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Past Tense

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Past Tense

Feasibly Productions

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This is Past Tense. This is a history podcast. Pat yourself on the back for getting the ingenious pun and settle back for as close to time travel as you can get without building any complicated machines or risking all existence in a logical paradox.
 
Let’s begin with the question of why and how does anyone become entrenched in the discipline of leadership development? For myself, it began with a graduate course on The Presidency and the required reading of a huge tome by James MacGregor Burns on what he considered to be the most significant Presidents in the history of the US. His was a qualitative, historical, and, at times, psychological account of the leadership vision of those who changed the institution of the American executive. On ...
 
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show series
 
What will the global political landscape look like when the world’s dependency on fossil fuels is finally over? Adjustments are already being made, but for so-called “petrostates” like Saudi Arabia and Russia, the prospects look particularly bleak. Experts warn of new inequalities and shifting power dynamics. They also warn of a fall in available e…
 
Paul Howe has a novel theory that could help explain the current state of humanity. Adolescence, he says, isn’t so much a time of life as a state of mind – and it’s transforming our adult world. Also, why an emphasis on human rights has failed to reduce global inequality; and redefining minimalism as “intentional living”.…
 
The technology sector has a long history of designing devices to lock in customers and accelerate consumption. But “planned obsolescence” as it’s called is facing a push-back. We also speak with Margaret Mitchell, who helped set up the AI ethics group at Google, only to find she was shown the door when the company’s bosses didn’t like what she had …
 
Simon Chesterman argues for a new global agency to regulate the development of artificial intelligence. One that would also ensure an equitable distribution of its benefits. Professor Chesterman, the Dean of the Law at the National University of Singapore, says discussion around AI has been dominated by the US, Europe and China, but smaller Asian n…
 
If you think coal is controversial, spare a thought for nuclear energy. It may not be everybody’s choice as a replacement for fossil fuels, but the technology is evolving, new reactors are being built and researchers are working on making them smaller and mobile. In this episode we give an overview on the size and scale of the nuclear energy sector…
 
Google has affirmed its decision to ban all third-party cookies from its popular Chrome browser by the end of 2023. Cookies have long under-pinned the business model for online marketing. Some analysts are predicting a “cookiepocalypse”. But others say that’s hard to swallow. Also, the world is currently facing a global shortage of computer chips. …
 
The big traditional religions of the world are losing followers, but not just, as is commonly thought, to atheism and secularism. Religion as such won't die any time soon because human beings are “hard-wired” to believe in the religious and the supernatural. Some analysts say the world is experiencing a shift toward individualistic spiritual expres…
 
Facebook’s CEO has spoken about changing the social media platform into a “metaverse” company and he’s pledged billions to the cause. The metaverse is a term Silicon Valley uses for the next stage of the internet: a world in which all activities are conducted in an immersive Virtual Reality environment. But would Zoom-weary humans want to live in s…
 
Is our inability to think long-term influenced by the sheer number of threats we face? In times of crisis, it seems, human beings find it harder to think beyond their immediate difficulties. We investigate. Also, new research on why threats of punishment often fail to deter bad behaviour; and we get an update on Seabed2030, the global initiative to…
 
The cliché is that once something goes online, it’s up there forever. But the truth is that the Internet has a memory problem and some of what we’re losing – or could potentially lose – has significance and value. While archivists struggle with the challenge of preserving our digital record, the rise of pay walls present a particular problem.…
 
An Australian court has given inventor status to a piece of Artificial Intelligence. It’s big news in the tech sector, but does it have real world significance? Also, a new research discipline called "Affectivism" – what is it and how will it influence our understanding of human behaviour? And why one New York researcher has labelled Virtual Realit…
 
Almost every week, Bitcoin makes the headlines. Rollercoaster prices, environmental concerns and even the latest scams regularly make the news. But the sheer proliferation of stories surrounding Bitcoin has made it hard to understand what’s happening, let alone the technology itself. This week, Edwina Stott unpicks some of the biggest headlines in …
 
President Joe Bidden wants to establish a new alliance of democracies to counter the rise of authoritarianism. He’s planning a global summit for later this year. But is such an alliance achievable in a 21st century marked by heightened geo-economic interdependency? Or is it simply a nostalgic yearning for the past? And if such an alliance could be …
 
Automation and outsourcing are dirty words for many people in Western countries worried about their future employment prospects. Developing countries are seen to be the major beneficiaries of off-shore labour, with multinationals hoovering up increased profits. But the reality is a lot more complex and even messy. Now, even developing countries are…
 
The rush to go digital during Covid-19 has coincided with a marked rise in ransomware attacks. Some have a political dimension, some are merely opportunistic, but all make sound business sense from a criminal perspective. We discuss the ins and outs of ransomware operations and meet a man whose job is to negotiate with the criminals.…
 
It’s time to attack the “supply side” of fossil fuels, activists argue. And the best way to do that is by establishing a fuel non-proliferation treaty similar to the one used for nuclear weapons. But what would it entail and could it ever work? Also, the sticky relationship between online personalisation and consent; and a call for CEOs to become t…
 
Responses to climate change are often marked by frustration as much as fear. Those seeking to end our fossil-fuel dependency are increasingly turning to litigation to force the hands of companies and governments - often on human rights grounds. But do the courts have a legitimate role to play in leading the way? Or is this a form of judicial activi…
 
Trying to predict the future is a timeless and time-consuming pursuit. Artificial Intelligence is increasingly being enlisted to the cause, but so too are “super-forecasters” – a new coterie of individuals with remarkable predictive powers. But what are their limits and what does their rise say about the still popular notion of collective intellige…
 
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