Westworld, Best Science Innovations, & Words on the Move

Nov 18, 2016

In HBO's new series Westworld, a futuristic amusement park is populated with androids who look and sound convincingly human. So in the age of 3D printed organs and advanced artificial intelligence, how close are we to making realistic robots? Today, we compare science fact with science fiction.

Then, whether it's the overuse of like, saying "nuculear", or using the word "literally", figuratively, misuse of language has a way of getting under our skin. A linguist assures us that language is always changing...so loosen up. Today, why dictionaries and grammar sticklers can't stop improper language.

Listen to the full show. 

How Far Are We From Westworld?

HBO's new series Westworld is based on a 1973 movie written and directed by novelist Michael Crichton. In both versions, the premise is a futuristic western-themed adult amusement park populated with android hosts designed to offer wealthy guests a way to indulge in sexual and violent fantasies. But there is - no surprise - trouble brewing in paradise.

The slick design and visuals of the show are getting high praise from audiences and critics alike and begs the question: in the age of 3D printing and  advanced artificial intelligence, are the cutting-edge host robots from Westworld just around the bend?

Lux Alptraum is a writer, consultant, and sex educator and she looked into that very question in a recent piece for Motherboard.

Pop Sci's Gadget Picks

Imagine a hammer that looks like a hammer, works like a hammer, but weighs a lot less. Or a battery that can change voltage depending on which power tool you're using. Or an air purifier that doesn't just collect airborne particles, but destroys them. Those are just a few of the top ten household innovations of 2016 according to Popular Science - they've gathered the year's "Best of What's New" for the 29th year and we're getting the details on some of the must-have gadgets straight from the source.

Kevin Gray  is Executive Editor for Popular Science.

Related: The Best of What's New  

Poster School

In  August of last year, protesters took to the streets of Ferguson after Michael Brown was shot and killed. Later that same year, protests over Brown's death were also taking place in an unlikely place – a school in Maine.  This piece was produced by Lila Cherneff in 2015.

You can listen to this full story again at PRX.org.

Words on the Move

What happens when you hear someone say "like,” like four times per sentence? How about "I literally just said that!" Does it give you a little shiver of judginess? John McWhorter teaches English and Comparative Lit at Columbia and has written several books on language...his most recent is Words on the Move: Why English Won't - and Can't - Sit Still. He writes that language is ever in flux, and that’s a good thing.