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Physical Attraction

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We are a physics podcast. But not just a physics podcast - interviews with scientists, scholars, authors and reflections on the history and future of science and technology are all in the wheelhouse.

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We had a sister podcast, Autocracy Now, which deals with the lives of famous historical dictators. You can find some of their episodes on our feed, or the show itself at 

Apr 5, 2019

Taking a break from our nuclear fusion odyssey this week, I have a very special episode for you today. This week, our guest is Dr Kate Devlin. She’s a senior lecturer in computer science who studies artificial intelligence and human-robot interaction, and she wrote a magnificent book: Turned On, Science, Sex and Robots. Now, the tagline is that the book is about love and sex with robots – and there is a great deal of fascinating stuff in there about that – but it’s also a wonderful history of humanoid robotics, in reality and in fiction, and a great survey of the academic research into human-robot interactions in general. As artificial intelligence and chatbots become more omnipresent, and also take on a bigger role in our culture, whole new fields of psychology and sociology open up. We’ve already talked a little about chatbots in past episodes, and Dr Devlin’s book was one of the best and most entertaining works that I’ve read about artificial intelligence and robots in a long time, so I was super excited to get this interview.

Thanks for listening to this episode of Physical Attraction, and many thanks to our guest, Dr Kate Devlin. You can find her book – Turned On, Science, Sex and Robots – where-ever good books are sold, but I also highly recommend the audiobook… if, like me, you’re getting those monthly Audible credits, it’s wonderfully narrated by the author. You can also find out more about her work at , and if you Google around, there are some Ted Talks and things of that variety to keep you entertained.

And now for our housekeeping. A reminder that I’m still planning this 100th episode competition, but the due date is being continually extended – send your answers to the question “What Is Physics?” in text or audio format via the contact form on our website, and you’ll be in with a chance to win books from some of our previous interview guests and a place on the show.

The nuclear fusion series will be resuming shortly, and I can’t wait to share it all with you, but I’m also not averse to puncturing it with a few off-topic breaks now and then as a palate-cleanser. But if you have any comments, questions, or concerns about the show, you can contact us via the contact form at, and you can find me on Twitter @physicspod. If you want to support the show, we have a Patreon account, at – and I’ve actually just put up some “b-sides”, there, shows that I recorded but didn’t release for one reason or another, that subscribers can now enjoy listening to – alongside all the bonus episodes on Alien Attacks, Free Energy Scams, and failed end-of-the-world-predictions. Of course, if you don’t want to donate, the best thing you can do to support us is always always to tell as many people about the show as you possibly can.

Until next time, then, take care!