Diabetes is usually considered a disease of excess—so why are so many starving people in India getting it?
Like much of America, we are big fans of HBO's 'Westworld,' but not because of the science in the show. To be honest, the show doesn't really bother trying to explain how its hosts work, but in doing so, it allows the show to ask some of the big ethical questions associated with artificial intelligence and our pursuit of the singularity.
Radio Motherboard talks to Facebook AI researcher Antoine Bordes about where we are in the development of artificial intelligence right now, and the show brings back our former managing editor Adrianne Jeffries (hi Adrianne!), who now runs our favorite Westworld podcast, called "Out West," over at her lovely new website The Outline.
And check out The Outline: www.theoutline.com
Radio Motherboard was recently down for a few days because we migrated our feed to a new address. If you have had trouble getting this through any of your apps, please change the feed to: http://radiomotherboard.vice-media.libsynpro.com/rss
Also: We are beginning an every Tuesday publishing schedule starting now.
Thank you for listening!
Motherboard takes a trip to Biofabricate, a synthetic biology conference at the Parsons School of Design. We talk to Aaron Nesser and Kenji Higashi, two entrepreneurs who are hoping that fibers made of spider silk and alginate could help clean up our disastrous fashion industry.
Motherboard's writers, editors, and contributors have spent the last week talking to activists, researchers, and policy makers about the powers that Donald Trump will inherit when he takes power in January. There's little sense in speculating about what Trump will do when he takes office, but it's important to understand the powers he will have to affect things like climate change, energy policy, surveillance, cybersecurity, and the other things Motherboard holds dear.
Credits for this episode:
Host/producer: Jason Koebler
Editor: Tim Barnes
Space/NASA: Becky Ferreira
Border, immigration, and drug trafficking: Brian Anderson
Trade: Nicholas Deleon
Energy and Climate: Sarah Emerson
Vaping: Kaleigh Rogers
Health: Ankita Rao
Hacking and Cybersecurity: Lorenzo FB
Privacy: Joseph Cox
Drones: Ben Sullivan
We couldn't ignore the fact that an impending Trump presidency feels like a Black Mirror episode. We discuss his campaign and the election through the lens of Black Mirror, and discuss 'San Junipero,' 'Men Against Fire,' and 'Hated in the Nation.'
We’ve always sort of called Charlie Brooker’s “Black Mirror” the Motherboard show, because while we love tech, we’re probably a bit more wary of its ability to lean dystopian than your average tech publication. So this week and next, we’re going to be talking about the new season of Black Mirror on Netflix.
Today, we’re going to be talking about what the first three episodes—Nosedive, Playtest, and Shut Up and Dance say about our culture. Next week, we’ll be back talking about the end of the season—San Junipero, Men Against Fire, and Hated in the Nation. This week’s episode has spoilers for the first three episodes and some light discussion of the first season episode “Fifteen Million Merits.”
Werner Herzog doesn’t care what you think about him, about his mythos. He does care about myth, the stories people tell and why. His newest movie, "Into The Inferno," in which he tours six active volcanoes around the world, is as much about the culture and beliefs that surround volcanoes as it is about the science. Editor Alex Pasternack speaks with Herzog about his filmmaking, science and scientists, distributing his film through Netflix, and police body cameras. Read more at Motherboard: http://motherboard.vice.com/read/into-the-herzog-radio-motherboard-podcast
'Berlin Station' is a new spy drama/thriller from the cable network EPIX, which focuses on a leak of classified information at the titular CIA office, and the agents tracking it down. Motherboard spoke to series writers Brad Winters and Larry Cohen, who also worked together on a separate project: a graphic novel series called 'Americatown' about a near-future dystopia where Americans are the immigrants.
Tens of thousands of iPhone 6 Plus phones have been spontaneously losing their touchscreen capability because of an engineering flaw, but Apple still won't admit there's a problem. Motherboard spoke to Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit, about what's causing the issue and what Apple should do about it. We also talk with an Apple Genius about your options if you have a phone with the problem.
Motherboard reflects on a week exploring time, money and how we decide what to value.
Periods are having a moment in mainstream consciousness. We talk to Kiran Gandhi, a drummer and activist about how the technology and ideas are menstruation are changing, and what it was like to run a marathon “free bleeding.”
Between the hours of 3 AM and 5 AM Friday morning, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump went on a tweetstorm in which he was, you know, just saying that Hillary Clinton helped former Miss Universe (and a target of Trump’s misogyny) Alicia Machado become a US citizen “so she could use her in the debate.”
