Thomas Hawk via flickr Creative Commons /

From hospitals to auto-plants, robotics has been embraced by many fields, making work environments safer and more efficient. On today’s show we look to the fast food industry and ask the question: would people eat burgers made by a robot?

And, he may be best known as a film actor, but John C. Reilly can add another role to his resume: folk singer. Later in the show we’ll talk to Reilly about his latest adventures in music.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

VGo/NHPR Staff

Football faces increasing criticism as mounting evidence shows the dangers of concussions, in particular undiagnosed concussions.

A new telehealth initiative at Dartmouth College aims to eliminate those undiagnosed concussions by bringing neurosurgeons to the sidelines--via robot.

On the sidelines of the Dartmouth/Penn football game, neurosurgeon Robert Singer watches carefully.

"A lot of these hits are shoulder hits. What we’re looking for are direct head to head kind of contact, that type of thing."

Robots And The Future Of Work

Oct 7, 2014
a_Inglis / Flickr/CC

As computers and robotic machinery grow more sophisticated, there are concerns that automation is making it harder for human workers to compete. But others say robotic workers will lead to better jobs, more productivity, and even an age of leisure for humans. We’ll hear from the experts on how the rise of the robot may change the face of the workforce.

This program was originally broadcast on 8/21/14.


In Stanley Kubrick’s film 2001 A Space Odyssey, fear of future technologies takes center stage in the form of Hal 9000, the sentient, yet sinister, computer in charge of spacecraft Discovery One.

On today’s show, an instructor at the MIT Media Lab envisions a brighter future, in which the interaction between humans and technology will be useful, and even playful.

Plus, we’ll take a closer look at prison gangs, their ability to maintain order behind bars and how they influence life on the outside.

Listen to the full show and Read more for individual segments.

Still Burning via flickr Creative Commons

California’s Pelican Bay state prison houses gang leaders high on the food chain. Contrary to popular myth, they run the joint like a well-oiled machine, with chains-of-command, communication networks, even a system for intake.

On today’s show: a glimpse into the surprisingly orderly life behind bars, and the influence of gangs on life on the outside.

Also today, an African-American woman says it’s time to reject the notion that beating kids is part of black culture.

Listen to the full show and Read more for individual segments.

Imagine a four-wheeled robot, rolling slowly over frozen landscapes, equipped with high-tech sensors, and funded by NASA . You’re imagining a robot named Yeti, a polar rover designed by a team of Dartmouth Engineering students.  Yeti has ground penetrating radar, and helps scientists in Antarctica and Greenland detect and map dangerous and possibly deadly crevasses before manned expeditions.  Laura Ray is professor of engineering at Dartmouth College and Yeti project leader; she joined us earlier to discuss the new technology.

Logan Shannon

An agricultural art dating from the Neolithic period shares a glass with the robotics of the future. Since the first evidence of grapevine cultivation for wine about 7000 years ago, viticulture has developed a degree of automation…still, wine-makers depend on human hands and eyes to thoroughly -- and tediously -- inspect their crop for quality and yield. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University are developing an automated grape-counting system that will help lighten that load and lead to the production of better wine. Sara Reardon is a staff writer and reporter for New Scientist who covered the machines that could change the future of winemaking.

Leo Reynolds via flickr Creative Commons

“Taking a new step, uttering a new word, is what people fear most.”

-Fyodor Dostoyevsky  from Crime and Punishment

In this fearless edition of Word of Mouth, we take new steps and utter new words about crime, punishment and everything in between.

Pebble Kickstarter

Every year, the MIT technology review publishes a list of ten breakthrough technologies. From health care to environmental sustainability to consumer electronics, the list covers at it all. Here to discuss this year’s picks, just released yesterday, is Brian Bergstein, deputy editor of the MIT Technology Review.

Fort Bellvoir Community Hospital via flickr Creative Commons

Pharmaceutical companies have long gotten a bad rap for trying to influence medical decisions for a profit – but the issue isn’t exclusive to drugs. New York Times reporter Roni Caryn Rabin recently wrote about aggressive tactics used to market the Da Vinci Surgical System – a robotic assistant now operating in over 1300 hospitals across the United States.

Knee And Hip Replacement Goes Robotic

Apr 4, 2013
Todd Bookman / NHPR

It’s been two weeks since Bonnie Parker had her hip replaced.

She is 50, petite, a tattoo artist. So she’s no stranger to pain, but says the past few years have been really tough.

“I watched my mother suffer from arthritis, and she sat down one day and never got back up. And I found myself sitting down more and more and not getting up, and I thought, ‘No, I can’t do this.’"

