This week, educator and social scientist Dr. David A Banks returns to the show to discuss the human rights of artificial life and AI as seen in the Star Trek franchise. Back in the Original Series, Captain Kirk had a knack for talking computers to death, but as the Trek franchise has evolved so has its depictions of and its opinions about artificial intelligence. During our conversation, we discuss Trek’s humanoid chauvinism in the depiction of artificial life, the value of AI labor in a Marxian sense, the social sophistication required of cosmopolitan Federation citizens, the possibility of empathy being a finite resource in the future, whether the stagnation of the Federation is inevitable, and why Trek is so far behind in addressing the realities of computational intelligence. We also talk about the depiction of information security and data collection in Star Trek: Picard, how communism is the ultimate ad-blocker, trading our personal data for “fun treats”, taking shifts at the Peoples’ Data Co-Op, murder at the HOA meeting, being careful how you talk to nascent AI, whether Soong ever published anything, Kal brings up the Culture for the thousandth time, and Dave breaks the news that Watson is a boy, period.
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