Found

From lost cameras, dogs, cats, phones and people, we are turning to the web to find what we have lost. Aleks explores whether you are more likely to find what you've lost using online social networks? Are we as connected as we think we are? Or does it make more sense to step out of the digital world and search with the help of physical social networks?Produced by Kate Bissell.
02/05/1627m 50s


Aleks Krotoski compares our intuitive way-finding skills to those of the digital world and finds out why describing the best way from A to B still poses problems for tech.Simon Wheatcroft is an adventurer who's run all over the world and at distances that would make marathon runners shudder, he's also blind, he explains how he combined the sensations he gets underfoot with notifications from his fitness app to learn to run solo.Combining cues from the world around you to find your way is Tristan Gooley's passion. As the Natural Navigator he uses anything natural or man made not only to find out where he is but where he's going. He eschews all navigational tools; maps compasses as well as digital devices in the belief that the head down follow the dot mentality they foster impoverishes our experience of the journey itself. Thora Tenbrink from Bangor University explains why the directions we receive from our devices often feel so alien that we really have to focus to make sense of them. While tech can use street names and exact distances, humans are vague navigators heading in the general direction and using landmarks. The two approaches aren't always that compatible. Our natural way-finding abilities can let us down though when we're under stress. Professor David Canter has been studying behaviour in emergency evacuations for much of his career, he explains the sometimes odd and contradictory things we resort to when trying to escape a disaster. So should we look to technology to come to the rescue? We hear from researchers at Georgia tech who explored how far participants would trust a robot to save them from a burning building - apparently quite a lot! Producer: Peter McManus.
25/04/1628m 35s


Food is a universal necessity, human brains light up more for food than any other experience, so it's little wonder that food culture has exploded online. Social media is festooned with pictures, recipes, cooking videos and we can't seem to ever get enough.But, is the digital world doing more than getting our mouths watering? Could technology be changing the very way we taste?In this episode, Aleks Krotoski explores how food trends develop and shape our culture and spread on social media, as well as exploring new tech that may change the way we eat - from 3D printed delights, to Chef Watson who creates recipes in the cloud, and even how we might manipulate our brains to change how we perceive flavour.Producer: Elizabeth Ann Duffy.
18/04/1627m 51s


In The Digital Human: Home Aleks asks what turns a space into a place and whether we really need bricks and mortar anymore, when home can be anywhere you can go online.Aleks visits Porter Ranch just outside of Los Angeles where residents were told to evacuate because of a gas leak. Linda Matthies decided to stay despite fears over her health. Her sense of home focuses strongly on the comforts of home and her many possessions acquired over her lifetime. Her sense of home is very much tied up with the physical.In contrast Josh Surtees was able to create a digital space that he could call home. Josh moved to Trinidad to work as a journalist. He fell in love and when his girlfriend moved to London after two months they created a virtual home through skype and successfully continued their relationship.In Downtown LA Aleks meets Elvina Beck a digital nomad who has started a company allowing millennials to rent a communal pod with wifi access that they can make home. For her home is mobile, as long as there is online access, home can be anywhere.Architect Sam Jacobs understands the important link between home and identity. He argues that the division between the private realm iof home and the public realm is breaking down because people are exposing their identities online. Home is now one of the places that you can in fact broadcast your identity to a much wider audience.Travel writer Pico Iyer realised when he saw his home in California burn to the ground that home is not about bricks or mortar or access to wifi but should be found within ourselves.The idea of the 21st entury house, is not actually that old so will digital technologies change how and were we decide to live in the future.Produced by Kate Bissell.
11/04/1627m 54s


In the 1st of a new series Aleks Krotoski gets down to work. From micro-taskers paid pennies to be the janitors of our digital services to car drivers jumping on the Uber bandwagon. Aleks speaks to technology writer Kashmir Hill who spent a month as an invisible girlfriend writing loving texts to service subscribers for a few cents per message. This is just one example of 'micro-tasking' made famous by Amazon's Mechanical Turk service. For Vili Lehdonvirta of the Oxford internet institute they're examples of the hidden human effort going into services we would assume were automated. Its a new form of piece work undertaken by a causal workforce doing it where and when it suits them. This type of work treats you like part of a system managed by algorithms an artificial, artificial intelligence. In some senses this isn't anything new as work historian Richard Donkin explains using the examples of the time and motion studies pioneered by Fredrick Winslow Taylor and later taken up by Henry Ford. What is new is that having an algorithm as a boss runs the risk of having only the appearance of freedom and flexibility. Its what attracts people to the so called gig economy, where tasks are farmed out by the app to a willing freelance workforce. Aleks hears both sides of that experience from two people who make their living off a digital platform; one by day and the other by night.So what promise do these new forms of digital work offer? Aleks discovers they have the potential to be both a race to the bottom for labour markets and usher in a new era for those currently unable to work.Producer: Peter McManus.
04/04/1627m 56s


