Science, Technology, and Ethics

  • Are There Two Nikola Teslas? | PBS Idea Channel

    Was Nikola Tesla really the valiant underdog that we've come to know and understand? Despite what you may think, there are actually two Teslas -- the Tesla who was born in 1856 and died in 1943 and the culturally created Tesla. Neither is wrong, but all this leaves us to question: what is history? Watch the episode and find out!

    Grades: 6-13+
  • Do You Choose To Have Your Privacy Invaded By Using Tech? | PBS Idea Channel

    The recent Heartbleed bug was, for many, just another reminder that our information will never be secure on the internet. We feel vulnerable and hopeless in the face of a long string of privacy concerns, and many argue that this is an inevitable result of technology. But since our culture has wholly jumped on the digital bandwagon, do we as individuals truly choose to sacrifice our privacy? Or maybe the better question is, how much do we even choose to use technology? 

    Grades: 9-12
  • How Much Can Data Improve Your Health? | PBS Idea Channel

    You may have heard of the Jawbone, Fitbit, Nike Fuelband, or one of the myriad of other wearable self-tracking gadgets. You might even be wearing one right now! These gadgets help track everything from hours slept, calories consumed, to number of steps taken in a given day. But, can they actually make you healthy? Sure they provide us with tons of data about our bodies, but what do we do with all that information? Is it just about the knowing? Or does this actually motivate us to change and enhance our behavior? And if it does, can that be a bad thing? 

    Grades: 9-12
  • How Powerful Are Algorithms? | PBS Idea Channel

    If you've ever used Google, Netflix, Facebook, or Amazon, then you've come into contact with algorithms. In fact, it's guaranteed that your life has been impacted by algorithms, even in ways you're unaware of. The importance of algorithms in today's world cannot be overstated, and their role has been the focus of much discussion- especially in how they're shaping our lives, for better or for worse. But, how far does the algorithmic rabbit hole go? Could their influence even have spiritual correlations? 

    Grades: 9-12
  • Is A DOS Attack A Weapon? | PBS Idea Channel

    Denial of Service (DOS) and Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attacks take down servers by distracting them with meaningless traffic until they grind to a halt. Scientology, Westboro Baptist Church, and other controversial organizations have been hit by this form of attack. This video discusses how the way we talk about the results of a software program -- words like "attack" -- reflects how we view the online world.

    Grades: 7-12
  • Is Developing Artificial Intelligence Ethical? | PBS Idea Channel

    If you're even the slightest bit familiar with pop culture from the past fifty years, you know that we've been anxiously awaiting robots to become a part of our daily lives. From R2-D2 to The Jetsons, our future robot companions promise to be helpful and handy. But many people have their concerns: will the development of artificial intelligence end up replacing humans in the workforce, pushing already high unemployment through the roof?

    Grades: 9-12
  • Is the Discovery of Global Warming Our Greatest Scientific Achievement? | PBS Idea Channel

    Global warming exists, but how do we know that? It may seem like a simple process of just looking at the temperature from year to year, but it is so much more than that! Our understanding of the global climate comes from a compendium of data including measured and tracked temperature, humidity, wind speed, and barometric pressure, spanning over 100 years of observation. To study this massive amount of information and be able to surmise that the increasingly extreme and bizarre weather patterns are a result of human influence is truly an incredible accomplishment. 

    Grades: 9-12
  • When Will We Worry About the Well-Being of Robots? | PBS Idea Channel

    Do you worry about your vacuum? Not in the way you're concerned about breaking a valuable object - but in an emotional, empathetic concern for its being? If so, then you're primed for our discussion about the wellbeing of robots! We can personify objects, assigning them human qualities, but will technology get to a point where it deserves these moral concerns? Can you imagine a day when you will empathize with your computer or care whether it lives or dies? 

    Grades: 9-12
  • Will Space Travel Save Us All? | PBS Idea Channel

    Space, also known as The Final Frontier, has been in our collective dreams and fantasies for decades. Who WOULDN'T want to blast into space, experience zero gravity, or walk on the moon?! But with limited funding to NASA, the day that had been promised to us for years (in addition to flying cars and hover boards), seems no closer now than it did 30 years ago. BUT WAIT! Could private research and funding be the future of galactic exploration?

    Grades: 6-12