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Special Project

Special Project
From the 16th Annual Shorty Awards

IRL: Online Life is Real Life, Season 7

Gold Honor in Science & Technology Podcast

Audience Honor in Science & Technology Podcast


Mozilla’s latest season of the podcast, IRL: Online Life is Real Life, sets out to demonstate that it is possible to put people ahead of profit in AI development.

Through a five-episode arc, host Bridget Todd interviews people who are confronting the societal risks of AI head on with practices, products, and principles in the public interest. In each episode, listeners hear from a variety of voices, ranging from renowned AI researchers and policy experts, to the unsung and often invisible tech workers who help train AI systems.

Strategy and Execution

For Season 7, we teamed up with Moz25: a celebration of 25 years of the Mozilla project, with a clear eyed vision for what we want the next 25 years of the internet to look like. Our joint goal was to introduce listeners to visionaries and trailblazers from around the world who are reclaiming the internet and shaping the future of AI. 

We set out to create a season that spans the globe and spans AI topics. And to demonstrate just how human AI is. To do that, we cast a wide net across our network who were able to introduce us to data workers, artists, entrepreneurs, regulators, researchers, and activists, all working together to shape a brighter AI future.

With a topic that shifts shape on the daily, we found ourselves doing a whole lot of rewriting on some episodes. In particular, our Crash Test Dummies episode, kept changing in real time until the final minutes, as autonomous vehicles in San Francisco were under fierce scrutiny. But, in the end, we’re proud of the story we were able to tell, and it just proved the point of that episode: how we deploy AI matters, and has real life consequences.

Our work is unique in that it cuts through the AI hype to talk about how human tech is: in terms of how it’s built, and in terms of its impact on our lives. We look to the future, by tending to the present. And because we know the impact of tech is felt everywhere, and we don’t believe the best tech ideas are limited to one geographic location, listeners get to hear stories that are relatable to their own lives, no matter where they are.


A key part of the IRL podcast is to show that alternatives to the Big Tech status quo exist. That tech can put people over profit. Thanks to IRL, we were able to co-host a policy event in DC with participants from tech, Congress, and the White House. We're proud that the topics we cover in the pod are so relevant to decision makers as they navigate the complexities of tech regulation.

Our listener numbers are also continuing to grow: we're reaching even more people than last season. And IRL is close to hitting the 4 million download mark. Season 7 has been featured by Apple Podcasts for two weeks and counting.


Video for IRL: Online Life is Real Life, Season 7

Entrant Company / Organization Name

Mozilla Foundation


Entry Credits