Imagination is an essential component of what makes us human, it's complexity and artistry separating us from other animals as well as machines. Yet as digital technology progresses it's beginning to model this, once believed mystical, process.Aleks Krotoski explores the implications of this latest stage of digital evolution. Could the digital world fill the gap for people who are unable to imagine? Does the production of imaginative arts such as poetry indicate a level of humanity in our machines? And if computers can indeed be programmed to imagine, what does this mean for the beauty and artistry of the human mind?Producer: Elizabeth Ann Duffy.
16/11/1527m 37s


Since ancient Greece and probably before we've always used metaphors drawn from our current technology to understand our bodies. From the time of Newton we thought of the body as an elaborate clockwork device, the industrial revolution brought us the steam engine and the body became a system of pressures and levers. Aleks Krotoski asks what metaphor prevails in the digital era and what shortcomings in our understanding accompany these analogies.Producer: Peter McManus.
09/11/1528m 4s


Aleks Krotoski explores living in a digital world.
02/11/1528m 5s


The online world abounds with doppelgangers, cyber-twins, bots and mind-clones; in this Halloween episode of The Digital Human Aleks Krotoski explores the uncanny world of these digital doubles.On the most simple level social networks and the now seemingly permanent cult of the selfie means that finding our visual double has never been easier. And its the appeal of this that was the inspiration for Niamh Gearney's website Twin Strangers where people register to hopefully track down their double. Niamh herself has found 3 doubles and she hopes to track down 7 having found that number in researching doppelganger myths.For artist Daniel Bejar sharing his name with a famous musician has turned the online world into a battlefield for identity an idea he's exploring by changing his appearance to that of his more famous namesake and posting pictures to the web. While for Joanna McNeil she created her own cyber-twin; a bot to share answering her emails and messages. She hoped this would help her understand the ways in which emotion is conveyed online by delegating communication to an algorithm.Its how the digital world makes doppelgangers of us all that fascinates Sara M Watson; technology critic and affiliate of the Berkman centre for internet and society at Harvard. We catch glimpses of these shadowy digital doppelgangers in ads that don't quite match who we think we are online or in recommendations make us feel uneasy. Its the attempts at personalisation of our digital experiences that she compares to the idea of the uncanny valley of robotics when something is so close to being human that it becomes repellent.Producers: Peter McManus and Elizabeth Ann Duffy
26/10/1528m 37s


Aleks Krotoski delves into vigilantism on the web and looks at the moral and philosophical implications of fighting the good fight in a digital space. Can we consider the web to be a superhero?
20/10/1527m 54s


In the first of the new series, Aleks Krotoski explores how the web has influenced detection, from uncovering Osama Bin Laden to discovering the identity of long-abandoned Jane and John Does.As human beings, what is it in our nature that drives us to find out the end of the story - even when that story has nothing to do with us? The online world has made the detective mystery one in which we can all play a role. Hundreds of cold cases have been re-examined and re-explored by cyber sleuths around the world - and some cases have picked up definitive leads from eagle-eyed members of the public. But what are the implications for law enforcement, and how does detection work when so many of us are playing outside of the rules? Producer: Victoria McArthur.
12/10/1527m 56s


Aleks Krotoski explores if we have all become digital hoarders. When our digital junk drawers are bigger than we can comprehend, do we lose the sense of what is worth keeping?
18/05/1528m 23s


Aleks talks to Tinder users Harriet Southgate and Kira Cheers who speak not only about the seductive nature of the app, but how they promote the gamification of dating. Biological anthropologist, Helen Fisher argues that dating apps like Tinder and Grindr can cause cognitive overload because humans are just not used to having so much choice when it comes to picking a date. Aleks also speaks with Paul Ross, known as the Father of Seduction, about a rather chilling and systemised approach to seduction and explores whether dating apps are in fact missing out the slow play of the seduction process.Produced by Kate Bissell Researched by Elizabeth Ann Duffy
11/05/1527m 47s

