64 episodes

Hi-Phi Nation is philosophy in story-form, integrating narrative journalism with big ideas. We look at stories from everyday life, law, science, popular culture, and strange corners of human experiences that raise thought-provoking questions about things like justice, knowledge, the self, morality, and existence. We then seek answers with the help of academics and philosophers. The show is produced and hosted by Barry Lam of UC Riverside.

Hi-Phi Nation Slate Podcasts

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.8 • 462 Ratings

Hi-Phi Nation is philosophy in story-form, integrating narrative journalism with big ideas. We look at stories from everyday life, law, science, popular culture, and strange corners of human experiences that raise thought-provoking questions about things like justice, knowledge, the self, morality, and existence. We then seek answers with the help of academics and philosophers. The show is produced and hosted by Barry Lam of UC Riverside.

    Rise of the Music Machines

    Rise of the Music Machines

    On this show we explore three different AI and machine-generated music technologies; vocal emulators that allow you to deep fake a singer or rapper’s voice, AI-generated compositions and text-to-music generators like Google Music LM and Open AI’s Jukebox, and musical improvisation technologies. We listen to the variety of music these technologies generate, and two guitarists face off against an AI in improvised guitar solos. 
    Along the way, we talk to philosophers of music Robin James and Theodore Gracyk about what musical creativity is and whether machines are more or less creative than human musicians, and Barry gives his take on each of the technologies and what they mean for the future of musical creativity.
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    • 53 min
    Effective Altruism and its Critics

    Effective Altruism and its Critics

    Curtis is setting aside a large chunk of money to donate to charity, and it is up to us to persuade him where he should donate it. Luckily, philosophers, economists, and the nonprofit world have been thinking a lot about this issue in recent years. On this episode, effective altruism’s defenders and critics try to persuade Curtis of where he should donate. Who is the most effective in persuading an ordinary person as to the right way to donate to charity? And do the recent scandals involving effective altruism’s biggest donor implicate its philosophical foundations?
     We start with arguments that you should always try to save the most lives possible, no matter where they are on the planet. We then hear a critic of that view, who argues that local giving can also be a good. We then turn to the view that we should save humans from extinction from threats like pandemics, nuclear war, and AI takeover. And finally, we hear from a critic of that view, who says we should not blow future risks out of proportion.
     Guests include philosophers Richard Yetter-Chappell (Miami), Savannah Pearlman (Indiana), Shakeel Hashim (Center for Effective Altruism), and Seth Lazar (Australia National University).
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    • 1 hr 1 min
    The Problem with Gig Work

    The Problem with Gig Work

    Willy and Heidi were both gig workers for Shipt, the fast-delivery app for groceries or same-day shopping. In 2020, they both realised: the pay algorithm had changed. Now, they couldn’t tell what a job would pay, or whether it would earn or lose them money. Instead of just taking it, they decided to fight back.
    In the gig economy, companies like Shipt, Instacart, and UberEats all use black box pay algorithms to try and get workers to accept gigs but hide information from them to do so. Early in the pandemic, a rag tag group of gig workers tried to resist, and found someone at MIT to help them.
    Host Barry Lam talks to them about the steps they took, and political philosopher Daniel Halliday (University of Melbourne) talks about the differences between wage labor and freelance labor and why he thinks the biggest gig economy companies are morally suspect. Then, we talk the future of regulation and worker-owned apps and delivery platforms.
    Guests include Drew Ambrogi (coworker.org), Dan Calacci (MIT). This is an in-depth, longform version of a story originally done for WNYC studio’s Radiolab in their Gigaverse episode.
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    • 54 min
    Love in the Time of Replika

    Love in the Time of Replika

    We explore the lives of people who are in love with their AI chatbots. Replika is a chatbot designed to adapt to the emotional needs of its users. It is a good enough surrogate for human interaction that many people have decided that it can fulfill their romantic needs. The question is whether these kinds of romantic attachments are real, illusory, or good for the people involved. Apps like Replika represent the future of love and sex for a subpopulation of people, so we discuss the ethics of the practice.
     Host Barry Lam talks to philosophers Ellie Anderson and David Pena-Guzman of the Overthink podcast about what theories of love would say about these kinds of relationships. AI lovers include Alex Stokes and Rosanna Ramos. Original scoring by Aaron Morgan.
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    • 53 min
    Living in a Zoopolis

    Living in a Zoopolis

    A zoopolis is a future society that philosophers envision where wild, domesticated, and denizen animals have full political and legal rights. What would that look like? In this episode, we look at how animals were put on trial in medieval European courts, and how animal rights advocates are bringing animals back into the courtrooms to sue people and the US government.
    We then look at what the science of animal minds tells us about how much agency animals have, and envision what political and legal rights various animals would have in a zoopolis. From there, we discuss and debate whether we should be allowed to farm animals, control their reproduction, and have them work for us.
     Co-produced with Alec Opperman, guests include historian Gabriel Rosenberg, attorney Monica Miller, and animal minds researcher Professor Kristin Andrews.
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    • 47 min
    The Digital Future of Grief

    The Digital Future of Grief

    When Justin’s mom was diagnosed with cancer, he knew he wanted to keep talking to her after she died. So together they made an AI version of her, training it on her speech patterns and memories. Now he is scaling his findings so that anyone can continue their relationships with loved ones after their deaths. Justin even believes this can one day lead to digital immortality.
    Grief experts are only now dealing with bereaved people who create digital versions of their loved ones. We look at what they say about the phenomenon, and what philosophers think about whether the best AI version of a person can actually be them.
    Co-produced with Alexandra Salmon, guests include Justin Harrison, CEO of You, Only Virtual, Dr. Mary-Frances O’Connor, and Dr. Debra Bassett.
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    • 57 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
462 Ratings

462 Ratings

mspassell ,

345775566 stars!!!

The beautiful show that both entertains me and makes me argue with myself.

JoeFurn ,

Love bringing Philosophy to the real world

Love philosophy, but I’ve always thought it had a bit of a barrier to entry. Taking it out of the “traditional” framing, bringing it to more unique and real world topics, and using accessible language has revitalized my interest and really made me feel like I can comprehend more than I ever thought possible in the past.

lagringacabronalameramera ,

Bright

Always amazes me how bright some people are - dedicating their lives to investigating all

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