One hundred million people listened to at least one podcast every week in 2019. And no wonder–podcasts offer a range of topics to pique your interest, satisfy your curiosity, or simply entertain with powerful stories. Although they provide easy access anytime and anywhere, the most popular places for listening are at home, in the car, or exercising. As a privacy professional I’ve found podcast listening to be a painless way to learn and engage in new subject matter. From the 29 million episodes currently available–on any topic imaginable!—I’ve curated my must-listen-to list of podcasts about privacy, security, and technology.
Reset’s tagline reads, “Every story is a tech story.” In 20 minute conversational episodes suitable for a general audience, host Arielle Duhaime-Ross explores why – and how – tech is changing everything. She covers social issues associated with technology, technology policy, and technology regulation. Can Artificial Intelligence Teach You to Write Better discusses the limitations of automated software to grade student essays and deftly dissects whether an algorithm can truly detect what makes good writing. The Other Iranian Threat: Cyberwarfare reports on Iranian hacker attacks that have destroyed vast amounts of data with wiper malware and asks if the U.S. government is prepared to ward off possible future attacks on government, military, and private sector networks. Facebook’s Fake Deepfake Program explains how deepfake videos, edited with AI techniques, can distort the truth with upsetting political consequences, especially if they go viral on social media. Facebook’s purported policy to ban deepfake videos leaves a lot of loopholes that can be exploited. What’s a regulator to do? Duhaim-Ross, who has a science background, also offers as diverse point of view as a queer woman of color. Reset was launched in 2019 and you can enjoy over 50 episodes.
Oz Woloshyn’s narration and interviews, which have been called, “curious, thoughtful,” explore how the IA and technology revolution is having a growing influence on the human condition. Hosts Oz Woloshyn and Karah Preiss tackle privacy, policy and social issues on this podcast. Enjoy 10 episode in series one (plus 2 bonus episodes) and series two episodes are expected soon. The final episode of the first series, ‘Deux Ex Machina,’ interviews tech luminaries and futurists who speculate about modern day cyborgs (human/computer interfaces that can enhance or remediate our physical limitations) and wrestle with the implications of algorithms that can decipher our data to manipulate individual human experiences in very personal ways. Interviewee Yuval Noah Harris’s advice to personally regulate the degree to which we can be manipulated comes from the past: look inward to know thyself.
This business podcast about being humans zigzags between tech, business, some privacy issues, and policy stories that “investigate the impact of work and business on our wellbeing and our planet.” Hosted by two women journalists-turned-entrepreneurs (Manoush Zomorodi and Jen Poyant), they intersperse the story of their lives, friendship, and fledgling business enterprise with challenges to tech’s ruthless culture in episodes with titles such as, An Alternative to Silicon Valley’s Unicorn Bullsh*t and When Your Gut Tells You It’s Time to END Your Company. In The Plateau of Productivity, they discuss how to handle the feeling at the end innovation cycle that seems dull instead of celebratory. When Women Don’t Support Each Other at Work includes a candid dialogue on possible ways women can navigate the divide in the workplace between women who do and don’t have children at home. Also, check out episodes from Zomorodi’s previous podcast on privacy and digital technology, Note to Self, which aired from 2016-2019.
Host Ben Makuch talks to Motherboard reporters about hackers, cybersecurity, encryptions, and disinformation. Although more technical than the other podcasts I review in this post, it’s still conversational and understandable for non privacy and tech geeks. Where Our Cell Phones Go When We Recycle Them traces the literal journey our cell phones and other devices take after we discard them. In Whatever Happened to Anonymous , a professor of anthropology discusses the antic hacktivist collective’s evolution from earnest civil disobedience to nefarious vigilantes. The Biggest iPhone Hack in History, Explained, reports on Google researchers’ discovery that malicious websites have been taking advantage of Apple vulnerabilities to spread iPhone malware, with potentially dire consequences for Uighur Muslims in China. Launched in 2019, this series has over 50 episodes to dig into.
This podcast tends towards tech advocacy and offers social commentary on the ways that tech companies seize user attention and are impacting society. Hosted by Tristan Harris and Aza Raskin, the podcast launch in 2019 and has 7 episodes. From Russia With Likes is a two-part episode that does a deep dive into the tactics used by disinformation campaigns and how we can resist their manipulations. The episodes feature Renée DiResta, co-author of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Russia investigation, who also de-mystifies how social media platforms subtly devise to keep us on their sites and the political consequences for doing so.
The Dictator’s Playbook focuses on journalist Maria Ressa who works in The Philippines as CEO of CEO of the media site Rappler, where she has faced death threats and multiple arrests. She uses her personal story to reveal the intricate techniques by which a “strongman” can use social media to rise to dictatorship and advises how we can reverse that danger. The guest of Trust Falls, Oxford academic and business advisor Rachel Bostman, talks about how the sharing economy and social media, in replacing old-fashioned communities and associations, has caused a “global trust crisis.”
BONUS: Two palate cleansers to expand your horizons
There’s nothing like hearing a writer read their own work to make it come alive. And there’s something perennially soothing about being read to. Updated with each new issue of the magazine, writers who read their fiction published in The New Yorker include established names such as Joyce Carol Oates and Louise Erdrich and newer voices such as Anthony Veasna and Weike Wang.
This long-running and award-winning podcast began as a collaboration between public radio KALW and The American Institute of Architects in San Francisco. Entertaining, weird, cool, and offering a range of unexpected perspectives about our urban environments, each episode focuses on a single topic or specific example of design, and often includes host Roman Mars’s illuminating interviews with architects, artists, and design experts. This podcast is essential listening to spark new ways of thinking about ideas and imagination.