Episode 56

Sentient AI, Self-Driving Safety, Rural WiFi, Location Data, Twitter =/= Society

Ravi, Cory, and Rikki start with the ethical concerns around Google’s possibly sentient AI chatbot LaMDA before turning to how humanity could interact with artificial intelligence in the future. Then the hosts turn to Senator Warren’s legislation on location data, self-driving car safety concerns, new data from Pew on which demographic dominates political Twitter, and whether internet access is a public utility in today’s digital age.  


Rikki, Cory, and Ravi go through the reasons to believe or doubt LaMDA’s sentience and discuss whether that’s even a decisive factor in how we should think about it. Cory notes the ethical concerns around artificial intelligence in general as Ravi predicts how it will affect human society in the distant future.

Ravi explains Senator Warren’s proposed legislation to limit the sale of location data. Cory argues this bill provides necessary protections to consumers as Rikki advocates for another solution. 

The hosts then turn to self-driving cars, the technology’s current safety standards, and how far they still need to go in order to truly revolutionize the way people get around. 

The hosts discuss the older demographic dominating the political conversation on Twitter and reflect on how that new data from Pew tracks with their anecdotal observations of the platform.

Ravi and Rikki agree in their criticism of the federal government’s costly failures to bring dependable WiFi to rural America, as the hosts discuss whether internet access is a public utility akin to basic necessities like water and electricity.

Google/Sentient AI [1:45]

Is LaMDA Sentient? (Blake Lemoine, 03/28-20)
Google suspends engineer who claims its AI is sentient (The Verge, 06/13)
Does this AI know it’s alive? (Vox, 06/15)
Will Machines Ever Become Conscious? (12/01/2019)
Stephen Hawking: ‘AI could spell end of the human race’ (YouTube, 12/02/2014)

Health Data Harvesting [12:20]

Democrats target location data sales (The Hill, 06/15)
The Inevitable Weaponization of App Data Is Here (Vice, 06/21/2021)
Privacy for Sale? The Third-Party Doctrine in the Digital Age (03/12/2021)
Missouri reviewed data about Planned Parenthood’s patients, including their periods, to identify failed abortions (The Washington Post, 10/30/2019)

Self-Driving Cars [17:42]

How Safe Are Systems Like Tesla’s Autopilot? No One Knows. (The New York Times, 06/08)
Teslas running Autopilot involved in 273 crashes reported since last year (The Washington Post, 06/15)
Big Bets and Broken Promises: A Timeline of Tesla’s Self-Driving Aspirations (Consumer Reports, 11/11/2021)
Self-driving cars: The 21st-century trolley problem (Vox, 10/06/2021)
Waymo finally launches an actual public, driverless taxi service (ArsTechnica, 10/08/2020)
Elon Musk Code Conference 2021 interview with Kara Swisher (YouTube, 09/29/2021)

Twitter =/= Society [27:30]

Politics on Twitter: One-Third of Tweets From U.S. Adults Are Political (Pew Research Center, 06/16)
10 facts about Americans and Twitter (Pew Research Center, 05/05)
National Politics on Twitter: Small Share of U.S. Adults Produce Majority of Tweets (Pew Research Center, 10/23/2019)
Social Media Use in 2021 (Pew Research Center, 04/07/2021)

Rural WiFi Access [31:19]

Why Rural Americans Keep Waiting for Fast Internet, Despite Billions Spent (The Wall Street Journal, 06/15)
Broadband Internet Promises Are Left Unfulfilled in Many Rural Areas (The Wall Street Journal, 10/22/20)
Some digital divides persist between rural, urban and suburban America (Pew Research Center, 08/19/21)
2020 Broadband Deployment Report (Federal Communications Commission, 06/08/2020)