What I Love… Radiolab

I was listening to a recent episode of Radiolab about how talking machines make us question what it means to be human, to be alive. The part of this piece that I liked the most was their discussion of an AI computer which they developed where the students who actually helped develop it wanted to spend time with it. This computer kept the conversation going with what seemed like simple questions, but the students couldn’t resist it. They were revealing their inner most thoughts to a machine, knowingly.

I wonder if the allure of talking this machine was it taking the sense of fear and judgment out of what was being said and felt. It can be scary to reveal our hopes and fears to another person. Some of us refuse to open up while others do it freely, but to be able to do it to a machine and know that it’s not going to  think less of us because what we say, may just make it easier to open up. Perhaps there was a need for companionship,  to have someone listen. Sometimes I feel as if some people know only how  to talk and not to listen. Sometimes  I’m guilty of this, but I have noticed others just as guilty as me. How nice does it feel when someone actually seems to hear what we say? While this computer program might have had no actual conscious awareness of what was being said, the way it reacted and picked up on keywords to keep the conversation going, made it appear that way.

This episode and other awesome Radiolab episodes that I love can be found here: http://www.radiolab.org/

One Comment to “What I Love… Radiolab”

  1. Radio Lab is the best radioshow/podcast out there, I think.

    It is interesting how talking to things works, in terms of human psychology. We always overestimate the amount of “mind” that other things have, weather it’s animals, or robots or whatever. So it seems that when we talk to a dog, for example, and it looks at us, smiling, there is some part of our brain that thinks it understands us. I think the same thing probably is happening with the robot. It says certain things that make part of our brains believe it understands. But then, we know it doesn’t, and somehow this mix makes up comfortable to open up to it. At least, that’s my theory.

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