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The Stories We Tell Our Robots
45 minutes | Sep 1, 2019
Episode #29: Devilish Deals
Darien and Toby are joined by Dr. David Young, professor at Georgia Tech specializing in digital media communications to discuss the rise of end user license agreements by tech companies. They discuss the purpose and nature of these agreements, and whether, like a famous story goes, we’re selling our soul for modern conveniences.
49 minutes | Feb 25, 2019
Episode #28: Apocapod!
Darien and Dr. Tobias Wilson-Bates dig into the underlying concept of the apocalypse and what it means to most people today. Joined by Marlee Jane Ward, host of the podcast Catastropod, which examines narratives of the apocalypse, they look at how stories of the apocalypse have evolved over time, whether we’re in the midst of one already, and whether they’re really all that bad to begin with.
68 minutes | Jan 21, 2019
Episode #27: A Podcast of Death Foretold
Can we better predict suicide risk using social media data, and then take action to prevent more suicides? Social media platforms are starting to do just that, and like many things around social media, the issue is more complex, and potentially problematic, than it might first appear. Dr. Tobias-Wison Bates and Darien are joined by Dr. John P. Ackerman, suicide prevention coordinated at National Children’s Hospital to talk about the causes of suicide, the promising use of data to predict suicide risk, and also the possible challenges that arise when tech companies get involved.
59 minutes | Dec 17, 2018
Episode #26: Robot Eunuchs
Dr. Tobias Wilson-Bates and Darien are joined by Tucker Lieberman, author of the new book, Painting Dragons: What Storytellers Need to Know About Writing Eunuch Villains to talk about how technology is defining the gender of AI assistants. Lieberman looks at the dangers of taking a cliched approach to gender, and how technologists may be doing more than just creating a relatable interface when they’re creating gendered assistants.
43 minutes | Dec 9, 2018
Episode #25: Broken News
Dr. Tobias Wilson-Bates and Darien discuss the implications of new AI news anchors from China that are now bringing the speed of robots to broadcast news. Tobias examines the news in the light of William Morris’ utopian text, “News From Nowhere”, while Darien just wonders whether an AI host can predict election outcomes better than real hosts.
69 minutes | Nov 18, 2018
Episode #24: The Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting
Dr. Tobias Wilson-Bates and Darien discuss the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh and the resilience of anti-Semitic narratives throughout history. Darien interviews Ellen Maddow, award-winning playwright who wrote “Panic! Euphoria! Blackout.” which traces the history of Jewish persecution and boom-and-bust economic cycles.
51 minutes | Oct 21, 2018
Episode #23: Immoderate Moderation
Dr. Tobias Wilson-Bates and Darien are joined by Dr. Kate Holterhoff, founder and curator of Visual Haggard, a digital archive of the illustrations of the works of popular Victorian author Rider Haggard.As a curator of an archive full of controversial themes and imagery, Dr. Holterhoff talks about the dynamic of preserving and moderating content online, and the implications for major content sites like Facebook and YouTube.
35 minutes | Sep 26, 2018
Episode #22: The Eye of VARaun
Back for Season 3, Dr. Tobias Wilson-Bates and Darien discuss the impact of video assisted refereeing (VAR) at this summer's World Cup, and whether an all-seeing eye changes the playing field, and the nature of sport in general.
53 minutes | Jun 14, 2018
Episode #21: How technology ended death
Dr. Tobias Wilson-Bates and Darien are joined by Nick Olcott and Andrew Adelsberger, director and one of the lead cast members, from The Emperor of Atlantis, an opera that was written inside a Nazi prison camp, and is now opening in Washington, D.C. They explore the idea, introduced in the opera, that the rise of mechanized killing machines has changed how we understand death, and in turn, how we live our lives.
53 minutes | Jun 4, 2018
Episode #20: Sex-Driven Innovation
Everyone knows that porn is a big part of the Internet. But does pornography (and the human sex drive in general) drive much of human innovation? Dr. Tobias Wilson-Bates looks at how pornographic material helped lead a resurgence in an earlier technology (hint: it was epic), and Darien just wonders whether we'll ever be able to have a healthy understanding of our tech culture if we don't acknowledge the essential motivation of our sexual impulses.
