Mystery AI Hype Theater 3000

Artificial Intelligence has too much hype. In this stream, linguist Prof. Emily M. Bender and sociologist Dr. Alex Hanna break down the AI hype, separate fact from fiction, and science from bloviation. They're joined by special guests and talk about everything, from machine consciousness to science fiction, to political economy to art made by machines.

If you prefer this in podcast form or want to read the transcript, find Mystery AI Hype Theater 3000 on Buzzsprout or wherever you get your podcasts. https://www.buzzsprout.com/2126417

And if you can't wait for the next stream, Alex and Emily have plenty to say in their regular newsletter dispatches. Subscribe via Buttondown here.

Episode 32 - A Flood of AI Hell

Alex and Emily slog through the meltwaters of previously frozen AI Hell. And yeah, there's a special corner for ShotSpotter.

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Screenshot of a Zoom meeting with four participants. On the top left is Alex Hanna, an Arab woman wearing a black and gold sleeveless t-shirt. She is glaring at her screen and halfway through saying something. She is sitting in a room with art on the walls behind her. On the top right is Lisa Messeri, a white woman with shoulder-length, somewhat curly hair. She is wearing a white shirt, and behind her is a white wall and a soft green armchair. On the bottom left is Molly Crockett, a white person with short, loosely curled brown hair. The room behind them has yellow walls and a window open to some trees. On the bottom right is Emily Bender, a white woman with short-ish curly brown hair. She is wearing glasses and a patterned blue and orange top. Her background is an image of pink cherry trees. She, Molly and Lisa all appear to be laughing at what Alex is saying.

Episode 31 - Science Is a Human Endeavor

Drs. Molly Crockett and Lisa Messeri examine why AI can't do our scientific research for us.

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Screenshot of a Zoom meeting with two participants. On the left is a screenshare of a web document. The top header reads, "Lies," and there are several smaller font sentences below. The second header reads, "Truth," and again, there are several points in smaller font below. On the right, the thumbnail images of two participants: on the top is Alex Hanna, an Arab woman wearing a gray shirt. Her left hand is raised as if she is making a point. She is sitting in a room with art on the walls behind her. On the bottom panel is Timnit Gebru, a Black woman wearing glasses and a gray hoodie. She holds her left hand to her face and her expression appears frustrated. The wall behind her is off-white.

Episode 30 - Marc's Miserable Manifesto

Timnit Gebru joins Alex to tear apart Marc Andreessen's lofty TESCREAL manifesto.

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Screenshot of a Zoom meeting with three participants. In the upper left, Alex Hanna, an Arab woman with medium-length curly black hair. She wears glasses and a white shirt, and is smiling at the camera. Behind her is a wall covered in art, and in front of her is the arm of a podcasting microphone. In the upper right is Emily Bender, a white woman with medium-length curly brown hair. She wears glasses and a blue patterned top, and is smiling at the camera. Her background is an image of cherry trees in blossom. On the bottom at the center is Karen Hao, an Asian woman with her long black hair pulled behind her. She wears a black shirt, and earrings. In the room behind her is a low cabinet with a plant on it and a small stack of books.

Episode 29 - How LLMs Are Breaking the News

AI journalist Karen Hao helps Alex and Emily look at how generative AI is poised to hollow out already-struggling media outlets.

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Screenshot of a Zoom meeting. On the left, a screenshared research paper discusses the 'political views' of LLM-generated data. The model simulates Democrats describing what they think about Republicans using words like "ignorant" and "racist." The LLM-generated Republican describes Democrats as "liberal" and "socialist." On the right are the thumbnails of Alex and Emily's faces. Alex is laughing. Behind her is a room with a lot of art on the walls. and Emily is holding her pen while appearing emphatic. Behind her is an image of red tulips.

Episode 28 - LLMs Are Not Human Subjects

We take on research papers claiming LLMs could be used to replace human labor and human subjects in social science research.

