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Artificial Soul

John McCarthy finds out how advances in artificial intelligence are teaching us more about what it is to be human and asks if our spirit could ever be written in computer code.

As robots become more human-like, John McCarthy asks whether there is any aspect of humanity that could never be programmed into a machine.

Experts from the informatics department of King's College, London, reflect on the possibility of developing artificial emotions, morality and creativity. Will there come a time when it will be impossible to tell a machine from its maker?

The programme includes extracts from the first work of fiction about robots, by the Czech playwright Karel Capek, as well as more recent imaginings by Isaac Asimov.

William James, Andrew Marvell and Richard Dawkins muse on the nature of self, soul and culture.

We hear computer-generated music, as well as compositions by Stockhausen, Wasifuddin Dagar and Regina Spektor.

Readers: Michael Colgan and Sarah Lawrie.

Producer: Jo Fidgen.
A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.

30 minutes

Last on

Sun 10 Nov 2013 23:30

Music Played

Add music you love and enjoy it with My Tracks
  • Karlheinz Stockhausen

    Kontakte Part 1

    Performers: David Tudor; Christoph Caskel; Karlheinz Stockhausen; Gottfried Michael Koenig

    • Kontakte.
    • Wergo.
    • 286009-2.
    • 1.
  • Maurice Ravel


    • The Classic Experience (1988).
    • EMI.
    • EMTVD 45.
    • 3.
  • Richard Strauss

    Also Sprach Zarathustra

    • Star Wars and Other Galactic Themes.
    • EMI.
    • GBAYE7200192.
  • Karl Bartos

    The Robots (Edited Version)

    Perfomer: Kraftwerk

    • The Man-Machine.
    • EMI.
  • Alphard

    Performer: London Symphony Orchestra, Melomics Ensemble

    • Iamus.
    • Melomics Records.
    • B00AW079XY.
  • Jor / Jhalla

    • Raga Chandrakauns, Dhrupad.
    • Sense World Music.
    • GVL LC 13611.
  • Regina Spektor


    Performer: Regina Spektor

    • Far.
    • Sire.
    • USWB10901897.
    • 5.