June 23, 2023

Greetings, People Of Earth

Humans encounter non-human intelligences of various kinds and try to make sense of them.


Unicorn created by GPT-4, courtesy of Sebastian Bubeck

Note: The internet version of this episode contains un-beeped curse words. BEEPED VERSION.



Ira has some thoughts about our country’s long history of alien invasion movies. (2 minutes)

Act One

First Contact

In this past year we’ve witnessed a revolution in A.I. since the public rollout of ChatGPT.  Our Senior Editor David Kestenbaum thinks that even though there’s been a ton of coverage, there’s one thing people haven’t talked much about: have these machines gotten to the point that they’re starting to have something like human intelligence? Where they actually understand language and concepts, and can reason? He talks with scientists at Microsoft who’ve been trying to figure that out. (30 minutes)

Act Two

Meat Cute

A short piece of fiction from the perspective of aliens who’ve been scouting Earth, from writer Terry Bisson. It’s called “They're Made Out of Meat.” It’s performed by actors Maeve Higgins and H Jon Benjamin. (5 minutes)

More information about Terry Bisson on his website. His latest novel is Any Day Now. Maeve Higgins’ comedy album is A Very Special Woman. H Jon Benjamin plays the title characters in the TV shows Bob’s Burgers and Archer. He is also the Jazz Daredevil on Sub Pop Records.

Written by Terry Bisson
Act Three

Yacht Rocked

A species of massive, mysterious, highly intelligent beings have recently been making contact with humanity. Or our boats, anyway. Many people seem convinced they are seeking revenge for past injustices. Producer Chris Benderev wondered if that was true. (7 minutes)

April Boyes documents her sailing on her blog, Beyond The Boyes.