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Screenshot of a Zoom meeting. On the left, a screenshared image of a rat from a scientific paper. It has obviously been generated by AI, with a cross-section view of very large penis and the wrong number of testicles, plus AI-generated text with incorrect spellings and weird letter shapes. On the right, the faces of the four meeting participants are different levels of amused. The bottom of the screen is covered in images of flames.

Episode 27 - Asimov's Laws vs. AI Death-Making (w/Annalee Newitz & Charlie Jane Anders)

We focus on the pitfalls of global and US military institutions attempting to build 'ethical' frameworks for autonomous weapons.

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Screenshot of a Zoom meeting with three participants. At the top left is Alex Hanna, an Arab woman with curly black hair. She sits in front of a large podcasting microphone, and wears a gray sweater. The wall behind her is filled with art. On the top right is Emily M. Bender, a white woman with curly brown hair. She wears glasses and a green shirt. The image behind her is of snow-covered conifer trees under a night sky. At the bottom is Chris Guillard, who is represented by an illustrated avatar. One half of his face is a portrait of a Black man with long black and blue locs, glasses, and a short beard. The left half of his face is covered in a cyberpunk-like mask with goggles and neon blue highlights.

Episode 26 - Universities Anxiously Buy in to the Hype (feat. Chris Gilliard)

We review AI-driven educational technologies, and the lack of protections for terms of data privacy or emotional safety.

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Screenshot of a Zoom meeting. Most of the image is a screenshare from a website showing a very large graph. It's unclear what's even being measured, but the data is represented as bands of color that form a rainbow, with the leftmost ones shortest and the rightmost ones longest. The effect is of a mountain that rises up to the right. On the left, two very small thumbnails of the participants: Alex Hanna, an Arab woman with curly black hair, and Emily M. Bender, a white woman with curly brown hair.

Episode 25 - An LLM Says LLMs Can Do Your Job

Alex and Emily unpack implausible claims about the number of workforce tasks LLMs might make cheaper, faster or easier.

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Screenshot of a Zoom meeting with four participants. On the top left is Alex Hanna, an Arab woman with curly black hair. toher shoulders. She wears dangly earrings and a black top. The room behind her appears to be a hotel room, with a white-quilted bed and teal patterned walls. On the top right is Eleanor Drage, a white woman with straight brown hair pulled back. She is wearing a patterned floral top. Behind her is an off-white wall. On the bottom right is Kerry McInerney, an Asian woman with long black hair half pulled behind her head. She wears glasses, red lipstick and a yellow top. The room behind her has a plant and a guitar. On the bottom left is Emily M. Bender, a white woman with curly brown hair. She wears glasses and a purple shawl over her black shirt. The image behind her is of snow-covered confier trees under a dark night sky.

Episode 24 - AI Won't Solve Structural Inequality (Kerry McInerney & Eleanor Drage)

Feminist technosolutionism critics Eleanor Drage and Kerry McInerney tear down AI as a solution to structural inequality.

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Screenshot of a Zoom meeting with two participants. On the left is Alex Hanna, an Arab woman wearing a black knit cap with a pom-pom on top. She is also wearing a gray, button-up sweater. The wall behind her is covered in art. On the right is Emily M. Bender, a white woman wearing a felted round hat. She wears glasses, a white and red patterned scarf, and a puffy red jacket. In the background is a photo of snow-covered conifer trees under a night sky.

Episode 23 - AI Hell Freezes Over

Alex and Emily visit all seven circles of AI Hell in a whirlwind tour of the worst in bite-sized BS.

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Screenshot of a Zoom meeting with three participants. On the top left is Alex Hanna, an Arab woman with curly black hair. She is wearing hoop earrings, glasses and a black shirt, and his holding a small blue coffee mug up to her mouth. Behind her is a wall covered in art. On the top right is Emily M. Bender, a white woman with curly brown hair. She wears glasses and a gray sweatshirt, and is holding a teal coffee mug up to her mouth. Behind her is an image of snow-covered conifer trees under a night sky. At the bottom is Justin Hendrix, a white man with stubble and short brown hair. He is wearing a black t-shirt and large headphones, and his background has been blurred.

