Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Physical Attraction


New? Head to the episode guide or drop us a line with the contact form.

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.

You can read about us here, which includes an episode guide for new listeners, contact us here and if you like what we do and want to help us keep doing it, you can donate here. You can subscribe to the Physical Attraction: Extra! Feed over at Patreon: www.patreon.com/PhysicalAttraction - where for $2 per bonus episode, you can help to support the show, and get some juicy bonus content too.

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 www.autocracynow.libsyn.com 

Sep 3, 2020

I’m very excited today to talk to Dr Robert Elliot Smith, who – after a thirty-year career working in AI and working with algorithms - has written one of the best books I’ve ever read about artificial intelligence and the impact of algorithms on society – Rage Inside the Machine. More than this, though, it’s really about… the dangers that can arise from trying to boil down complex aspects of what it means to be human, or what is valuable and important, to numbers and metrics which can be processed by these machines. Which I think is a much more fundamental issue, and lies at the heart of a great deal of systemic injustice and misunderstanding, even before the age of algorithms came along to turbo-charge all of these problems.

We had a wonderful, wide-ranging interview and Dr Smith was very patient and willing to deal with my pretty scattershot questions attempting to cover a lot of what is in his book. I hope you enjoy listening as much as I enjoyed our conversation.


Thank you for listening to this episode of Physical Attraction, and thanks again for Dr Smith for coming on the show. His book, Rage Inside The Machine, is one of the most brilliant texts you’ll read on AI – a glorious mix between technical detail explained in a way that’s not too oversimplified, personal stories profound insight into this interface between computers and algorithms and what it means to be human. It’s genuinely great, we just scratched the surface here really, and I know I’ll end up reading it multiple times for the full detail of what’s being said… and just because it’s also one of those books where you feel your brain expanding when you read it. In a good way. Do get a copy.

You can find that at Rage Inside The Machine.com where you will also find Rob’s blog and some of his other appearances on podcasts if you are interested. He’s also an occasional Tweeter at Dr RE Smith, so go check it out.

As for us, you know what to do! The website is physicspodcast.com, there’s a contact form there where you can get in touch with any comments, questions, concerns, things you liked, and didn’t like, and so forth. You can donate to the show via PayPal, or subscribe to our Patreon, where there are currently over a dozen bonus and early-release episodes for you to enjoy. You won’t be charged on the Patreon until a new paid bonus episode is released – and even then the pledge can be as low as a dollar or two I think – so if you want to support people who create the independent content you enjoy, that’s a good way to do it.