Rear Window

Aleks Krotoski explores the basic human impulse of people watching. We are aware how we perform when we know we are being looked at online but hear little about those watching.
04/05/1528m 2s


Aleks Krotoski explores the overlap between technology and the natural world and how the two co-exist.
29/04/1527m 43s


Arthur C. Clarke's 3rd law goes "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." So does that apply to the modern digital world, Aleks Krotoski asks the question with some surprising results. From people living under the 'curse' of electro-sensitivity to the rituals we all go through to ward off evil spirits like updating our anti-virus software.And she'll speak to the people teaching the language magic to technologists. In a world of install wizards and demon programmes why is the vocabulary of magic so powerful and what does that mean for our understanding of how our technology works.Producer: Peter McManus.
20/04/1528m 29s


Secret holders share why and how they have used the internet to disclose their most intimate or well kept secrets - how does a compulsion to confess in a public setting effect those who the secret is about? And can this audition of secrets online naturally lead to revealing them offline?Aleks talks to her high school friends to unravel the secrecy about SARGON, an open secret society at her high schoo,l which she was never invited to join. She discovers the power of secrets for those on the inside and outside of SARGON. Could such a society exist today in the presence of social media?We also hear from Frank Warren the secret keeper of the online website and app PostSecret. Yorick Pheonix who used PostSecret to air a secret kept for 30 years tells us why he was happy to use such a public setting to explain that he kept his daughter a secret from his family. Aleks addresses the ownership of secrets and how the internet can impact on this. We hear from Yorick's daughter, Rachael about how she feels that her father's secret, which is also her own, is online for all to hear.And former MI6 officer Harry Fergusson talks about context collapse and how he managed to keep his work and family life separate.Producer: Kate BissellDigi Human graffiti by NOIR aka Glynn Judd.
13/04/1527m 38s


If a driverless car has to choose between crashing you into a school bus or a wall who do you want to be programming that decision? Aleks Krotoski explores ethics in technology. Join Aleks as she finds out if it's even possible for a device to 'behave' in a morally prescribed way through looking at attempts to make a smart phone 'kosher'. But nothing captures the conundrum quite like the ethical questions raised by driverless cars and it's the issues they raise that she explores with engineer turned philosopher Jason Millar and robot ethicist Kate Darling.Professor of law and medicine Sheila MacLean offers a comparison with how codes of medical ethics were developed before we hear the story of Gus a 13 year old whose world was transformed by SIRI. Producer Peter McManus.
17/11/1428m 7s


Aleks Krotoski examines what digital mapping has meant for our understanding of the world. Are we always aware of the decisions that make them look the way they do? Traditionally of course maps are as "authored" as anything else. As Simon Garfield writer of On the Map: Why the world looks the way it does , explains we should think of maps like the biography of a famous person; highly subjective and usually with some sort of angle.We hear this authorship at work when we join Bob Egan of PopSpotsNYC; he maps out where famous album cover photos were taken in his native New York and puts them online for us all to visit. We join him on the hunt through Google maps and on the streets as tracks down his latest quarry. Bob is adding his own layer of information to the digital mapping of our world for Dr Mark Graham of the Oxford Internet Institute this is happening all around us.And it's this phenomenon that makes the understanding of the choices that go into making our maps even more important. We hear about the experience of paleo-anthropologist Prof Lee Berger and how hidden choices in GPS data he was using nearly cost him the most important discovery of his career. Aleks then explores if the so called "open mapping" movement hold the answer to eliminating some of issues created by digital maps with the example of Christchurch recovery map -a crowd sourced map that was created within hours of the Christchurch earth quake of 2012.
10/11/1428m 32s


