Is artificial intelligence going to murder you? (Portal)

Probably not. But they might steal your job. That’s what I’ve surmised after speaking with our guests for this episode. The game we’re talking about is classic first-person puzzler Portal, in which a crazed A.I called GLaDOS puts you through increasingly dangerous tests. To find out if the robo-apocalypse is even a remote possibility, I spoke to A.I. researcher and builder of artificial intelligences Michael Cook. His coded creatures are mostly harmless, unlike the A.I of popular media who always speak with a vaguely threatening air. But why do they talk like that? Enter stage left, special guest number two: it’s actor Sarah Elmaleh! Sarah has done the voice of a few A.I characters in games like Halo Infinite and Exapunks. She tells us exactly what it is that makes a voice sound authentically robotic. Because if bots can pretend to be people, why not the other way around?

Support Hey Lesson on Patreon!

Or put a one-off tip in our tip jar

Click “more” for links and notes.

Continue reading “Is artificial intelligence going to murder you? (Portal)”

How does gravity work on a ring world? (Halo Infinite)

Hope you’re not prone to dizziness. Halo Infinite is set on a giant ring in space and we wanted to know: how does gravity work on something like that? So we spoke to Scott Manley, astronomer and celebrated YouTube rocket man, about how the centrifugal force of spinning would keep Master Chief’s boots planted on the ground, and how the human body can adapt to such weirdness. Also joining us is Natalie Clayton of PC Gamer, who has been gung-ho-ing through the shooter’s campaign as well as its multiplayer. Is Halo good again? Well, she says, it’s complicated.

Support Hey Lesson on Patreon!

Or put a one-off tip in our tip jar

Click “more” for a full list of links.

Continue reading “How does gravity work on a ring world? (Halo Infinite)”

Is time an illusion? (Deathloop)

Physics says no, time is real. But that doesn’t mean strange things can’t happen to the human brain when it tries to understand the passage of time. We speak to philosopher of time Professor Craig Callender about the nature of the universe’s big ticking clock, why physicists disagree about it, and how you can categorise time travel stories as “consistent” or “inconsistent”. Deathloop is… well, it’s surprisingly simple next to Einstein’s theories. We’ve got games journalist Nic Reuben to talk about the game and what makes its Groundhog Day styled time loop (not to mention its shooting) so compelling.

Support Hey Lesson on Patreon!

Or put a one-off tip in our tip jar

Click “more” for a full list of links.

Continue reading “Is time an illusion? (Deathloop)”

What would alien life look like? (Mass Effect)

Look outside at earth’s life. Trees, birds, flowers, buses. Truly, it is a bounty of the universe. But could other planets host life? And if so, what would it look like? I don’t know, I’m just a podcast man. But one person who might know is Laura Rodriguez, astrobiologist at NASA. This episode we talk to her about the possibility of organic matter on other worlds, and how far it’ll probably be from the alien spacefriends of the Mass Effect trilogy. Also joining us to talk about said spacefriends is Imogen Beckhelling, noted Krogan liker and lore knower of the Mass Effect galaxy. So much knowledge this month! Come on in.

Support Hey Lesson on Patreon!

Or put a one-off tip in our tip jar

Click “more” for a full list of links and transcription.

Continue reading “What would alien life look like? (Mass Effect)”

How do mediums speak to the dead? (The Medium)

Spoiler: they don’t. Unless they are the tortured protagonist of The Medium, a new horror game from the makers of Layers of Fear. She talks to the dead all the time, shifting between our world and a decaying spirit realm as she is pursued by a malevolent presence with a gurgling voice. Do “real” mediums have such problems with spirits? And how do television mediums and psychic performers correctly intuit so much about their audience members? We spoke to expert fact-checker Susan Gerbic to discover the psychological tricks mediums use to fool their audience, and how she goes about performing a “sting” on a phony psychic.

With guest co-host Edwin Evans-Thirlwell.

Support Hey Lesson on Patreon!

Click “read more” for a full list of links and transcription.

Continue reading “How do mediums speak to the dead? (The Medium)”

Why do we crave ‘likes’? (Death Stranding)

With guest host Matthew Castle!

In post-apocalyptic hiking simulator Death Stranding, there is a weird holographic internet floating around in the air. See a nice bridge? Hit that ‘like’ button. You can even make a helpful structure other players will ‘like’ in return – a watchtower, a shelter, a strange mushroom. But why do we crave ‘likes’ in the first place? In this episode, we speak to neuroscientist Dr Ofir Turel about what happens to our brains when we spend a lot of time on Twitter, Facebook, and maybe even the weird world of Death Stranding.

Links and episode transcription below…

Continue reading “Why do we crave ‘likes’? (Death Stranding)”

What happens when humanity disappears? (The Last of Us Part 2)

With guest host Paula Deming!

The world has collapsed in grim action game The Last of Us Part 2. Humanity is barely getting by, whereas all the plants and animals we previously pushed to the brink of extinction have rebounded, reclaiming the planet as their own. But is this how Earth would really look without the pressures of humankind? We ask environmental writer Alan Weisman, author of The World Without Us, what happens to our cities, our art, and our pets when we kick the collective bucket.

Links and episode transcription below.

Continue reading “What happens when humanity disappears? (The Last of Us Part 2)”