Paul Bennun explores the latest advances that allow computers to understand and increasingly imitate us. Paul examines our relationship with machines and asks how it is re-defining what it means to be human. If computers can simulate our expressions and emotions in order to better teach us about ourselves, what does that imply about our status in the world? Meeting computer scientists, sociologists, technology writers, and a man who chose to give up his technology, Paul finds out whether computers are changing the way we think, the way we interact with each other, and even dictating the way the world will look. He discovers the enormous potential of affective computing; GPS that can read our emotions and take control of our cars, and computer companions that will accompany us through old age, perhaps replacing a traditionally human role. Paul will also question his own strong relationship with the devices in his life. Technology and humanity have a symbiotic relationship but some are concerned that the lines between user and interface are becomming ever more blurred: "I think that we're at the moment of opportunity to sense that something has gone amiss and it's time to become wiser in our use of these technologies" (Sherry Turkle, sociologist). In Machines Like Us we look at the areas where technology is understanding and communicating with us better than ever before, and will ask if our dependence on such technology is fundamentally reducing what it means to be human. "We are co-dependent, we are cyborgian already. Every species cannot live without some technology around it and so we're going to continue in that same process of changing ourselves to become ever more dependent on the technology that surrounds us" (Kevin Kelly, co-founder of WIred).
In the programme we will hear from:
Kevin Warwick, Peter Robinson, Sherry Turkle, Eric Brende, Nicholas Carr, Yorick Wilks, Jonathan Sawday, Norihiro Hagita, Kevin Kelly.
Producer: Gemma Newby.