This hour of Radiolab, Jad and Robert meet humans and robots who are trying to connect, and blur the line.
We begin with a love story--from a man who unwittingly fell in love with a chatbot on an online dating site. Then, we encounter a robot therapist whose inventor became so unnerved by its success that he pulled the plug. And we talk to the man who coded Cleverbot, a software program that learns from every new line of conversation it receives...and that's chatting with more than 3 million humans each month. Then, five intrepid kids help us test a hypothesis about a toy designed to push our buttons, and play on our human empathy. And we meet a robot built to be so sentient that its creators hope it will one day have a consciousness, and a life, all its own.
In 2006, Robert Epstein decided to turn to his computer for some help finding a date. He was single at the time, and it seemed like everyone was getting into online dating. So he started searching through photos and sending messages, reaching out to women who caught his interest.
In 1999, Freedom Baird was in grad school, and Furbies--those furry little robot toys that talk to you and tell you to play with them--were all the rage.
Can a machine have a life of its own? Last year, Jon Ronson got an assignment from GQ to interview robots.