Bull Session

Artificial Intelligence

March 31, 2016          

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Episode Summary

On The Digital Life this week, we chat about the evolution of artificial intelligence in light of recent public failure and success by tech giants in the AI space. First, Microsoft had to terminate Tay, its teenage chatbot, after the bot started tweeting neo-Nazi propaganda and other abusive language at people. Meanwhile, Google’s DeepMind has created an AI capable of beating some of the very best human players in the world at Go, the Asian strategy board game.

Resources
Microsoft Terminates Its Tay AI Chatbot after She Turns into a Nazi
In a Huge Breakthrough Google AI Beats a Top Player at the Game of Go


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Jon Follett
@jonfollett

Dirk Knemeyer
@dknemeyer

Bull Session

On Cloning

March 24, 2016          

Episode Summary

On The Digital Life this week, we discuss efforts to clone animal species to save them from extinction. In Seoul, Korea, a controversial lab plans to clone endangered animals using a technique called Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT), in which you extract the nucleus of skin cells from the animal you wish to clone, and then insert them into an egg with its nucleus removed. The lab has successfully used SCNT in their current business, cloning favorite pets who are recently deceased for a high price tag.

Resources
Inside the Cloning Factory that Creates 500 New Animals a Day

Bull Session

Digital Afterlife

March 17, 2016          

Episode Summary

This week on The Digital Life we discuss how death, burial, and remembrance is changing as it intersects with technology.

A host of factors, from demographic shifts and an increasing population to lack of land space and environmental concerns, are changing the ways in which we remember the departed.

For instance, in a downtown Tokyo temple, Ruriden, a futuristic graveyard space, features thousands of glowing glass Buddha statues. Each of these statues will eventually represent a deceased person and visitors can use a swipe card to easily locate the correct statue corresponding to their deceased family member or friend. The selected statue glows a different color when the visitor arrives.

From green cemeteries burying bodies equipped with a global positioning device to virtual graveyards and digital memorials, death and burial are changing as the digital life gives way to the digital afterlife.

Bull Session

Future Crime and the Surveillance State

March 10, 2016          

Episode Summary

On The Digital Life this week, we discuss future crime and the surveillance state in light of China’s recent efforts to use predictive analytics and big data to stop terrorism. China Electronics Technology Group, a state-run defense contractor, is developing the software to analyze data on everything from employment to hobbies to purchasing habits of ordinary citizens to try to predict terrorist acts before they happen. The software, in more ways than one, echoes the fantastical pre-crime technology featured in the science fiction film Minority Report. In this week’s episode we explore the question of predicting crime using technology and its consequences.

Bull Session

Robot World

March 1, 2016          

Episode Summary

This week on The Digital Life, we discuss a world filled with robots and what this could mean for humanity as we adjust to another type of “being” in our midst. It’s coming sooner than we might think.

For instance, last week, Boston Dynamics, a Google company, released a video of their next generation Atlas robot, that shows it walking through the snowy woods, recovering from slips, and picking up a 10-pound box.

To demonstrate the robot’s resilience, a Boston Dynamics employee wielding a hockey stick pushes the robot backwards, knocks a box out of its hands, and even shoves it to the ground. The robot is able to recover each time and go back to work, but the unease of watching a near humanoid manage these abusive trials is palpable. The phenomenon, known as the Uncanny Valley, has long-term implications for collaborative robotics.


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