We live in a world where the nostalgia for the past now permeates our present.With online trends like 'Throw Back Thursdays', apps like Timehop and platforms which gives you the tools to make your digital image look like it was taken with an analogue camera, the internet has never seemed so backwards-facing.In this week's episode of The Digital Human, Aleks Krotoski visits imagined worlds and eras long past to explore whether the web is a nostalgia machine.We speak with Professor of Svetlana Boym to trace the origins of the word back to homesick Swiss mercenaries in the 17th century, visit a water park in New Jersey which was reborn through the collective power of online nostalgia and take tea with a vintage enthusiast, who divides his time between working as an air host in a high-flying company, with living in the 1940s.Producer: Caitlin Smith.
03/11/1427m 59s


What happens when we abandon a place? And why is it so difficult for us to leave these places behind? In this episode, Aleks explores abandon both on and offline. We tell the story of the only permanent resident of Fukushima's radiation exclusion zone. Naoto Matsura stayed in Tomioka while everyone around him fled. He's now the unofficial caretaker of this abandoned town. Aleks contrasts this with a remarkable example of digital abandon. Meridian 59 was the first massively multiplayer online game. When newer competitors arrived on the scene, many players left. The game has been abandoned and restarted several times over since. Aleks hears from the hardcore community of players who refuse to let the game disappear entirely.
27/10/1427m 43s


We communicate with each other in more ways than ever and with an ever expanding range of devices and platforms. But they all piggy back on an earlier invention, our original social networking technology - language.In this edition of the Digital Human Aleks Krotoski explores the idea of language as a technology itself and how people over the years have attempted to improve it; re-engineer it for maximum efficiency, or use it as a lever of social change. She speaks to Professor David Crystal about how we're living through a period of rapid language growth comparable to the renaissance or industrial revolution. Evolutionary biologist Mark Pagel explains how we can consider language as a technology devised by natural selection while linguist Arika Okrent charts the attempts down the years by those who think they can perfect the function of language by devising their own.Producer: Peter McManus.
20/10/1428m 27s


Our brains are still running security software designed to protect us against lions, tigers and bears and we haven't run an update for about 200,000 years. Aleks Krotoski explores how well it works when faced with the risks of the digital world. According David Ropeik author and risk communication expert at Harvard University the modern technological world presents our risk perception abilities with much more complex and abstract problems than it was ever designed to cope with. For him we feel risk rather calculate it so whether its cyber-terrorism or climate change if the risk doesn't immediately push our risk buttons we simply don't know how to react with the risk of getting risk wrong.And no-where can the risks seem more abstract than in the digital world. Aleks explores how we respond to the dangers that lurk there through a range of stories. We spend time being driven round the Channel island of Jersey in the company of Toni an 18 year old who gives lifts to people she's only ever met through Facebook, we'll hear how a professional online poker player uses the minimal information she can glean about other players to know when to bet big and Aleks will also discover how even a walk in the park can put our technology and the private information we keep there in jeopardy. Producer: Peter McManus.
13/10/1428m 3s


Aleks explores how the digital world has changed our idea of selling. In a world where every click is a selling opportunity either for us or to us, how do we take advantage of the one without being taken in by the other?
14/05/1427m 51s


Digital devices operate in binary ways; either they're working or they're a brick! Aleks Krotoski asks what this means for our natural instincts as tool builders and tool breakers?As technology becomes more resistant to prying fingers and minds are we losing the ability to imagine it differently? Take the dying art of tuning an engine it can make cars faster and more efficient but only comes through a symbiotic relationship between mechanic and machine and of course every child knows the joy of taking something apart to see how it works at least until they're caught doing itAre these the same sensibilities we see in the digital world? From hacking to playing a video game in such a perverse way as to see if it can be broken? Do the constraints of digital technology lock us out of our devices; licensing us to only use them in the prescribed ways, that while convenient are also dis-empowering?Producer: Peter McManus.
05/05/1428m 8s


Aleks krotoski asks how human beings can cope with a world saturated by data. For some it is clay to be moulded and built with while for others it is the route to self knowledge. But it exists in overwhelming volumes like grains of sand on a beach. Turning it into things we can understand is now an imperative and artists and designers around the world are constantly looking for ways to summarise and symbolise what we are learning about the world around us through this tsunami of numbers.The programme's contributors include designers Brendan Dawes and Nicholas Felton, Professor of philosophy at the Oxford Internet Institute Luciano Floridi, Scientist and composer Domenico Vicinanza, writer Amelia Abreu. Producer: Peter McManus.
28/04/1428m 1s


