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On this episode of Spark: Robot Pebbles, the Loyalty Leap, and Online Hoaxes. Click below to listen to the whole show, or download the MP3 (runs 54:00).

You can also listen to individual stories below.

Learning to Lie Online

Mills Kelly is the director of the Global Affairs program and an associate professor of history at George Mason University. He teaches a controversial course called “Lying About the Past” where students create a hoax and “turn it loose on the internet.” He says this course helps students become critical thinkers and more discerning consumers of information from the web. (Runs 10:13)

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Mills KellyLying About the Past course descriptionand here’s the Course syllabusFull uncut version of interview with Mills KellyThe Loyalty Leap

Bryan Pearson is the CEO and president of LoyaltyOne, the people behind Air Miles. He’s the author of “The Loyalty Leap” which looks at the collection of customer data and the challenges companies face in trying to figure out how to use that information in ways that are relevant and not creepy. (Runs 8:54)

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Bryan PearsonThe Loyalty LeapFull uncut version of interview with Bryan PearsonKids, Code, Metaphor

We’ve talked a lot about whether or not learning computer programming language is as essential a skill as learning to read or write. Back in October Program or Be Programmed author Douglas Rushkoff gave us his take, and last week’s show we heard from a middle school teacher who sees the benefits of kids learning code every day. Enter Carlos Bueno, a Software Engineer at Facebook and the author of Lauren Ipsum a book that introduces coding to kids by using metaphor. (Runs 7:49)

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Carlos BuenoLauren IpsumFull uncut version of interview with Carlos BuenoYou may also be interested in these other Spark stories about kids and programming: Douglas Rushkoff on Program or Be Programmed as well as Why Kids Don’t Study Computer Science, and Code in the Classroom.Self-assembling Bots

What if the next time you needed two of something, you could just throw an object into a bag and the little robo-pebbbles inside would just morph into a duplicate for you? It sounds like something from the Terminator, but it’s actually technology that’s being developed in Kyle Gilpin’s lab at MIT. Gilpin and his post-doc supervisor Daniela Rus have developed robot pebbles that can communicate, self-assemble, and sculpt replicas of the object they surround. Whoa. (Runs 8:25)

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Kyle GilpinComputer Science and Artificial Intelligence LaboratoryKyle’s robot pebbles videoFull uncut version of interview with Kyle GilpinSocial Bots: The Next Generation

They tweet, blog, and even dream: Weavrs are the next generation of social bot. They’re a kind of semi-intelligent algorithm that mimics human behaviour to a startling degree. Nora asks David Bausola, the creator of the Weavr platform, what this technology means for the future of marketing. (Runs 8:04)

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David BausolaWeavrsAdditional LinksThe perfume that smells like books Nora talked aboutAPM music used in this episodeMain page photo by Vishal PatelPodcasts

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