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The Digital Human

Podcast The Digital Human
Podcast The Digital Human

The Digital Human


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  • Tilt
    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
  • Vilify
    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
  • SOS
    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
  • Shadow
    Aleks Krotoski explores the impact of Sci-hub on science and the Open Access Movement.
  • Orphaned
    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

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