Episode 22 - Congressional 'AI' Hearings Say More about Lawmakers

Justin Hendrix joins to talk about the limitations of the hearings, and how legislation on data privacy could make a difference.

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Screenshot of a Zoom meeting. On the left is a screenshare of a webpage, centered on a table assessing LLM model openness on traits like "Open code" and "LLM weights" and the availability of different documentation. Checkmarks are highlighted in green, uncertainty/middle responses in yellow, and no/x marks in red. On the right, the thumbnails of four meeting participants. At top, Emily M. Bender, a white woman with curly brown hair, wearing a green scarf. Second is Sarah West, a white woman with long, straight brown hair. Third is Andreas Liesenfeld, a white man with short, dark blond hair. Last is Alex Hanna, an Arab woman with curly black hair pulled behind her head.

Episode 21 - The True Meaning of 'Open Source'

Sarah West and Andreas Liesenfeld join us to examine what software companies really mean when they say 'open source.'

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Screenshot of a Zoom meeting with two participants. On the right is a screenshared document that looks like it was written on a typewriter. It reads in all caps, "A proposal for the Dartmouth Summer Research Project on artificial intelligence. J. McCarthy, Dartmouth College. M.L. Minsky, Harvard University. N. Rochester, I.B.M. Corporation. C.E. Shannon, Bell Telephone Laboratories." On the right are the thumbnails of the participants: Alex Hanna, an Arab woman with curly black hair pulled back. She is wearing thick, black-framed glasses, a gray suit jacket, white collared shirt and black tie. The room behind her is covered in art. On the bottom is Emily M. Bender, a white woman who is wearing a long, straight brown wig. She also wears a collared white shirt under a purple cardigan sweater, and glasses. The room behind her has a white wall and closed off-white window shades.

Episode 20 - Let's Do the Time Warp! (to the "Founding" of "Artificial Intelligence")

Emily and Alex time travel back to an event commonly mythologized as the founding of the field of artificial intelligence.

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Screenshot of a Zoom meeting with four participants. On the bottom left panel is Emily M. Bender, a white woman with curly brown hair. She is wearing glasses, white wired headphones, and a purple top. Behind her are closed beige window blinds and a white wall. On the top left is Emma Strubell, a white woman with straight brown hair to her chin. She is sitting in a room with a whiteboard behind her and a window to her right. On the top right is Alex Hanna, an Arab woman with shoulder-length curly black hair. She wears earrings, a pink shirt, and a black blazer, and the room behind her has art all over the walls. On the bottom right is Sasha Luccioni, a white woman with her blond hair pulled back behind her. She wears black wired headphones and a teal top. Behind her is a room with white walls and wood-framed windows.

Episode 19 - The Murky Climate and Environmental Impact of Large Language Models

Drs. Emma Strubell and Sasha Luccioni join Emily and Alex for an environment-focused hour of AI hype.

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Episode 18 - Rumors of Artificial General Intelligence Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

Emily and Alex read through Google vice president Blaise Aguera y Arcas' recent proclamation that "artificial general intelligence is already here."

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Screenshot of a Zoom meeting with three participants. On the bottom panel is Alex Hanna, an Arab woman with black, curly hair to her shoulders. She is wearing chunky earrings and a dark blue blazer. Behind her is a room with multiple pieces of art on the walls. In the top left panel is Emily Bender, a white woman with short-ish curly brown hair. She wears glasses, chunky earrings, a dark top and a blue patterned scarf. Behind her is a room with white walls and a window with closed off-white blinds. In the top right panel is Haley Lepp, a white woman with shoulder-length brown hair. She is sitting in a room with closed window blinds and several plants behind her.

Episode 17 - Back to School with AI Hype in Education

Emily and Alex are joined by Stanford PhD student Haley Lepp to examine the increasing hype around LLMs in education spaces.