Is that true? Like, almost certainly not—but in this election season, truth and facts hardly seem to matter. Trump's attacks on Machado are just the latest data point in an election cycle that has seen wild speculation, rampant exaggeration, and outright lies become accepted as fact by huge swaths of the electorate on both sides of the aisle.
If we’re living in a post-factual era, how did we get here? Vincent F. Hendricks set up the Center for Information and Bubble Studies at the University of Copenhagen to study how individual and media behavior online has created a reality where virality, social spread, and repetition is all that’s required for people to believe something is true.
While “facts” haven’t gone totally by the wayside, the way we cherry pick facts to make alternate realities has created a political system (and a culture) where we can’t have rational arguments because we can’t even agree on a baseline of truth.
Radio Motherboard spoke to Hendricks about this week’s debate and about his new book, Infostorms, which explores how our likes, upvotes, retweets, coupled with social media algorithms and brash politicians with a disregard for the truth are redefining rational society.
At times, Oliver Stone’s ‘Snowden’ feels like a remake of ‘Citizenfour,’ Laura Poitras’s Oscar-winning documentary. Citizenfour is the superior film, but Stone’s spy thriller is still a fun look into this generation’s most important whistleblower. The most interesting thing about ‘Snowden’ the film, however, doesn’t even happen onscreen. The film’s success won’t be viewed in terms of box office numbers, but in whether it has the ability to culturally and politically move the needle for its protagonist. Just days before ‘Snowden’ was released, the ACLU, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International launched the most serious bid to secure a presidential pardon for Edward Snowden. So, is the movie good enough to change the hearts and minds of those who still view him as a traitor?
On this episode of Radio Motherboard, we speak with Joe Murray, creator of Rocko's Modern Life, about the show's upcoming hour-long special and how a show about a 90s vision of modern living has stayed relevant today. We also chat with Sean Yeaton, formerly of Motherboard and now of Parquet Courts, about his vision for our technofuture and how cartoon like Rocko will influence our kids.
Elon Musk’s new temple of energy is open for business in the middle of the desert outside Reno, Nevada. A few weeks ago, I went to the opening of the Tesla Gigagfactory, where Musk proposes to ramp up production of car batteries to the point where Tesla can begin to sell an affordable, mass-market electric cars.
Musk’s ideas and Tesla’s futuristic cars get a lot of attention, but the company has still only sold just over 150,000 cars. The good news for Tesla is that many of those 150,000 customers are rabid fans who are happy to evangelize for the company. I went to the Gigafactory’s opening party to meet the people who not only owned a Tesla, but also convinced five of their friends to buy one.
This podcast is meant to be a quick primer on the world of Tesla—what’s it like to own one? Who are these superfans and why do they love the company so much? What’s it like to drive a Model S in “Ludicrous Mode?” What’s inside the Gigafactory? And what is Elon Musk’s long-term vision for the future of transportation and energy?
Your phone uses the equivalent of two refrigerators’ worth of electricity every year.
If you add in all of the electricity required to store and move data across high-speed cable and wireless networks and climate-controlled server farms to deliver an hour of video to your phone each week, in the space of a year it adds up to more power than two new Energy Star refrigerators consume in the same time.
This week, Douglas Rushkoff takes over Radio Motherboard in partnership with his brand new podcast,, Team Human. You can find future episodes of Team Human at teamhuman.fm.
Soon after news broke that Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones’s website had been hacked and replaced with stolen nude photos and racist memes, I got an urgent email from Whitney Phillips, one of the world’s foremost experts on online trolling and harassment (Phillips quite literally has a doctorate in 4chan). Phillips wanted to know if Motherboard was going to cover the hack, and how we were going to do it.
“I have some thoughts on the ethics of amplification—how, we can't not comment on stories like this, but commenting perpetuates the disgusting narrative and associated imagery. The question being, what's the ethical way not just for journalists and academics to respond, but for individuals, as well?” she said.
“Is more harm than good done when the association of Jones with Harambe is given longer life? I'm honestly not sure,” she added. “BUT I WANT TO HAVE THAT CONVERSATION.”
In her book This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things, Phillips explores how early trolls from 4chan’s /b/ board manipulated the media into spreading their message. Though “trolling” is now an outdated, imprecise term, the Twitter harassment and illegal hacking of Jones’s website are amplified the more journalists write about it, the more people retweet it, the more we allow it to stay in our collective consciousness.
Phillips emailed me as I was also considering whether there’s an ethical way to cover abhorrent behavior on the internet—decisions about how and whether to write about racially, sexually, or xenophobically motivated hacks and harassment is a question the Motherboard staff considers all the time, but it’s rarely a conversation that ever makes it to the public.
And so I decided to have that conversation with Phillips and the roles we all play in amplifying questionable or grotesque online behavior.
