No caption

Photo: Oleshko Artem/123RF

8:10 Kashmir Hill: Police use of facial recognition software Clearview AI

No caption

Photo: Supplied

This week RNZ exposed an unapproved police trial of controversial facial recognition software Clearview AI.

Described as a "search engine for faces" the technology is used by hundreds of police forces across the US and the world to help identify criminals and their victims.

Founded by Australian Hoan Ton-That, Clearview has assembled a database of 3 billion images scraped from social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

So why does Clearview AI cause such disquiet among privacy advocates? What do we know about the business, and how it operates? And do we really have anything to fear?

Kashmir Hill is a technology reporter for The New York Times: she's got a particular interest in privacy, and has been reporting on Clearview's operations over the past few months.


8:30 Toby Ord: What is the greatest existential threat to humanity?

At the same time as the Covid-19 pandemic began sweeping the world Australian moral philosopher Toby Ord  released his book calculating the possibility of the end of humanity.

In The Precipice he weighs up scenarios that could contribute to our downfall. From the man-made threats of climate change and nuclear war, to the potentially greater, more unfamiliar threats from engineered pandemics and advanced artificial intelligence.

A research fellow at the Future of Humanity Institute, and a Senior Research Fellow in Philosophy at Oxford University, Ord is (like his compatriot Peter Singer) a leading light in the 'effective altruism' movement which encourages people to use evidence to help others as much as possible.

He co-founded the movement in 2009 with William MacAskill, and has created an international society called Giving What We Can, whose members have pledged over $1.5 billion.

Toby Ord / The Precipice

Toby Ord / The Precipice Photo: supplied / Fisher Studios Ltd / Bloomsbury Publishing

9:05 Virologist Chris Smith answers Covid-19 questions

Virologist Dr Chris Smith is back to answer more questions about the emerging science around the novel coronavirus pandemic.

A consultant clinical virologist at Cambridge University, and one of BBC Radio 5 Live's Naked Scientists, he's been digesting all the latest Covid-related science and research for us each week, as we come to understand more about the virus.

This week, more severe inflammatory responses recorded in children, how is the virus mutating and how does this impact on the search for a viable vaccine, and with the WHO warning that the virus could become 'endemic' what could this mean for us?

(200414) -- BEIJING, April 14, 2020 (Xinhua) -- A staff member tests samples of the COVID-19 inactivated vaccine at a vaccine production plant of China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) in Beijing, capital of China, April 11, 2020.

Photo: AFP

9:35 Shaun Bythell: runs Scotland's biggest used bookshop

Shaun Bythell

Shaun Bythell Photo: Profile Books

Shaun Bythell lives in Wigtown, Scotland, where he runs The Bookshop - the largest second hand bookshop in Scotland. Its shelves span nearly 2 kilometres and contain over 100,000 books.

Shaun has written two hit books, laced with his trademark grumpy good humour, about his shop and its clientele: The Diary of a Bookseller and Confessions of A Bookseller.   

He's currently putting the finishing touches to a third book.

We check in on him, his wife, and their 12 month old to see how their bookish bubble's going, and how the book trade is faring through the lockdown.

The Bookshop

The Bookshop Photo: supplied

10:05 In defence of bats: disease ecologist Jonathan Epstein

Widely blamed for being a disease vector in the spread of the novel coronavirus, bats have a bit of a PR problem at the moment.

It's resulted in overzealous individuals burning their colonies, and slaughtering them in large numbers.

Disease ecologist Jonathan Epstein has stepped up to go into bat for his creepy and cute little animal friends.

From pollination to pest control, he says bats do an awful lot of good for us.

Jonathan's work as a disease ecologist for The EcoHealth Alliance involves hunting down viruses among vast colonies of cave-dwelling bats.

No caption

Photo: supplied

10:40 Keke Brown: coming home to lead Touch Compass

No caption

Photo: Supplied

Pelenakeke (Keke) Brown has recently returned to Aotearoa after being based in NYC for six years.

An interdisciplinary artist, her work spans art, writing, and performance.  

She's become the interim artistic director of Touch Compass, a professional performance company showcasing work from artists, writers, and actors with and without disabilities.

A founding member of the company, she's now the first artist with a disability to lead it.

Among the subjects up for discussion, how her art practice is grounded in the Samoan concept of the vā (the space that connects people through their relationships).


11:05 Barbara Ewing on her coming of age memoir

New Zealand actor and novelist Barbara Ewing has written a memoir about life as a young woman in Wellington and Auckland in the 1950s and early 1960s, before she headed off to study in London.

One Minute Crying Time documents her early experiences of anxiety, fraught family life, and what at the time was a controversial romantic relationship with a young Māori man.

Barbara Ewing

Barbara Ewing Photo: supplied

11:35 Peter Warner: 'Lord of The Flies' rescuer

No caption

Photo: Supplied

Peter Warner is part of an extraordinary story that made global headlines over the past week, despite it being decades old.

It's the tale of a real life 'Lord of the Flies' scenario, six Tongan boys who were marooned on a desert island and rescued 15 months later.

In 1966 Peter Warner was the captain of a fishing boat that sailed past the island, called 'Ata, and found the teenagers there.

Students at a Catholic boarding school in Nuku'alofa, the boys had stolen a boat, and set sail for Fiji, only to be put off course by a storm, eventually washing ashore at 'Ata.

Peter Warner describes his role in the story, and the enduring friendships that came of it.


The six shipwreck survivors:

L-R: Luke Veikoso, Fatai Latu, Sione Fataua and in the front row, L-R: Tevita Siola’a, Kolo Fekitoa, Mano Totau.
Credit Rutger Bregman

L-R: Luke Veikoso, Fatai Latu, Sione Fataua and in the front row, L-R: Tevita Siola’a, Kolo Fekitoa, Mano Totau. Credit Rutger Bregman Photo: Rutger Bregman/Twitter

Books mentioned in this show

The Precipice
By Toby Ord
ISBN: 9781526600219
Bloomsbury Publishing

One Minute Crying Time
by Barbara Ewing
ISBN: 9780995122956
Massey University Press Massey University Press

Ocean of Light
By Peter Warner
ISBN 9781721185306
Createspace Independent Publishing Platform

Music played in this show

Song: When Gods Lie
Artist: Reb Fountain
Played at 9:35

Song: Stay High
Artist: Brittany Howard
Played at 10:35

Song: Fire
Artist: Waxahatchee
Played at 11.35