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The Machines and Us

In conversation with robotics expert Prof Noel Sharkey, Mark Tully considers the implications of the human relationship with machines. Featuring a duet for piano and iPad.

Mark Tully considers our growing dependence upon technology and the practical implications of the human relationship with machines.

In conversation with AI expert Professor Noel Sharkey, who is Chairman of the International Committee for Robot Arms Control, he investigates both historical and contemporary dependencies on technology and the pleasures and perils of technological progress.

In a programme which takes us from the Industrial Revolution to a duet for piano and iPad, there are readings from Aldous Huxley, Bertrand Russell and Patricia Hubbell - and music from Conrad Tao, Arthur Honneger and Jim Noir.

The readers are Emily Raymond, Francis Cadder and Jasper Britton.

Produced by Frank Stirling
A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

30 minutes

Music Played

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  • Arthur Honegger

    Pacific 231

    Performer: DR SymfoniOrkestret.
    • Symphonie No. 5, Symphony No. 3, Pacific 231.
    • Chandos Records LTD.
  • Scientific Techniques and the Future by Bertrand Russell

    Bertrand Russell writes about the dangers of atomic power.

  • Conrad Tao

    Iridescence, for piano & iPad

    Performer: Conrad Tao.
    • Voyages.
    • EMI Classics / Warner Classics.
  • Music and Machinery by Aldous Huxley

    Will the gramophone put musicians out of work?

  • Richard Strauss

    Also Sprach Zarathustra

    Performer: Herbert von Karajan. Performer: The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.
    • 2001 : A Space Odyssey – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack.
    • EMI.
  • Roy Harris, Muckram Wakes, Roger Watson, Helen Wainwright & John Tams

    Poverty Knock

    • The Bitter and The Sweet.
    • Topic Records.
  • Cynddylan On A Tractor by R.S. Thomes

    A farmer enjoys his experience of new technology.

  • The Computer’s First Christmas Card by Edwin Morgan

    A festive card written, unaided, by a computer.

  • Jim Noir

    Computer Song

    • Tower of Love.
    • WEA.
  • Chant of the Awakening Bulldozers by Patricia Hubbell

    A warning from the ‘awakening’ machines of their power.

  • Leroy Anderson

    The Typewriter

    Performer: BBC Concert Orchestra.
    • Leroy Anderson: Orchestral Music, Vol. 3.
    • Naxos.