As reopenings stall and some companies extend work-from-home indefinitely, Leah and Laura wonder what the future of cities looks like. Will all the yuppies flee to the countryside? Will mom-and-pop retail survive? Architect and professor Vishaan Chakrabarti talks about the major problems facing our cities, why we should ban cars altogether, and how the pandemic may create opportunities for big change.
Can you pick your baby’s gender? What about their IQ? And what’s to stop people from editing their babies’ genes to make them glow? Laura and Leah talk to UC Berkeley-trained researcher Mark DeWitt about a controversial case of human genetic engineering. Then Cal alum Steve Hsu talks about the ethical conundrums he encounters at his biotech company where he offers genetic predictions for fertility clinic clients. And finally, Berkeley ethicist Jodi Halpern warns about the threats to human rights that these innovations pose.
After the Berkeley city council votes to remove gender from the municipal code, Laura and Leah decide to investigate how language changes with the times. They talk to two non-binary students about the singular pronoun “they” and linguist Geoffrey Nunberg about what language will stick, what’s a fad, and why language matters. Finally, Berkeley sociologist Cristina Mora talks about the origins of Latinx and why she uses it.
Laura and Leah worry about their digital presence. How much could someone find out about their private lives based on their online behavior? With the help of Steve Trush and Sean Brooks of the UC Berkeley Citizen Clinic, they discover their cyber-insecurities and clean up their acts.
When Boalt Hall loses its name because of the building’s namesake’s racist views, Laura and Leah wonder if it rights old wrongs or just papers over the past. Should we change the Washington Redskins name? Does removing a statue or a name actually make a difference? Arianne Eason, a psychology professor at UC Berkeley, who studies the effect of mascots on minority groups joins the discussion. Then Boalt alum Michael Halloran explains his reasons for opposing the name change, and two recent Boalt grads explain why they were for it.
Laura and Leah discover they use the same mysterious astrology app, The Pattern. They try to figure out how it works, who owns it, and what The Pattern is really doing with their data, which takes them all the way across the country to a mailroom in Manhattan. Along the way, they consult with Serge Egelman, the research director at UC Berkeley’s International Computer Science Institute, who reveals the answers to an even scarier question: What access do we unknowingly give away to all apps on our phones?
Trailer: Welcome to The Edge
With help from UC Berkeley experts, California magazine editors Laura Smith and Leah Worthington explore cutting-edge, often controversial ideas in science, technology, and society. Should you be able to choose your baby’s IQ? Are algorithms really smarter than people? As we face a planet devastated by climate change, what is the future of food? All that and more.