Web Summit’s Photo of Sophia the Robot.
Web Summit’s Photo of Sophia the Robot.

Cosmic Queries – Humans and Robots

How will humans and robots co-exist? For some, Sophia the Robot blurs the line between humanity and robotics. Image Credit: Web Summit / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)
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About This Episode

What separates humans from robots? What happens when we’re no longer able to tell the difference? On this episode of StarTalk Radio, Neil deGrasse Tyson is back again with comic co-host Chuck Nice and robot ethicist Kate Darling, PhD, to answer your questions on humans, robots, and everything in-between. 

We start by freshening up on the Turing test. The Turing test is a test of a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behavior equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, a human. You’ll learn why, in order to pass the test, a machine just has to “pass” as human. Kate tells us how chatbots have “tricked” the test to pass. That leads to one the most interesting arguments of today – if a machine passes the test, should it be granted the same rights as a human?

We discuss why robots are more likely to get rights before animals, even though the conversations surrounding each are very similar. Kate tells us more about humanity’s urge to “play God.” You’ll learn about robots that don’t look humanoid and our tendency to not include them in the conversation. Is your coffee machine a robot? Kate explains what defines a robot. You’ll hear about the “think-sense-act” paradigm. 

We explore why humans project emotions onto robots and our overall tendency to anthropomorphize everything. Kate talks about what our behavior towards robots can tell us about our personalities. Find out if robots will be used as a replacement for therapy animals.

Lastly, we ponder what kind of jobs could eventually be taken over by automation. Could a surgeon pre-program a surgery for a robot to perform? You’ll also hear more about humanity’s uneasiness with automation. All that, plus, we investigate whether Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics still hold up. And, Kate tells us why her favorite robot movie is WALL-E.

Thanks to our patrons Rusty Faircloth, Jaclyn Mishak, Thomas Hernke, Marcus Rodrigues Guimaraes, Alex Pierce, Radu Chichi, Dustin Laskosky, Stephanie Tasker, Charles J Lamb, and Jonathan J Rodriguez for supporting us this week.

Special thanks to patron Michelle Danic for our Patreon Patron Episode ID this week.

NOTE: StarTalk+ Patrons and All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free.

In This Episode

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