Starter episode: “When A.I. hears a problem”
ChatGPT’s ability to write just about anything, including college essays, programming code and even scripts for TV shows, has had a far-reaching impact on daily life since its launch in the fall of 2022. As alarming as the development is for many industries, though, it’s clear that chatbots have a long way to go when it comes to writing fiction. For proof, just take a look at the A.I.-generated TV scripts now available online, and this thoroughly entertaining podcast further proves that point. “The Bot Canon,” hosted by Hannah Keefer, seeks out what happens when you ask an A.I. to co-write the most beloved novels of all time. Each episode begins with the actual opening lines of a literary classic like “Pride and Prejudice,” before taking a hard left turn into an A.I.-generated continuation. Some are reasonable-if-shaky imitations, while others descend quickly into surreal chaos. Although the show hasn’t been updated since January, the back catalog is deep, comprising plenty of classics like “Little Women” alongside contemporary hits like “The Da Vinci Code.”
Starter episode: “The Hobbot (J.R.R. Tolkien)”
This incisive weekly show isn’t explicitly about A.I. so much as the tech industry overall, but the subject has been unsurprisingly dominant in recent episodes. Hosted by the technology writer Paris Marx and a rotating cast of guest experts, the podcast takes a highly skeptical view of Silicon Valley, and specifically its tendency to prioritize efficiency and disruption regardless of the human cost. Nevertheless, “Tech Won’t Save Us” is neither doom-laden nor scaremongering, presenting potential solutions alongside its analysis of what’s not working. For anyone alarmed by all of the widespread predictions about A.I. swallowing whole entire job sectors, the show’s measured coverage might prove reassuring.
Starter episode: “Chatbots Won’t Take Many Jobs”
Though aspects of this anxiety-laden cyber thriller from five years ago no longer feel as current as they once did, it’s still an intriguing exploration of what separates human intelligence from the artificial kind. “Sandra” was the second audio drama from Gimlet Media following the success of “Homecoming,” and features a similarly star-studded cast, with Kristen Wiig voicing the eponymous Alexa-esque virtual assistant who is — in an unexpected twist — not a true A.I. Instead, Sandra is powered by an army of human call center operators, who are paid to listen in on customers and respond to their needs in real time. Alia Shawkat (“Search Party”) stars as a new hire who becomes increasingly drawn into the powerful possibilities of her new gig, and doesn’t realize until too late that she’s in over her head.
Starter episode: “Hope Is A Mistake”
Since it began in 2017, this series from the Boston-based, NPR-affiliate WBUR has expanded beyond its original horizons, which focused specifically on Reddit and the online communities it creates. Hosted by Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson, “Endless Thread” now delves into the stories behind all kinds of technological ephemera. Last year the show ran a six-part mini-series about the rise of A.I. titled “Good Bot, Bad Bot,” beginning with an illuminating oral history of ELIZA, the first chatbot therapist, and the Frankenstein-esque misgivings it inspired in its creator.
Starter episode: “Good Bad, Bad Bot Part 1: Mental Health and Bot Therapy”