Cover art for podcast Distillations | Science History Institute

Distillations | Science History Institute

325 EpisodesProduced by Science History InstituteWebsite

Each episode of Distillations podcast takes a deep-dive into a moment of science-related history in order to shed light on the present.


Human-Centered Therapy . . . with Robots

Now that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs recognizes post-traumatic stress disorder as a significant issue among veterans, they’ve uncovered another problem—there aren’t enough therapists to go around. Virtual reality experts at the University of Southern California have a solution: robots. Reporter Anna Stitt explains how advocates see these “therapy bots” as enhancing the field of therapy; they don’t tire out, they don’t need a salary, and patients are often more honest with them than human therapists. The only problem? Some people are worried that these therapy bots will one day replace humans.

Fears of artificial intelligence aren’t new, but they do seem increasingly common. Elon Musk declared that creating artificial intelligence is akin to "summoning the demon.” And Hollywood has done a solid job of convincing us that we’re approaching an age of artificial superintelligence—when machines’ capabilities will greatly exceed those of humans. We turned to philosopher and University of California, Berkeley professor John Searle to get his take on how realistic these concerns are. He says he takes the threat just as seriously as if someone said “shoes have been walked on for centuries. Any day now, they might come out of the closet and walk all over us."

Show Clock

00:04 Intro 02:06 Human-Centered Therapy....with Robots 19:56 John Searle interview


Hosts: Michal Meyer and Bob Kenworthy Guest: John Searle Reporter: Anna Stitt Producer: Mariel Carr Associate Producer: Rigoberto Hernandez


Music courtesy of the Audio Network.

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