Techies, here’s what to watch, read & listen to in October
This month, it’s all about Bruce Willis, Anne Boleyn’s brother, veganism, empty eggshells & dodgy LinkedIn posts
There was so much great tech content to choose from for my October roundup that it was almost impossible to pick just a handful — almost. We’re heavy on deepfake stuff this month as the controversial tech has been a big talking point in our house of late, and that’s because my son is doing an A-Level EPQ research project on its regulation. Hopefully he’ll let me share details once it’s complete. Until then, let’s see what I’ve got for you…
NEWSLETTER: Steven Levy, WIRED
I enjoy a good tech newsletter, as anyone who has noticed my many mentions of Bernard Marr over the years will have worked out. I’m slightly gutted it has taken me so long to discover Steven Levy’s insightful WIRED newsletter (sadly only available to subscribers, but an annual print + digital subscription is on sale at just $5 right now).
In the latest edition, one of the things Steven discusses is Bruce Willis reportedly selling the rights to his face to a deepfake company called Deepcake. Both Willis’ agent and a Deepcake rep have denied the rumours, which suggested that Willis — who announced his retirement from acting earlier this year after being diagnosed with aphasia, a disorder that affects speech — had turned to tech in order to continue appearing on screen.
I loved the idea, so pity it’s untrue. Although, speaking of deepfakes…
SERIES: The Capture
After a gripping first season in 2019, The Capture returned for its second outing at the end of August, asking: can you really believe what you see?
This great BBC espionage thriller follows rising politician Isaac Turner (Paapa Essiedu, who played Anne Boleyn’s older brother in last year’s eponymous Channel 5 series) as he becomes entangled in a twisted deepfake conspiracy. The ambitious DCI Rachel Carey (Holliday Grainger) rushes to uncover the truth, but will she make it on time?
I can’t claim that The Capture isn’t far-fetched and silly. It is very much both. Still, that doesn’t stop this six-part series from keeping its viewers glued to their screens. It’s exciting stuff that pulls together great acting, current privacy concerns, and outrageous plotting. Suspend that disbelief and fetch the popcorn.
PODCAST: Science Vs
Science Vs caught my attention years after reading Ben Goldacre’s hilarious but alarming 2009 nonfiction book Bad Science because both do pretty much the same thing: debunk science myths with a healthy dose of humour.
In each episode, host Wendy Zukerman and her crew of friendly fact-checkers join forces with various experts for a funny exploration of widely-held beliefs in science. They reveal what’s real, what’s a load of tosh, and what’s a combination of the two.
In a recent episode, for example, the team tuck into veganism with an environmental researcher, a historian, an anthropologist, and a nutrition researcher to find out if a plant-based diet is really better for us and the environment.
The show offers fun, light, and lively listening that asks tough and interesting questions, even if the answers aren’t always as objective as I’d like.
FILM: Don’t Worry Darling
This glossy psychological thriller is a difficult one to recommend because there’s a major twist that I’m loathed to spoil. You’ll guess it’s connected in some way to STEM as that’s what I cover in this series, but don’t worry darling, I’ll say no more on that.
Olivia Wilde’s sophomore directorial outing opened in September to rotten reviews, IMO largely biased by the sea of drama surrounding the movie.
The talented Florence Pugh leads as Alice Chambers, a young Californian housewife in what looks to be the 1950s — although dates are never confirmed. Life with her charming husband Jack (Harry Styles, whose acting range is sadly a tad limited) seems idyllic until reality begins to crumble like the box of empty eggshells Alice finds in the fridge one morning. Does Jack’s firm and its enigmatic leader have anything to do with it all?
DISHONOURABLE MENTION: Viral Post Generator
I love playing with fun AI tools, but I was disappointed with this one. Perhaps Viral Post Generator was never intended to be anything other than daft, but it purports to create the perfect LinkedIn post — does it heck.
To illustrate, answering its first question about what I did that day, I told VPG that I’d “delivered a keynote at an artificial intelligence conference”. I hadn’t, but that doesn’t matter. To answer the system’s second question on the inspirational advice I’d offer, I wrote, “we must make sure that AI is human-centred”. And we should. I then selected ‘low cringe level’, and got this nonsense:
You don’t even want to see what I got on selecting ‘high cringe level’. Utter gibberish, so it’s safe to say I won’t be using this again. Have you found any cool AI tools of late? If so, share them in the comments.
The views expressed in this blog represent my personal opinions and not necessarily the position of EY.