Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Podcast: Binary Thinking

Many decisions are binary: should we wear a face mask or not? We discuss how this might affect our thinking more broadly and whether it drives polarisation.

This podcast investigates binary thinking, looking at why and in what situations we have a tendency to think in absolute terms. We debate the advantages and pitfalls associated with binary thinking, and consider whether some of us are better at handling ambiguity and uncertainty than others. Finally, we discuss ways of managing our own and others’ binary thinking. Does that sound interesting - yes, or no?

A few things we mentioned in this podcast:

Find more Cognitive Engineering episodes here https://link.chtbl.com/SQeIgc44

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Podcast: To Err is Human

We look at the YAM cryptocurrency bug and ask whether in a digital age our capacity to mess up has spiralled out of control.

In this podcast we examine software bugs and other types of error, and discuss whether there is any connection between the size of an error and its consequence. We also attempt to classify types of errors and look at how they might be compounded by the complex systems humans have created. Finally, we consider if errors are uniquely human phenomena or whether they can occur in our absence.

A few things we mentioned in this podcast:

The YAM bug 

The El Dorado fire

Find more Cognitive Engineering episodes here https://link.chtbl.com/SQeIgc44

Wednesday, 7 October 2020

Podcast: is there Life on Venus?

With the recent discovery of phosphine gas on Venus, we debate whether Dan Dare has now been vindicated.

This podcast explores what we can infer from the small amounts of data we receive from space, and whether we have sufficient data to develop meaningful models of what is happening on other planets. We also discuss the way theories and counter-theories develop and - of course - alien life itself and the probability of its existence in different forms.

A few things we mentioned in this podcast:

Find more Cognitive Engineering episodes here https://link.chtbl.com/SQeIgc44

Wednesday, 30 September 2020

Podcast: A-Level Algorithms

What is a fair way to decide an exam result in the absence of being able to sit the exam?

In this podcast we discuss the background to the controversial A-Level algorithm debacle. We also touch on the concept of fairness in examinations and consider the essence of what we are trying to measure through an exam. Finally, we look at the application of algorithms to other areas of performance assessment, such as sport.

A few things we mentioned in this podcast:

Find more Cognitive Engineering episodes here https://link.chtbl.com/SQeIgc44

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Podcast: Good vs Bad Distractions

Is procrastination a total waste of time or can it be productive? If you have something important to do, you should really spend the next 25 minutes listening to us discuss the topic.

In this podcast we discuss why we feel the urge to procrastinate, and whether it reduces or increases stress in the long run. We also consider the nature of tasks we like to avoid and what the potential benefits of time wasting activities might be.

A few things we mentioned in this podcast:

Find more Cognitive Engineering episodes here https://link.chtbl.com/SQeIgc44


Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Podcast: Lost and (not) Found

What does it mean when we lose something and why are some of us better at finding things than others?

We define the concept of losing something and discuss different heuristics, strategies and technologies that have developed to help us find things. We also mention the psychological impact of losing something, how much time we spend looking for stuff and consider why some people may be better predisposed to locate misplaced objects.

A few things we mentioned in this podcast:

Find more Cognitive Engineering episodes here https://link.chtbl.com/SQeIgc44

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Podcast: Declining Fertility

Recent research suggests there will be a significant reduction in the birth rate over the course of the next century. What would this mean if it were true? 

In this podcast we discuss the accuracy of population forecasts, the assumptions they are based on, and the relationship between the number of people and factors such as productivity and societal innovation. We also attempt to predict some of the implications of an aging population with fewer children and ask whether there is an optimal number of human beings.

A few things we mentioned in this podcast:

BBC coverage of declining fertility  

The ‘Lump of Labour’ fallacy 

Derek Parfit’s repugnant conclusion 

Find more Cognitive Engineering episodes here https://link.chtbl.com/SQeIgc44