Today tens of thousands of people run the Boston marathon amidst tight security. A year ago two bombs were detonated at the finishing line, killing three and injuring 260. Social media went into overdrive as people frantically pieced together clues which might lead them to the bombers. From this patchwork of evidence two suspects emerged and rumours began to spread.During the London riots in 2011 people tweeted photos of the London Eye ablaze. Rumours circulated that rioters had broken into the zoo and released wild animals. A tiger was even spotted prowling around in Primrose Hill; there was even a grainy picture to prove it.We seem to be spending less time verifying facts and more time believing things that fits in with what feels right. Is technology helping or hindering the flow of good information? Do we need to think before we retweet? In this episode of The Digital Human, Aleks explores how rumours spread both online and in the physical world and discovers how in the echo chamber of social media falsehoods repeat until they become truth. Contributors: Alexis Madrigal of The Atlantic, psychologist Nicholas DiFonzo, computer scientist Kalina Bontcheva, DJ Russ Gibb, Twiggy Garcia and Ty Evans.Producer: Caitlin Smith.
21/04/1427m 46s


In this week's Digital Human, Aleks Krotoski asks if the digital world is robbing us of our voices. When we'd rather text or message than speak to someone, are we still listening?We're in a golden age of creating and sharing pictures, video and text, but what about the spoken word? Podcasts bring global radio to our ears, but when it comes to talking amongst ourselves, we're choosing not to speak. What role does the voice play in the 21st century - and now that there are so many other options - is it still relevant?
14/04/1428m 6s


Aleks Krotoski explores the technology of time keeping. As clocks get more accurate and time becomes more abstract what does that mean for how we experience it?The accurate keeping of time allows our technological world to keep spinning and since earliest times has been central to how civilisation has developed. From the earliest mechanical clocks, the supercomputers of their day to the first wearable technology or pocket watch they've been at the forefront of technological advancement.But what has 'clock time' done to how we experience the passage of time? Aleks will find out as she visits the earliest time recording device ever discovered, in a muddy Aberdeen-shire field some 5000 years older than Stone Henge. In contrast she sees how modern time is produced by the atomic clocks of the BIPM in Paris, its here that time for the world is produced, sychronising everything from power grids to GPS satellites and the internet. She also explores how we experience time subjectively and what that means for how we perceive the world. Finally she hears from someone who tried to live without clocks and what that meant for his experience of time.Contributors: Prof. Vince Gaffney, Artist Cathy Haynes, Neuroscientist David Eagleman, Professional base jumper Karina Holkeim and writer and software developer Steve Corona.Producer: Peter McManus.
07/04/1427m 55s


Do you feel in control of your technology, or is it the other way round?In this last episode of the current series of The Digital Human Aleks Krotoski asks if we could all do with a detox from our digital devices. It's a question she's increasingly been asking herself, which brings her to the couch of cyber addiction therapist Chris Mulligan. While there is no classification of cyber addiction in any psychiatric manual in the world there are clearly people who have problems switching off from games or what they're looking at online.Does the answer lie in how technology has hijacked the reward systems of our brains? Kelly Mcgonigal is a neuroscientist at Stanford University and has made a special study of willpower and the challenges we face in modern living. She's been researching how social information is profoundly addictive to the modern human brain. Aleks also hears about different approaches to solving the problem and keeping our technology use under control. Author Evgeny Morozov locks his phone and router cable in a time locked safe, while Susan Maushart took herself and her family offline for 6 months to kick-start a more mindful and deliberate approach to technology use.But are these methods no more than sticking plasters and is it to ourselves and how we relate to our technology that we should look to rebalance this relationship. Producer Peter McManus.
17/02/1428m 0s


Aleks Krotoski explores our lives in the digital world. This week she asks, are our connected modern lives making us lonelier than ever?
17/02/1428m 2s


Here be trolls…What is it about the digital world that encourages normal people to disregard the rules of everyday life? Is it the cloak of anonymity the net offers? The social rules of online communities? Or simply human nature?This week, Aleks Krotostki delves into the dark side of the digital world to explore whether or not the internet fuels the breakdown of social and moral boundaries. She speaks to a troll who claims Jesus and Socrates as her forebears, Dave Eshleman who was one of the guards in the infamous Stanford Prison Experiment and Professor Alex Haslam who recreated the experiment for the BBC, with startlingly different results.
10/02/1428m 4s


