This week's show

Perpetual Emotion Machine
Jun 18, 2018

Perpetual Emotion Machine
Compassionate computers and irrational human behavior.

ENCORE  Get ready for compassionate computers that feel your pain, share your joy, and generally get where you’re coming from.  Computers that can tell by your voice whether you’re pumped up or feeling down, or sense changes in heart rate, skin, or muscle tension to determine your mood.  Empathetic electronics that you can relate to.

But wait a minute – we don’t always relate to other humans.  Our behavior can be impulsive and even self-sabotaging – our emotions are often conflicted and irrational.   We cry when we’re happy.  Frown when we’re pensive.  A suite of factors, much of them out of our control, govern how we behave, from genes to hormones to childhood experience. 

One study says that all it takes for a defendant to receive a harsher sentence is a reduction in the presiding judge’s blood sugar.

So grab a cookie, and find out how the heck we can build computers that understand us anyway. 

Guests:

Descripción en español

originally aired June 19, 2017

Skeptic Check: Flat Earth
Jun 11, 2018
Skeptic Check: Flat Earth
Scientific vs science-like investigations.

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The Earth is not round.  Technically, it’s an oblate spheroid.  But for some people, the first statement is not even approximately correct.

Imagining Planets
Jun 04, 2018
Imagining Planets
Mars, Pluto, and extrasolar planets.

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Pluto, we hardly knew ye.  Well, not anymore!

Time on Your Side
May 28, 2018
Time on Your Side
Rewinding the biological clock.

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ENCORE  Time passes like an arrow, but what if it flew like a boomerang?  Scientists are learning how to reverse time’s most relentless march: aging.  But before we rewind time, let’s try to define it, because there’s plenty of debate about just what time is – a fundamental component of the universe or a construct of our consciousness?

Your Brain's Reins
May 21, 2018
Your Brain's Reins
Your brain’s hidden drivers

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ENCORE  You are your brain.  But what happens when your brain changes for the worse – either by physical injury or experience?  Are you still responsible for your actions?