23 October, 2019 – Episode 744 – Don’t Fear the AI


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What is in the This Week in Science Podcast?

Interview w/ Dr. Melanie Mitchell on AI, Prime Editing, Quantum Supremacy, Cosmological Crisis, Smarty Crabs, Fast Ants, Elbow Sex, Shark Buddies!!, Plants!, And Much More…

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One of the fundamental rules of defining a human is this.

Humans are humans, and
anything that is not human,
is not human.

Seems simple enough, and yet…
One of the fundamental tendencies humans have
is to humanize anything that is not human.

And yet, clocks do not really have faces…
And when apes show emotions, while they might appear to be human,
It could just as well be that humans are experiencing ape emotions.

Somewhere in the in-between there are truths that may not be comfortable.
A face can at times just be a facade that displays information.
An emotion can be separated from social context, and universal across many species

And while there is no doubt humans have the ability to be intelligent…
There is increasing evidence that we are not alone in this.
And what is the one thing intelligent creatures of all sorts have in common?
They all have a never ending thirst for more…

This Week in Science,
Coming Up Next…

Are you ready for an interview?

Interview w/ Dr. Melanie Mitchell
Melanie Mitchell is Professor of Computer Science at Portland State University, and External Professor and Co-Chair of the Science Board at the Santa Fe Institute. She attended Brown University, where she majored in mathematics and did research in astronomy, and the University of Michigan, where she received a Ph.D. in computer science. Her newest book is called Artificial Intelligence: A Guide for Thinking Humans.

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This Week in What Has Science Done for me Lately?!?

This week Kai tells a story of how science helped us understand that lilies are poisonous for cats, and how to help our cats when they had been exposed to lily pollen.

Let us know what science has done for you lately, and we will read it on the show!

Now, let’s continue with SCIENCE NEWS!…

Prime Editing
The Broad Institute is at it again with an alternative to the CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing system that might be more accurate and useful for genetic disease therapies. Not everyone is buying into the hype though.

Quantum Supremacy
Google says their 53 bit quantum computing system surpassed conventional computers, and can claim “quantum supremacy.” IBM begs to differ.

Crisis in Cosmology!
New data suggests the universe expanding more rapidly than believed

And, now it’s time for Blair’s Animal Corner!

Crabs are smart!
They can solve mazes just like mice, and even have some memory for it.

World’s fastest ant!
This bug runs nearly a meter a second. That’s 108 body lengths, or the equivalent of 2 football fields to us. Yikes!

Let’s end with some quick SCIENCE NEWS stories!…

Elbow Sex
Researchers discovered sexual dimorphism of the distal humerus, or elbow, of Thai skeletons.

Scientists sequence 1,100 plants

Shark buddies!!
Sharks may hang out in friend groups, shattering another expectation for these aquatic “terrors.”

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