Aleks Krotoski returns with a new series exploring our lives in a digital age and on April Fool's day she explores whether mischief is an essential part of the online world. Mischief performs many functions in our society; the individual can use it to find their place in the world, while it can also level the playing field between the powerful and powerless. Follow and join the conversation on Twitter with #digihuman and find even more background on . There's never been a greater engine of mischief than the internet. Aleks hears first from writers Tim Wright and Rob Bevan. Like all writers, procrastination and distraction are constant companions but if your speciality is digital storytelling, the temptation to play tricks can be irresistible. When Tim decided to construct a hoax for Rob, little did he know just how consuming it would become and how it would affect how they go about storytelling. We also hear from US history professor T Mills Kelly about his course 'Lying about the Past' where he prepares his students for sifting through all the historical mischief making online. Lewis Hyde is a respected author whose titles include Trickster Makes This World or How The Disruptive Imagination Creates Culture. He explains the role of the trickster in myth and legend and what we can learn from these figures about the evolution of the digital world.Throughout the programme Aleks will also hear from psychiatrist turned stand-up Taylor Glenn about what's like to be a professional mischief maker. Producers Victoria McArthur and Peter McManus.
31/01/1428m 9s


Join Aleks Krotoski as she explores chance in the digital world. Can life - changing encounters really be bottled, sold and exploited and what does the digital world promise for a future of serendipity. Can it really be engineered by digital systems?
31/01/1428m 0s

Last Word

At the Digital Death Day Aleks meets with Vered Shavit from Israel who having dealt with her late brother's digital legacy set up a website called Digital Dust to help others going through the same experience. Hearing Vered's story Alek's asks how are we using the web to adapt the rituals that we have used for centuries to help us transition between the living and the dead?Aleks discovers that since Vered's brother's death people continue to communicate with him through his Facebook profile. Dr Elaine Kasket a Counselling Psychologist who practices psychotherapy with the bereaved likens Facebook to a modern day medium. She also explains how Facebook is enabling people to continue bonds with the deceased. The distinction between our physical selves and mental states is a philosophical construction, but it signifies a line in the sand between those who believe our bodies make us human and those who define humanity by our thoughts and social lives. But after our death can our persisting digital selves continue our presence for those left behind? Produced by Kate Bissell.
31/01/1427m 53s


Aleks Krotoski explores the digital world. In today's programme have we all become cyborgs without even knowing it?We've always extended our human bodies ever since we first picked up rocks or sticks as tools, it's part of human nature. So are the digital tools of today any different? Aleks asks just how far we've come and are willing to go to become one with our technology and become cyborg.Aleks hears from film maker Rob Spence better known as Eyeborg about the reaction he gets to the camera he has where his right eye used to be. It's a different type of eye artist and composer Neil Harbisson uses, born entirely colour blind Neil uses an electronic eye on an antenna attached to his skull to hear colours it's now such a part of how Neil perceives the world that he hears the colours in his dreams!Brandy Ellis is a very different type of cyborg; having suffered from depression for years she opted to have electronics implanted in her brain to control her symptoms. Her feelings are literally regulated by a machine.Ultimately Aleks finds out from anthropologist Amber Case how we're all every bit as cyborg as Rob, Neil or Brandy in how we coexist symbiotically with our digital devices.
31/01/1427m 48s


Aleks Krotoski looks at whether how we tell stories has changed with the digital world. And it looks like it has much more to do with our distant past that we might think.She begins by looking at the online phenomena of the Slender Man a supernatural figure that's been appearing in pictures, blogs and YouTube movies since 2009 and is described as the first great myth of the web.Aleks speaks to AS Byatt to understand what story is for before examining how modern online storytelling bears a striking resemblance to oral traditions of medieval times. To see this in action she explores the growth of the Slender Man myth and how its community based evolution mimics how legends grew in the past.But for many of these stories they still don't make the most of what the digital world has to offer storytellers. For this Aleks turns to Alison Norrington one of the world's leading proponents of trans-media stories.
31/01/1427m 57s


