New horizons: Spy balloon mania, A-I chatbots and friendly robots
Welcome to a science and tech edition of Midday, with guest host Ashley Sterner sitting in once again for Tom Hall.
Earlier this month, four unidentified flying objects were spotted moving across U.S. airspace. The first object was eventually identified as a surveillance balloon deployed by the Chinese government, and was shot down once it had floated over the Atlantic coast. The other three objects are believed to have been launched by private companies conducting research or recreational activities. In a press conference yesterday, President Biden clarified why we are seeing more aerial phenomena and how he plans to address the matter.
If you thought spy balloons were new and unusual, think again. These high-altitude tools have been in use since the 1950’s and are now in use by governments and private companies for surveillance and a multitude of other reasons. Will the new radar tracking of U.S. airspace lead to findings of more aerial objects and phenomena?
Joining Ashley is John Herrman, a staff writer for New York Magazine, and the author of a recent piece for the mag called“Spy Balloons Are a Growth Industry.”
John Herrman joins us today on Zoom from Brooklyn, New York.
Artificial Intelligence, or "AI" is all around us, affecting our daily lives through iterations like Siri, Alexa and Roomba. But an emerging field called generative AI made a major splash recently with the release of Chat GPT, a computer program or chatbot that uses AI to respond to questions and compile information as a human would.
Here to discuss the promise — and potential perils —of generative AI is Tinglong Dai, Professor of Operations Management at Johns Hopkins University’s Carey Business School.
Professor Tinglong Dai joins Ashley on Zoom.
In our final segment today, Ashley turns to the subject of human-robot interaction. Different types of robots have become familar features in our lives, such as Roombas, self-driving cars or robotic children's dolls. But will robots ever evolve to become friends that will laugh, hug and cry with us?
Joining Ashley to discuss this is Kathryn Hulick, a science writer who wrote an article for Science News Explores called “Can A Robot Ever Become Your Friend?” She’s also the author of numerous educational books for children. Her most recent book about science and technology is called “Welcome to the Future: Robot Friends, Fusion Energy, Pet Dinosaurs and More.”
Kathryn Hulick joins us on Zoom from Hopkinton, Massachusetts.