Cybernews podcast #38: The Guardian’s star journalist joins to discuss AI dangers and his hunt for culprits


“Technology isn't independent of us, it becomes part of our experience, part of what it means to be human,” says Michael Safi.

This week, we had a special guest on the Cybernews podcast. Michael Safi, the host of Black Box and Today in Focus for the Guardian, joined us in the studio.

We sat down with Michael to discuss the new Black Box podcast, which explores the depth and breadth of artificial intelligence.

Michael and his team have investigated many facets of this new technology through a human-centric lens by exploring the impact of AI on regular people, just like you and I.

The Black Box podcast has explored various themes, such as the relationship between humans and AI, the commodification of technology, how this tech could be used to fight disease, and so much more.

After listening to the entire series, we had questions as we looked to delve deeper into some of the stories we had listened to.

So, we spoke to Michael about his experience creating the Black Box podcast, his experience with AI, and his feelings about this new technological beast.

The episodes of the Black Box podcast are wild and wonderful, demonstrating how AI permeates our regular lives as we know it. This technology is transformative, but with transformation comes challenges.

This episode is also on our YouTube channel, come check out our studio and have a watch of our first filmed podcast.

Episode 0 – The collision

In the very first episode of Black Box, we are confronted with the relationship between a woman who wishes to be known as Hannah and Noah. It’s a pretty conventional relationship until we understand what Noah is and why Hannah has formed such a bond with “him.”

This short and sweet episode hints at the growing bond we are sharing with technology, how reality and technology have collided to create something indistinguishable from one another, and how advanced these relationships can become.

Episode 1 – The connectionist

In this episode, we meet the Godfather of artificial intelligence, Geoffrey Hinton, and how his pursuit of understanding the human brain led him to create one of the most powerful technologies the world has ever seen. This advancement has been compared to the railroads, electricity, and the nuclear bomb.

This complex and rich episode maps the life of Geoffrey Hinton and how he helped pioneer the technology that was once seen as overhyped and is now being integrated into everything – artificial intelligence.

Episode 2 – The hunt for ClothOff

We decided to center our podcast episode around the second episode of Black Box because this was such a long investigation that took Michael and his team six months to execute, and we have reported a lot on deepfake pornography in the past.

Michael and his team took us on a journey to a small Spanish town, which was at the center of deepfake controversy. It all started when a few young boys downloaded the app ClothOff and used it as intended.

Along the way, Michael and his team encountered many twists and turns in the ClothOff narrative and believed they uncovered the partial truth about the app and who created it.

Episode 3 – Repocalypse now

This story is one of Eugenia Kuyda, who created Replika after the loss of a loved one. This AI companion app exploded in popularity and has been downloaded millions of times around the world.

However, when the creator started receiving backlash, something had to change, but when it did, those who used the app found that they had lost something invaluable, something they couldn’t afford to lose.

Episode 4 – Bing and I

Cancer is the worst. Having known multiple people who have been diagnosed with cancer, I can safely say that this experience is destabilizing, disorientating, and devastating. Often, those who have to support someone going through cancer don’t have the resources to be able to care for that person properly.

That’s what Lee Johnson discovered when the shocking news about his loved one was revealed. But technology is a gift and can help us rebuild our lives and seek the answers we seek.

The two stories featured within episode four demonstrate the good that artificial intelligence can do, whether you’re navigating a cancer diagnosis or building a tool to help catch the disease.

Episode 5 – The white mask

While episode four outlined the best of AI, episode five looks at how biases within training datasets can have dire consequences.

This story centers around Robert William, who was arrested for a crime he didn’t commit based on facial recognition software powered by AI.

This episode explores the various shades of gender and racial biases and how we shouldn’t hold AI to unrealistic standards. It's not an omnipotent, omnipresent technology – it’s fallible. Just like you and I.

Episode 6 – Shut it down?

The final episode of the series examines both sides of the AI coin. As we conclude the series, we encounter Eliezer Yudkowsky, who has warned about the dangers of AI for decades.

We also meet the Guardian’s own tech whizz, who tries to dispel some of the anxieties we listeners may have about the AI apocalypse.

The question remains: should we shut it down?

We at Cybernews loved the series, and we’re sure you will, too. So listen to Black Box on Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.


More from Cybernews:

Thousands of Airsoft players under threat after data breach

Android apps with 4B installs leave open doors to code execution attacks

OpenAI’s first Sora-generated music video released

Man sentenced for possession of deepfake abuse materials

LastPass attempts to open a new chapter by separating from its parent company

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