43 minutes | May 21, 2018
Episode #19: Cryptokitties and Digital Hairballs
Dr. Tobias Wilson-Bates and Darien examine the brave new world of crypto kitties, and why humans are obsessed with unique things, even when there's very little functional value to that uniqueness. Toby looks at whether the answer can be found with Philip K. Dick and Darien just wants to know if cryptokitties need a litterbox.
59 minutes | May 14, 2018
Episode #18: Smart(ish) Factories
Dr. Tobias Wilson-Bates and Darien are joined by Jefferson Bates, a product manager at a major producer of IoT (Internet of Things) software for factories, to discuss whether the changing nature of factory production is likely to lead to massive global change, or just a series of small improvements. Jefferson discusses what's happening in the connected factory of today, and what might happen if robots stop working with us any time we're not in a good mood.
19 minutes | May 11, 2018
Episode #17 v2.0: Techsplaining Revisited
Feeling like they were so close to solving the issue, Dr. Tobias Wilson-Bates and Darien take one more stab at discussing paternalistic language in technology in this mini-episode. Toby brings a new, somewhat cringeworthy, poem to the table, and Darien discusses whether a new approach to problem solving through technology can be introduced at the point where projects get funded.
66 minutes | May 6, 2018
Episode #17: Techsplaining
Dr. Tobias Wilson-Bates and Darien invite guests Dr. Halcyon Lawrence and Dr. Liz Hutter on the pod to talk about the prevalence of paternalistic language among technologists (a.k.a. techsplaining). They discuss the potential issues that can occur when technologists approach the world as a problem that only their technological innovation can solve.
45 minutes | Apr 22, 2018
Episode #16: Scholarship 2.0
Darien and Dr. Tobias Wilson-Bates celebrate the retirement of Dr. Robin Bates (a.k.a. Dad) by bringing him onto the podcast. Along with being a professor and scholar, Robin Bates is also the author of a popular (if somewhat niche) literature blog Better Living Through Beowulf, which he has been running for the past 9 years. He shares how the Internet is shaping the ability of scholars to connect with people outside academe, and has the potential to reignite the appeal of classic literature.
48 minutes | Apr 15, 2018
Episode #15: Two Guys and a Garage - Climactic Pivots or Pivotal Climaxes
Dr. Tobias Wilson-Bates raises the question about how tech businesses manage big change, particularly when they've gone from a Silicon Valley favorite to public enemy number one (ahem, Facebook). Darien discusses the concept of business pivots and why they have such value for later stage startups and even mature companies that are striving to continue to maintain their market shine.
41 minutes | Apr 8, 2018
Episode #14: Two Guys and a Garage - The Myth of Failure
Why does every major story of startup success seem to involve some major setback, even a failure. Darien and Dr. Tobias Wilson-Bates discuss the prevalence of failure narratives in tech startups and why it's easy to find historical examples, but always hard to see one as it happens. Toby raises the prospect that our view of failure may be perpetuating problems in tech, while Darien is happy to hold on to any myth that helps him push through, regardless of its validity.
57 minutes | Apr 2, 2018
Episode #13: Can Robots Make Art?
Is art solely a human pursuit? Darien and Toby seek to answer this question by inviting former potter and current lead technologist Peter Kaiser to join the discussion. Peter shares his own experiences producing art and technology, and talks about the close link between these two fields. Toby asks whether a robot can produce art with a soul, and Darien just wonders whether robot art will actually sell.
40 minutes | Mar 22, 2018
Episode #12: Cambridge Analytica and the Banality of Digital Evil
As salacious details begin to emerge in the scandal of Cambridge Analytica, the predictive analytics company that has brought new scrutiny to the collection and use of "psychographic" profiling, Dr. Tobias Wilson-Bates and Darien attempt to predict what this means for the future of big data prophets (and profits). Toby finds a connection to "Oedipus at Colonus" (the "Return of the Jedi" of the Oedipus series). Darien wonders whether Cambridge Analytica might finally have made data analysis just a little bit sexy.
56 minutes | Mar 12, 2018
Episode #11: Two Guys and a Garage - Genesis Stories
Dr. Tobias Wilson-Bates and Darien kick off their Two Guys and a Garage series, which explores the role that origin stories play in the world of technology and business. First stop: genesis stories. Darien breaks down the origin story formula into its core components, and Toby looks at how Charles Dickens used origin stories long before the rise of tech startups to establish his own business advantages.
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