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Screenshot of a Zoom meeting with three participants. On the left is a screenshared image of two bar graphs. The top graph is labelled, "High Quality Answer Traits," and includes things like, "Better reflects consensus." The second graph is labelled, "Potential Answer Risks," and includes traits like, "More inaccurate/irrelevant information." On the right are the thumbnails of the participants. On the top panel is Alex Hanna, an Arab woman with black, curly hair to her shoulders. She is wearing a sleeveless gray shirt. Behind her is a room with multiple pieces of art on the walls. In the middle panel is Emily Bender, a white woman with short-ish curly brown hair. She wears glasses, earrings, and a blue and white top. She is looking downward. Behind her is a room with beige walls and a window with closed off-white blinds. In the bottom panel is Roxana Daneshjou, a Persian woman with long, straight brown hair. She is sitting in an office with glass doors and a whiteboard behind her.

Episode 16 - Med-PaLM or Facepalm? A Second Opinion On LLMs In Healthcare

A look at the two-tiered system that might emerge if LLMs are brought into the diagnostic process, with biomedical data science Roxana Daneshjou.

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Screenshot of a Zoom meeting with two participants. On the left is a screenshared image that appears to be of a white-floored office lobby with blue, round benches for seating. A blond woman wearing a black business suit and high heels is holding out her right hand to a white-colored humanoid robot that stands at the height of her waist. They appear about to shake hands. On the right are the thumbnails of the participants. On the bottom panel is Emily Bender, a white woman with short-ish curly brown hair. She wears glasses, earrings, and a blue and white top. Behind her is a room with beige walls and a window with closed off-white blinds. On the top panel is Alex Hanna, an Arab woman with black, curly hair to her shoulders. She is wearing a gray button-up shirt over a white shirt. Behind her is a room with multiple pieces of art on the walls.

Episode 15 - The White House and Big Tech Dance the Self-Regulation Tango

Emily and Alex tackle the White House hype about the 'voluntary commitments' of companies to limit the harms of their LLMs.

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Screenshot of a Zoom meeting with three participants. On the left is a screenshared mage that appears to be a satellite map of terrain with multiple points labelled in different colors. An image of an airplane is connected to one point by a drawn-on white line. On the right are the thumbnails of the participants.  In the center is Emily Bender, a white woman with short-ish curly brown hair. She wears glasses, earrings, and a green top. Behind her is a room with beige walls and a window with closed blinds. On the top panel is Alex Hanna, an Arab woman with her black, curly hair pulled back. She is wearing a black top. Behind her is a room with multiple pieces of art on the walls. On the bottom panel is Lucy Suchman, a white woman with short white hair. She is wearing glasses and a green top. Behind her is a room with green walls and bookshelves behind her.

Episode 14 - Henry Kissinger, Machines of War, and the Age of Military AI Hype

Emily and Alex are joined by Dr. Lucy Suchman to scrutinize a new book from Henry Kissinger that declares a new 'Age of AI'

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Screenshot of a Zoom meeting with three participants. On top left is Emily Bender, a white woman with short-ish curly brown hair. She wears glasses, earrings, and a purple top. Behind her is a room with one brown wall and one off-white wall, and a painting on her right. On the top right panel is Alex Hanna, an Arab woman with her black, curly hair pulled back. She is wearing a yellow top. Behind her is a room with multiple pieces of art on the walls and a plant on the floor. On the bottom panel is Hannah Zeavin, a white woman with curly blond hair with dark roots. She is wearing a top with green and white stripes, and sits in front of an art-covered white wall.

Episode 13 - Beware the Robo-Therapist

Emily and Alex talk to UC Berkeley scholar Hannah Zeavin about the datafication and automation of mental health services.

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Screenshot of a Zoom meeting. On the left, a screenshare of a document titled: "Language Models Need Therapists Too." On the right, the thumbnails of two participants. On top is Emily Bender, a white woman with short-ish curly brown hair. She wears glasses, a purple top, and a light purple scarf. Behind her is a white wall and a window with closed beige blinds. On the bottom panel is Alex Hanna, an Arab woman with medium-length black hair. She is wearing a a short-sleeved red and black top. Behind her is a room with multiple pieces of art on the walls and a plant on the floor.

