28 min

Inside Sentience BBC Inside Science

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Marnie Chesterton and guests mull over the saga of an AI engineer who believes his chatbot is sentient. Also, climate scientists propose a major leap in earth system modelling, that might cost £250m a year but would bring our predictive power from 100 km to 1km. And the story of a Malaysian Breadfruit species that turns out to be two separate strains - something locals knew all along, but that science had missed.

Philp Ball's latest book, The Book of Minds, explores the work still to be done on our conception of what thinking is, and what it might mean in non-human contexts. Beth Singler is a digital ethnographer - an anthropologist who studies societal reaction to technological advancement. They discuss the story this week that a google AI engineer has been suspended on paid leave from his work with an experimental algorithm called LaMDA. He rather startlingly announced his belief that it had attained sentience, publishing some excerpts from interactions he has experienced with it.

Prof Dame Julia Slingo this week has published a proposal in Nature Climate Change, co-authored with several of the world's greatest climate scientists, for a multinational investment in the next generation of climate models. Currently, models of the global climate have a resolution of something like 100km, a scale which, they suggest, misses some very fundamental physics of the way rain, clouds and storms can form. Zooming into 1km resolution, and including the smaller physical systems will allow scientist to better predict extreme events, and crucially how water interacts in a real way with rising temperatures in different climes.

And can zooming in on taxonomy reveal insights in conservation and biodiversity? Researchers in the US and Malaysia have described a species of breadfruit that has hitherto been considered one species by mainstream science. Locals have long described them as different species, and the genetics proves that view correct. Can more local, granular knowledge help us get a better handle on the conservation status of our planet's biodiversity? Emily Bird Reports.

Presenter Marnie Chesterton
Reporter Emily Bird
Producer Alex Mansfield

Marnie Chesterton and guests mull over the saga of an AI engineer who believes his chatbot is sentient. Also, climate scientists propose a major leap in earth system modelling, that might cost £250m a year but would bring our predictive power from 100 km to 1km. And the story of a Malaysian Breadfruit species that turns out to be two separate strains - something locals knew all along, but that science had missed.

Philp Ball's latest book, The Book of Minds, explores the work still to be done on our conception of what thinking is, and what it might mean in non-human contexts. Beth Singler is a digital ethnographer - an anthropologist who studies societal reaction to technological advancement. They discuss the story this week that a google AI engineer has been suspended on paid leave from his work with an experimental algorithm called LaMDA. He rather startlingly announced his belief that it had attained sentience, publishing some excerpts from interactions he has experienced with it.

Prof Dame Julia Slingo this week has published a proposal in Nature Climate Change, co-authored with several of the world's greatest climate scientists, for a multinational investment in the next generation of climate models. Currently, models of the global climate have a resolution of something like 100km, a scale which, they suggest, misses some very fundamental physics of the way rain, clouds and storms can form. Zooming into 1km resolution, and including the smaller physical systems will allow scientist to better predict extreme events, and crucially how water interacts in a real way with rising temperatures in different climes.

And can zooming in on taxonomy reveal insights in conservation and biodiversity? Researchers in the US and Malaysia have described a species of breadfruit that has hitherto been considered one species by mainstream science. Locals have long described them as different species, and the genetics proves that view correct. Can more local, granular knowledge help us get a better handle on the conservation status of our planet's biodiversity? Emily Bird Reports.

Presenter Marnie Chesterton
Reporter Emily Bird
Producer Alex Mansfield

28 min

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