Aleks Krotoski looks at whether we've all become techno-fundamentalists. Do we know what all our technology is for or more intriguingly what it wants?Aleks hears from Douglas Rushkoff about how the whole of the world around us has always been programmed by architects, religion, and politics. But it's something we seem to have forgotten about technology itself. Tom Chatfield discusses how the biases of technology (the things it naturally tends towards or is best at) interplay with human nature to turn much of our interaction with technology into some sort of perverse game.But some of these biases like the end use of technology only emerge once people start to use it. Kevin Kelly is one of the world's most respected commentators on technology he believes that the biases of all our technology put together start to combine so that it behave very much like an organism. His provocative theories are detailed in his book What does Technology want?We explore these theories by discussing our biggest technologies; the city and whether the latest innovations aiming to make our city's smarter and more sustainable hint at a better future relationship with the world of technology.
31/01/1428m 1s


Aleks speaks to Grandmaster of memory, Ed Cooke who thinks memory is going out of fashion because of our reliance on digital devices. Mastermind champion and London cabbie Fred Housego explains how he relies on 'The Knowledge' to navigate London but relies on his wife's short term memory to remember dates for engagements, shopping lists, phone numbers. Psychologist Betsy Sparrow explains that this is known as transactive memory and it's exactly what we are doing with our digital devices. Cyborg Anthropologist, Amber Chase explains that in the past we had physical extensions of ourselves, for example with tools, but we now have mental extensions of ourselves, with our digital devices acting as externalised brains, changing our sense of self.Aleks discovers that the way we remember is not only changing our perceptions of self but challenging the very concept of intelligence. Aleks hears that the smart kid of the past memorized lots of data but the smart kid of the future will know how to navigate the system and how to understand concepts. This is exactly what 15 year old US high school pupil, Jack Andraka did when he discovered a new test for pancreatic cancer using the internet. With little background knowledge and armed only with what he knew from biology classes he scoured the web for papers that helped him make connections that will potentially save thousands of lives. The way we use our memory is changing but as Psychologist Betsy Sparrow explains we are only responding to our surroundings and evolving as we always have. Producer: Kate Bissell.
31/01/1427m 27s


Aleks Krotoski explores what the digital world tells us about ourselves. This week: Influence. How has the digital world changed the way opinions are voiced and shaped?
31/01/1427m 38s


Aleks Krotoski returns with a new series of explorations of our digital world.In the first in the series Aleks looks at how different cultures are preserving their identity in the face of the homogenising effects of technology.There's a fear that the digital world will make us all the same. But that doesn't seem that well founded if you look at how widely differing cultures are using technology to express their identity and values. We look at the music sharing culture of Mali in West Africa as explored by musicologist Chris Kirkley and hear from the vibrant and intoxicating atmosphere of the mobile phone music market in Mali's capital Bamako. Back in the UK we look at the interesting way immigrant communities maintain their cultural ties through technology and the unexpected effect this has on the growth of immigrant communities.Aleks also talks to explorer in residence Robin Hanbury-Tenison about his thoughts on how technology might be undermining cultures. Does he see the spread of digital as a new form of cultural imperialism? Producer Peter McManusOther areas of the digital world to be explored in this series include: How opinion and influence spread in a digital worldWhat all this new technology means for how we learn? Do we always know what technology is for and ultimately what it wants?Has the digital world changed our perceptions and discussions of death?
31/01/1428m 7s


Aleks Krotoski looks at group think in the digital world.
28/01/1427m 57s


Join Aleks Krotoski as she explores love in the digital world. Can love be love when we're deprived of the sensory connections of face-to-face interaction? Love online doesn't need to be as wayward or incidental as it is in real life. In fact, Aleks will be hearing from those who think that love in the digital age leads to far deeper connections than we might imagine.
27/01/1427m 41s


In this weeks edition of The Digital Human Aleks looks at what we believe and why. With a search for God throwing up nearly 2billion hits the claims that the internet would be death of religion seem a little hollow. So why does our web search for answers bring some people to god and turn others away? And why do we invest such faith in the answer we find online anyway? Aleks will look at technology as a force multiplier for religions and discover if we ever need to go to church again to practice a faith.
27/01/1428m 1s


What is the biggest threat to our privacy: governments, corporate entities or our friends? And do people have different attitudes towards privacy depending on their culture?
27/01/1427m 29s