Episode 12 - It's All Hell

Take a deep breath and join Alex and Emily in hell itself, as they take down a month's worth of AI hype.

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Screenshot of a Zoom meeting. On the left, a screenshare of a document titled: "Sparks of Artificial General Intelligence: Early experiments with GPT-4" On the right, the thumbnails of two participants. On top is Emily Bender, a white woman with short-ish curly brown hair. She wears glasses, a purple top, and a dark scarf. Behind her is a white wall and a window with a plant in front of it. On the bottom panel is Alex Hanna, an Arab woman with medium-length black hair. She is wearing a blue sweater over a pink shirt. Behind her is a room with multiple pieces of art on the walls.

Episode 11 - A GPT-4 Fanfiction Novella

Alex and Emily shovel the BS on GPT-4’s “system card,” alleged “sparks of Artificial General Intelligence,” and an "AI pause" letter.

Live stream, Podcast, Transcript

Screenshot of a Zoom meeting with three participants. On the bottom center is Emily M. Bender, a white woman with short-ish curly brown hair. She wears glasses and a dark top. Behind her is a room with a beige wall and a window to the outdoors. On the top right is Alex Hanna, an Arab woman with medium-length black hair. She is wearing a pastel and white top. Behind her is a room with bookshelves on one side and several plants. On the top left is Kendra Albert, a white nonbinary person with very short-cut brown hair. They are wearing a black t-shirt with white print, and sit in a room with bookshelves behind them.

Episode 10 - Don't Be A Lawyer, ChatGPT

Alex and Emily are joined by law and technology scholar Kendra Albert for a conversation about ChatGPT.

Live stream, Podcast, Transcript

Screenshot of a Zoom meeting with two participants. On the left is Emily M. Bender, a white woman with short-ish curly brown hair. She wears glasses and wears a red patterned shirt. Behind her is a room with a beige wall. On the right is Alex Hanna, an Arab woman with medium-length black hair. She is wearing a gray short-sleeved top and a stethoscope around her neck. Behind her is a room with bookshelves on one side and several plants.

Episode 9 - Call The AI Quack Doctor

Alex and Emily discuss the not-so-real medical and healthcare applications of ChatGPT and other large language models.

Live stream, Podcast, Transcript

Screenshot of a Zoom meeting with two participants. On the left is a webpage on a shared screen, presenting a "timeline of key Microsoft AI breakthroughs." To the right are the images of the two participants: on the top is Emily M. Bender, a white woman with short-ish curly brown hair. She wears glasses and wears a red shirt. Behind her is a room with a beige wall and a window. On the bottom is Alex Hanna, an Arab woman with medium-length black hair. She is wearing a black top. Behind her is a room with bookshelves on one side and several plants.

Episode 8 - The ChatGPT Awakens

Emily and Alex discuss ChatGPT and all the surrounding hype. Also, more fresh AI hell.

Live stream, Podcast, Transcript

Screenshot of a Zoom meeting with three participants. In the bottom center is Emily Bender, a white woman with short-ish curly brown hair. She wears glasses and has a blue scarf draped over her shoulders. Behind her is a white wall and some closed beige window blinds. On the top right panel is Alex Hanna, an Arab woman with medium-length black hair. She is wearing a yellow knit cap, a mustard yellow cardigan, and a pink scarf around her neck. Behind her is a room with bookshelves on one side and several plants. In the top left panel is Jeremy G. Kahn, a white man with gray hair and glasses. He wears a dark-colored shirt, big headphones, and a gray scarf around his neck. In the room behind him is a bookshelf full of books.

Episode 7 - There Are Now 15 Competing Evaluation Metrics

Emily and Alex are joined this week by Dr. Jeremy G. Kahn to discuss evaluation metrics and some new AI hell.