As our lives become ever more digitized, the security of our data will become ever more important to protect.
So far, judging by the daily routine of data breaches and large scale hacks, it seems like we're failing to secure our most precious digital belongings. As some in the world of information security say, everything will get hacked. But is that really true?
As part of The Hacks We Can't See, Motherboard's theme week exploring the future of hacking, we asked real hackers what they think the future holds. We also spoke to Morgan Marquis-Boire, a well-known security researcher who's spent the last few years hunting malware and helping human rights activists and journalists protect themselves.
What's the craziest thing that'll get hacked in the future? And what can you do to protect yourself? Listen to this week's episode of Radio Motherboard to find out.
Hello, friend. If you’ve been a Radio Motherboard listener, you know that we’re big fans of Mr. Robot, USA’s moody, disorienting hacker drama. In fact, Motherboard and Mr. Robot’s respective moods align so closely that Amy Teitel, a former Motherboard freelancer, is now a staff writer for the show’s second season.
We talk to Amy about how she made the shift from security journalism to tv writing, why she thinks Mr. Robot hasn’t gotten hacked, and her brand new play debuting soon off Broadway.
This is the first episode of a brand new podcast series being launched by Radio Motherboard. On #fsociety, staff writers Jason Koebler and Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai will discuss the parallels between the hacks on each episode of this season of Mr. Robot and the ones we see in real life. Apologies for the delay on this first episode—we’ll try to catch up to the series by next week, and will continue to post episodes each week. Search #fsociety on iTunes or your favorite podcast app to subscribe.
Radio Motherboard's Jason Koebler and Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai are going to talk about the real-life hacks that we see in Mr. Robot season two. This is #fsociety, coming your way all summer.
This podcast contains spoilers for Independence Day and Independence Day 2: Resurgence.
We had 20 years to prepare.
That's the tagline for Independence Day 2. It refers to Earth, and how long we had to get ready for a second alien invasion. But it also applies to Roland Emmerich and the team behind the sequel.
In this podcast, Radio Motherboard interviews Emmerich, goes to see ID4-2, and talks about what made the first film such a hit and the second one, not so much.
David Farrier is used to uncovering bizarre information. But his latest project investigating the online world of competitive tickling was a lesson in the strange side of life, even for him. We talked to the journalist and filmmaker about his new movie, Tickled, and what it reveals about online harassment, internet tribes, and hacking.
For two weeks, Motherboard writer Kate Lunau skipped her soap and deodorant—spritzing herself with a “live bacteria spray” instead. Her goal was to colonize her skin with ammonia-eating bacteria, which are supposed to neutralize the smell of sweat. There are a growing number of believers out there: Chemist David Whitlock, who came up with this, hasn’t showered in 13 years. But are live bacteria products really the future of skincare? And, maybe more importantly, how bad did Kate smell by the end of it?
Sometime in the last few weeks, or months, or years, you may have heard about this idea called “universal basic income.” It’s the idea that maybe governments should give a monthly stipend—no questions asked—to everyone who lives there.
It’s an idea we’ve covered quite a bit over the years, and it’s one that’s increasingly gaining steam among people on both sides of the political spectrum. Conservatives and libertarians say that it can simplify the bureaucracy associated with things like welfare and food stamps, and liberals like it because it would strengthen the social safety net.
Why do we need a basic income now? Well maybe you’ve noticed, but automation is slowly but surely replacing a lot of jobs that humans used to do with ones that robots, drones, software, and artificial intelligence can do. We’re looking at a future where it’s possible that there simply won’t be enough jobs for everyone. Maybe that’s a good thing—in a post scarcity society, do humans really need to do menial jobs?
And so basic income has been floated as both a cure to automation and potentially a better way to redistribute wealth. The movement is gaining steam around the world: Switzerland voted this last weekend on whether the country should “guarantee the introduction of an unconditional basic income.” The measure failed, but the fact that it was even on the ballot speaks to its increasing relevancy. In the United States, the startup incubator Y Combinator is doing an experiment that will give 100 people in Oakland between $1,000 and $2,000 per month to see how the “mechanics” of a basic income would work and to see what people do with the money.
That project is controversial for reasons we get into the podcast. I called up Matt Krisiloff, who is head of the basic income project at Y Combinator, and Elizabeth Rhodes, the research lead of the project, to talk about how it’ll work and why a Silicon Valley startup accelerator is interested in this idea. Then, we talk to Natalie Foster, who is a cofounder of the Universal Income Project, about why she finds the idea so compelling. Finally, we look at the history of basic income around the world and deconstruct the policy itself. Could it ever work?