Storyblocks’ image of shadow figures in front of a wall of 1s and 0s.
Storyblocks’ image of shadow figures in front of a wall of 1s and 0s.

Cosmic Queries – Algorithms and Data, with Hannah Fry

Image Credit: Storyblocks.
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About This Episode

On this episode of StarTalk Radio, Neil deGrasse Tyson and comic co-host Chuck Nice are investigating the scientific – and somewhat mysterious – world of algorithms and big data. Joining them is Hannah Fry, PhD, mathematician and author of Hello World: How to be Human in the Age of the Machine, to lend her expertise as we answer fan-submitted Cosmic Queries from across the internet. 

What is an algorithm? What does it mean to use an algorithm? Hannah gives us a lesson in algorithms 101. You’ll learn why an algorithm is not just a function of a computer. Discover why your favorite recipe is an algorithm. Explore the differences between an algorithm and artificial intelligence. Ponder whether applying algorithms to human behavior might give strong evolutionary guidance. We also explore if you can make a predictive algorithm for lightning strikes or ocean currents. 

Find out the state of big data in the modern world. You’ll hear why the biggest challenge about modern data comes down to quality, not volume. We discuss the processes of solving problems. Is grunting through to a solution the best way to solve a problem or does every problem have a quick answer? You’ll learn more about the “P vs NP Problem” and the four-color theorem. 

What’s the future of algorithms and data? Is biological data the next frontier? We examine the idea of predicting crime, like in Minority Report, and Hannah tells us about an example of this in the real world that completely failed. All that, plus, we also discuss why sometimes the best way to study data is by using methods that aren’t new. 

Thanks to our Patrons Dan McGowan, Sullivan S Paulson, Zerman Whitley, Solomon Nadaf, Eric Justin Morales, Matthew Iskander, and Cody Stanley for supporting us this week.

NOTE: StarTalk+ Patrons and All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free.

About the prints that flank Neil in this video:

“Black Swan” & “White Swan” limited edition serigraph prints by Coast Salish artist Jane Kwatleematt Marston. For more information about this artist and her work, visit Inuit Gallery of Vancouver,

In This Episode

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