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Machines with Brains // do androids dream of electric sheep?

Where human meets machine: a new season of ‘Machines with Brains’

By Autumn Hand

Artificial intelligence is taking on tasks that once seemed exclusively human: Changing our brains, augmenting our memory, explaining our bias. AI is, in effect, giving humanity an upgrade. What were once capabilities thought unique to humans are now powering technologies that could offer the ability to extend and deepen our lives—or supplant our livelihoods.

In the second season of Machines with Brains, Quartz explores the ever-blurring boundary between human and machine. Tapping into our obsession with AI and robots, this series of stories explores the technologies, personalities, and companies ushering in the age of the intelligent machine. It looks through the lens of the latest advances in AI to delve more deeply into what it means to be human in a world that is increasingly powered by these technologies.

Season two introduces us to Maya, the first interactive virtual pop star on the planet. She is a hologram made from an amalgam of a professional dancer and a singer hidden under a virtual veneer. We meet a man who is using a computer implant to train his body to learn an entirely new sense. And we leans of a machine that has read much of the internet, in hopes of correcting our human bias.

In the first season of Machines with Brains, Quartz explored our love of robots in pop culture, introduced us to the soft robots that inspired Baymax, and investigated how artificial intelligence is redefining friendship. Can a robot love? How can you become the most “human” human? What does it mean to be human in a world that’s increasingly filled with robots?