Live stream, Podcast, Transcript

Screenshot of a Zoom meeting. On the left is Emily Bender, a white woman with short-ish curly brown hair. She wears glasses, earrings, and a black shirt, as well as a black beret. Behind her is a white wall and some closed beige window blinds. On the right panel is Alex Hanna, an Arab woman with medium-length black hair. She is wearing a black jumper over a white t-shirt. Behind her is a room with bookshelves on one side and several plants.

Episode 6 - Stochastic Parrot Galactica

Emily and Alex discuss MetaAI's bullshit science paper generator, Galactica, along with its defenders. Also, more fresh AI hell.

Live stream, Podcast, Transcript

Screenshot of a Zoom meeting. On the left is Emily Bender, a white woman with short-ish curly brown hair. She wears glasses, earrings, and a gray hoodie. Behind her is a white wall and some closed beige window blinds. On the right panel is Alex Hanna, an Arab woman with medium-length black hair. She is wearing a black shirt and a yellow knit hat. Behind her is a room with bookshelves on one side and several plants.

Episode 5 - Sam Bankman-Fried's Future Fund and Fresh AI Hell

Emily and Alex discuss Sam Bankman-Fried's Future Fund and their essay contest.

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Screenshot of a Zoom meeting. On the left, a shared screen with a news article loaded: the headline reads "An AI-generated picture won an art prize. Artists aren't happy." The sub-headline reads: "I won, and I didn't break any rules,' the artwork's creator says." Below the headline is an AI-generated image with science fiction themes, people in robes standing in front of a giant round window that looks out on a arid landscape. On the right, the tiny thumbnail images of four people: Alex Hanna, an Arab woman in a pink head wrap; Jonathan Flowers, a Black man wearing glasses and a purple shirt; Jennifer Lena, a white woman with long brown hair; Negar Rostamzadeh, a Persian woman with medium length brown hair that is swept over to one side.

Episode 4 - Is AI Art Actually "Art"?

Emily and Alex are joined this week by Drs. Johnathan Flowers, Negar Rostamzedah, and Jennifer Lena to discuss the hype around AI Art.

Live stream, Podcast, Transcript

Screenshot of a Zoom meeting. On the top is Emily Bender, a white woman with short-ish curly brown hair. She wears glasses and a purple top, as well as a white baseball cap with a blue brim. Behind her is a white wall and some closed beige window blinds. On the bottom panel is Alex Hanna, an Arab woman with medium-length black hair. She is also wearing a white baseball cap with a blue brim, and she also wears a white shirt and gray cardigan. Behind her is a room with bookshelves on one side and several plants.

Episode 3 - "Can machines learn how to behave?" (Part 3)

Emily and Alex finally finish their reading of "Can machines learn how to behave?" by Blaise Aguera y Arcas.

Live stream, Podcast, Transcript

Screencap of a Zoom meeting. On the left, very large, is a screenshared website, with a black and white photo of a white man wearing spectacles. Behind him is a chalkboard covered in equations, and on the desk in front of him are various technical-looking machine parts. Words in the article are cut off, but include phrases like "today's most powerful AI systems" and "they use virtual 'neurons'". On the right are two tiny thumbnails of the meeting participants: Emily Bender, a white woman with curlybrown hair, and Alex Hanna, an Arab woman wearing a blue head wrap.

Episode 2 - "Can machines learn how to behave?" (Part 2)

Emily and Alex continue their reading of "Can machines learn how to behave?" by Blaise Aguera y Arcas.

Live stream, Podcast, Transcript

Screenshot of a Zoom meeting. On the left is Emily Bender, a white woman with short-ish curly brown hair. She wears a purple and white top, and behind her is a white wall and some closed beige window blinds. On the right panel is Alex Hanna, an Arab woman with her hair in a peach-colored head wrap. She wears a white shirt and big hoop earrings. Behind her is a room with bookshelves on one side and several plants.

Episode 1 - "Can machines learn how to behave?" (Part 1)

Emily and Alex read through "Can machines learn how to behave?" by Blaise Aguera y Arcas, a Google VP for AI.

Live stream, Podcast, Transcript

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