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Friday, August 08, 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 scooped up more than a half dozen robot companies, but they are keeping mum about why they're acquiring these technologies.


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!


Robot Humor

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


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!