ROBOTS! (and artificial intelligence)

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Friday, April 18, 2014

A special theme hour - starring a computer competing against a comedian for laughs, the Army's recruitment chatbot, and Google crushing on robots. 

Our Universal Robots

The word 'robot' first appeared in 1920 in Karel Čapek's play, Rossum's Universal Robots. Since then, intelligent machines have starred countless times in novels and films. Brooke talks with professor Jay P. Telotte about the ways our fears and fascinations with robots are reflected in culture. 

Music: Calexico - Attack El Robot! Attack! Special thanks to @bartona104 (Julia Barton) for the suggestion on Twitter!

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Engineering Intelligence

Despite the technological leaps made in the realm of artificial intelligence, people often object to the idea that the minds of machines can ever replicate the minds of humans. But for engineers, the proof is in the processing. Brooke talks with Stanford lecturer and entrepreneur Jerry Kaplan about how the people who make robots view the field of AI. 

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Google's Robot Brigade

Google has recently scooped up more than a half dozen robot companies. Their specialties range from artificial limbs to 3D machine vision to scurrying insect-bots and humanoid soldiers. But Google has kept mum about why they're acquiring these technologies. Brooke talks with Henrik Christensen, a professor of robotics at Georgia Tech, about what Google might do with its new toys. 

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The Army's Robot Recruiter

Sergeant Star is a chatbot designed to influence potential recruits to enlist. Alex Goldman of our podcast TLDR wasn't sure how he felt about that, so he talked to the Army and a reporter who's covered recruitment abuses to consider the pros and cons of deploying a Siri to guide our decision to go to war. 

This story originally appeared in a longer form on the TLDR Podcast. If you would like to hear a longer version of this story and Alex's update with Dave Maass of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, follow this link.

Music: Kraftwerk - Pocket Calculator. Special thanks to @M0X1 (Mo Xie) for the suggestion on Twitter!

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Robot Humor

We often think of robots as tools to make our lives easier. But what if they could also make our lives funnier?

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Joking With Robots

Myq Kaplan is a comedian known for his "robotic" delivery of jokes. That made him the perfect candidate to compete with Manatee, a joke-telling robot. Brooke talks with Kaplan about how robots might someday co-opt his comedic style.

Music: Dan Magnan - Robots. Special thanks to @jonaswoost (Jonas Woost) for the suggestion on Twitter!

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TLDR #22 - What Happens When You Tell The Whole Internet Your Password

Earlier this week, a commenter named Y. Woodman Brown posted his online passwords in the Washington Post comments section to show just how little his online security mattered to him. It was quickly picked up by the press as an example of online security hubris. Naturally, we had to find him. Alex talks to Y. Woodman Brown and the person who hijacked his Twitter account after the passwords were posted.

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