After non-surgical solutions failed to help, Parker spoke with her doctor, and decided to try a new robot-assisted procedure: something called MAKOplasty.

Leo Reynolds via Flickr Creative Commons

Our favorite content from the program, delivered in one sound-errific package.

This week, why robot interrogators might beat humans at getting to the truth. Mass shooter Amy Bishop's first victim...her brother, back in 1986. Why jury duty matters. The diverse cast of a New Hampshire production of "To Kill A Mockingbird." And the active social media lives of long-dead celebrities.

roboticage via flickr Creative Commons

They may not be able to dream or feel emotion, but a recent study suggests that robots do a better job of getting accurate witness statements than their human counterparts.  Cindy Bethel, is an assistant professor at Mississippi State University that specializes in human-robot interaction and the lead author of a study recently covered by The New Scientist. Also joining us is Deborah Eakin, the psychologist on the project.

PhOtOnQuAnTiQuE via FLickr Creative Commons

This past fall we spoke with Robert Ito about the growing phenomenon of human-robot bonding. His article "The Love Bot" was featured in Pacific Standard Magazine. From C-3PO to WALL-E, the loveable robot has long inhabited popular imagination. Robots like the Japanese made "Paro," pillow pets, and vacuum cleaning Roombas are engineered to be social.

Chris in Plymouth via Flickr Creative Commons

Our awesome-est content from a week of awesome programs. This week, robots get FDA approval to treat patients on the fly, a nurse becomes a patient to teach students how to care for the dying, we look back at the Piltdown Man hoax, and the 90's band Guster goes acoustic.

Last week, the FDA approved the first self-navigating communications robot for use in hospitals. The RP-Vita which stands for remote presence virtual independent telemedicine assistant – was created by iRobot and In-Touch. The FDA sanction for the self-guided robot could mark a new era of robotic care in hospitals here in the United States.  Joining us with more on how RP-Vita works is Marcio Macedo, Director of Product Management for iRobot’s remote presence business unit.

tiny cc via Flickr

Word of Mouth's weekend program includes some of our favorite stories from from the daily program.

Part 1: Syria/Chemical Dangers

When we first saw Robert Ito's Pacific Standard piece on folks who've fallen in love with their robots, we were all....huh? So of course, we booked him on the show. You can listen to that interview here:

But all that talk about human-robot love got us thinking...if a robot is the love of your life, how do you show it? Here are some ideas we dug up:

1) Buy him a snazzy costume!

PhOtOnQuAnTiQuE via FLickr Creative Commons

From C-3PO to WALL-E, the loveable robot has long inhabited popular imagination. Today we examine the increasing melding of fantasy and reality…the social robot has begun to win the hearts and minds of people all around the world.

pluckytree via Flickr Creative Commons

While the world’s top athletes compete at the  London 2012 Olympics, hundreds of photographers are contending to capture the game’s defining moments on camera.  To maximize its odds of snapping a winning pic, Reuters is getting some help, from robots.  The new shutter-bots will be stationed at Table Tennis, Boxing, Taekwondo, Judo, Fencing, Weight Lifting, and at the main Olympic Park for some of the big events.  Word of Mouth Producer Taylor Quimby caught up with Patrick Cain, a freelance reporter for th

Photo Credit Colinaut, Via Flickr Creative Commons

Here's What's Awesome...

EHarmony and LinkedIn passwords hacked

Facebook's attempt at democracy...

Photo Credit Mag3737, via Flickr Creative Commons

Part 1: Trophy Wives/Old Lady Style

In those gin-soaked days of yesteryear, a beautiful woman on the arm was an executive’s secret weapon for landing the deal.  A young knock-out by your side signaled power, style, and proof that you had it all. Just ask all those Mad Men...That was then.


May 21, 2012

Among this summer’s anticipated films is Prometheus, Ridley Scott’s prequel to his groundbreaking sci-fi flick, Alien. The plot centers on a crew of inter-galactic explorers – among the cast of characters is a humanoid robot, or android, who sounds decidedly more ominous than say, the Jetson’s old-model household cleaner, Rosey.

M.I.T.'s Media Lab is a melting pot of engineers, artists, and scientists looking for ways to integrate technology into our everyday lives. The lab has produced the tech behind myriad high-tech gadgest, programming languages for children, and even laid the groundwork for popular video games and Lego robots.

(Photo by Moonlightbulb via Flickr Creative Commons)

Was 2012 the lamest year ever for April fools on the web?

This pretty lame and implausible prank indicates that maybe it was...

But I did like Google's prank of Street View kangaroos, and, of course, the totally awesome idea of putting Google maps on 8-bit NES cartridges.