Control is one of the big attractions of living in the digital world, we only post the best pictures of ourselves enjoying the best parts of our lives. But does that mean we start to treat our lives more like a brand, to be sold to our friends and protected from anything negative? Aleks Krotoski talks to Sherry Turkle director of MIT's Initiative on Technology and the Self to ask if this could cause us problems. She'll also find out what happens when you give up control of your online life or have it taken over.Contributors:Aidan Moffat @AidanJohnMoffatSherry Turkle @STurkleDavid White @daveowhiteCharlie McDonnell @coollikeAndy Zaltzman @hellobuglers
27/01/1427m 34s


Aleks Krotoski asks not just what technology can do for us but also what is it doing to us and the world we're creating? Each week she takes us on a journey to where people are living their digital lives to explore how technology touches everything we do both on and offline.Taking broad themes of modern living as a starting point she charts the experiences of homo digitas; both the remarkable and the mundane, to understand how we are changing just as quickly as the advances in our technology.What does the deluge of images from digital photography mean for our memory when every second is being recorded, edited and posted online for posterity? Are the identities we create in social media no more than exercises in personal branding, to be managed and protected like any other product? And as traditional churches struggle to leverage technology to spread their faith do the behaviours we all display online have more in common with religion than rationality?The time for wonder at the digital world is over, we live with it in every day. The question really is who are we now because of it?
27/01/1427m 50s


Aleks Krotoski explores how technology can give someone back a life that had seemed gone forever.From a 93 year old painter whose failing eyesight has left him no option than to turn to technology, to an agoraphobic blogger who shares her thoughts on fashion online; technology can be the only means some people can express the things that are most important to them. Aleks Krotoski explores the stories of individuals who've become reliant on technology to keep living the lives they love. She also discovers if this can be a trap for some robbing them of the will to tackle their problems head on.Contributors: Hal Lasko (the pixel painter), Ryan Lasko, Ron Lasko, Sera McDaid, Dr Jennifer Wild, Dr Skip RizzoProducer: Peter McManus.
11/11/1328m 27s


We might want to drown it out in light, but, as Aleks Krotoski discovers, darkness can be good for us. Electric light tampers with our circadian rhythms. Now we can light up any part of the day, our body isn't shutting off to sleep as easily as it once did. Aleks discovers the way that technology is starting to recognise this on both a personal level and a societal level. Produced by Victoria McArthur.
04/11/1327m 58s


When almost anything we want is available to buy at the click of mouse and so much content is available for free, is the digital changing how we value things?Aleks Krotoski explores our sense of worth in this new world where the only thing that's scarce is scarcity itself. Do we connect with our possessions differently and in the end what is it that makes something valuable to us.ContributorsNicholas Lovell author of The Curve, Professor Chris Speed from Edinburgh University, Auctioneer and Valuer Anita Manning, Composer and Roboticist Sarah AnglissProducer Peter McManus.
28/10/1328m 30s


Aleks Krotoski explores whether technology has impaired our ability to wander. Now that off-grid is on-grid and we can send emails from mountaintops, have we sacrificed the pleasure of travelling to discover new places and ourselves?
21/10/1328m 11s


Every week a million more people move to live in cities. Can they cope with this constant expansion? Aleks explores whether 'Smart' cities are the answer or do they come with a hidden price of personal freedom. She visits the world's "smartest" city, Masdar in Abu Dhabi and explores the social engineering that's as much part of the design as the bricks and mortar.Contributors: Physicist Geoffrey West, Urban Explorer Brad Garrett, Lean Doody from ARUP, Dr Iyad Rahwan, Architect and Artist Usman Haque.Producer: Peter McManus.
14/10/1328m 22s


Aleks Krotoski explores what technology tells us about ouselves and the age we live in. In this first programme; is the digital world allowing us to be more altruistic than ever?So can true altruism exist online? With all the stories of cyber-bullying and trolling it's very easy to forget the random acts of kindness that the technology also allows. Aleks explores some amazing stories of online altruism. But when no good deed goes unpublished and you can keep score of your goodness through 'followers', 'likes' and the accompanying boosts to ego and reputation is truly selfless altruism online an impossibility? And in the end, if good gets done does it matter?Contributors: Primatologist Frans De Waal, Psychologist Dana Kilsanin, Founder of Random acts of pizza Daniel Rodgers, YouTube DIY guru Chez RossiProducer: Peter McManus.
08/10/1328m 10s
Heart UK