Episode #534

Robots, Fembots, Ribbons

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Saturday, August 21, 2004

Kurt Andersen and scientist Rodney Brooks look at the culture of robots. We visit thousands of robot toys in a big red barn outside Spokane. Sexpert Susie Bright surveys female robots on film, from Stepford Wives to the deadly Fembots. And a jazz pioneer gives over some control to his virtual Frankenstein.

Guests:

Rodney Brooks

Commentary: The Grotesque

An art exhibit in Santa Fe showcases art that is, well — ugly. Disparities and Deformations: Our Grotesque makes Kurt wonder where the fascination with the strange comes from. 

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Design for the Real World: Ribbon Bookmark

Architectural writer Sara Moss celebrates the simple and fabulous ribbon bookmark.

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Special Guest: Rodney Brooks

Rodney Brooks is a scientist, professor, and director of the MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab. He is the inventor of many robots, including the Roomba, the intelligent vacuum cleaner. His latest book is Flesh and Machines.

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Robot Hut

The toy collector John Rigg began wiring circuits in kindergarten. He was still little when he gave his mom a cardboard robot he built with motors, electric lights, and a little candy-filled drawer. Today, John Rigg displays thousands of “metal men” in a big barn near Spokane, Washington. ...

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The Fembot Factor

Most of the robots you know from the movies are male. There’s Robbie the Robot, C-3PO, Data the sensitive android on Star Trek, and the violent cyborgs of Terminator and Robocop. But what about the female robots? Writer Susie Bright has some thoughts on the ways ...

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Voyager

The Voyager computer program is a powerful robot. It composes music — improvised, unpredictable music — using a virtual 64-piece orchestra. The Voyager’s inventor, George Lewis, improvises with his robotic partner, and creates music that we’d like to think only humans could make. Produced by Ted Panken.

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