Reddit, Conde Nast Launch ‘Cyborg Nation’ Documentary Series

Conde Nast Entertainment and Reddit are launching six-part documentary series “Cyborg Nation,” exploring the bleeding edge of human-technology interfaces, in the discussion community site’s first entertainment deal.

The series is slated to premiere Wednesday on Wired’s channel on The Scene, CNÉ’s digital video hub. Each episode, about 5 minutes in length, is hosted by Derek Muller, creator of the YouTube Veritasium science channel.

Topics for “Cyborg Nation,” including profiles of bionic-legged rock climber Hugh Herr and SynTouch, the first company to produce a mechanical sensor that replicates human touch (pictured above), were recommended by members of the r/Futurology subreddit, according to Alexis Ohanian, Reddit’s co-founder and executive chairman.

“The hundreds of thousands of communities of Reddit generate more original ideas in one day than the world’s best newsroom could produce in a lifetime,” Ohanian said.

Condé Nast acquired Reddit in 2006 but spun it off in 2011. Advance Publications, Conde Nast’s parent company, remains Reddit’s majority shareholder.

For Conde Nast, the deal with Reddit was a great fit with the future-focused spin of Wired, said Michael Klein, CNÉ’s executive VP of programming and content strategy for digital channels. Plus, “there’s a huge audience” on Reddit, he said, which ideally will drive discussion about and viewing of the series. Following the launch of “Cyborg Nation,” the companies will host a series of Reddit AMAs (“as me anything” Q&A sessions) with some of the profile subjects, with those to yet to be confirmed.

Reddit, founded in 2005, recently has enforced stricter limits on the site’s open, freewheeling culture. Interim CEO Ellen Pao resigned this summer, after attacks directed toward her following the firing of a popular Reddit manager. Co-founder Steve Huffman stepped in as CEO and subsequently issued new content guidelines prohibiting harassment, illegal activity and other objectionable behavior.

Klein said he wasn’t concerned about the Reddit controversies. “I know there’s a happy, engaged community at Reddit,” he said.

“Cyborg Nation” was produced by creative agency Acres New York. The series is executive produced by Ohanian, Acres’ Andrew Simkiss and Matt McLaughlin, Reddit’s Michael Pope and CNÉ’s Rachel Samuels.

Other episodes in the series cover “cyber roaches” that can be used to find survivors in earthquake rubble; brain-computer interface technologies; and exoskeleton robots that help people recovering from strokes or spinal-cord injuries walk again.

 

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