On last week's show, Brooke interviewed astrophysicist Martin Rees about a new research center that will study existential risks to humanity, including the risk of killer robots. After playing some audio of Kyle Rees, a character from the original "Terminator" movie, Brooke jokingly remarked that there was no relation between Martin and Kyle. OTM listener Ralph Kohler saw a problem with that, and explains it to Brooke.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: We'll launch this part of the show with a confession and a correction. The confession, simply that I made a mistake in last week's show. I, we, the show inevitably make mistakes, which we correct by marking the offending section in our transcripts, accessible at onthemedia.org and then correct at the bottom of that page. That way, people can see the original and the fixed version. And we also have a Corrections page. Anyway, last week I made a mistake and, for a nerd like myself, it's a doozy.
I was interviewing Astrophysicist Martin Rees about a host of existential threats humans need to consider, including the rise of intelligent machines. And we used a clip from the first “Terminator” movie, with hero Kyle Reese, to illustrate. I jokingly remarked that Kyle and Martin Rees were not related. That's when I blew it. Listener Ralph Kohler from Oneida, New York laid it out in an e-mail. He's on the line. Hi, Ralph, can you read the letter?
RALPH KOHLER: Sure. “I love On the Media and I love the ‘Terminator’ but you said ‘Martin Rees, no relation Kyle Reese.’ I'm disappointed by this bit of sloppy reporting, and I really expected better of you. Since Kyle is from the future, it's entirely possible that Kyle is related to Martin. In fact, given their shared interest in apocalyptic machines, it seems likely that Martin's interest will someday play a key role in Kyle's survival. I still love the show, listening to you through a series of automated cybernetic systems that deliver your podcast to me without human intervention.”
BROOKE GLADSTONE: [LAUGHS] I'm glad we haven't lost you, Ralph. Can you describe the moment when you heard that heinous mistake?
RALPH KOHLER: I realized it instantly but it – I thought about it for about five minutes into the next segment and then rewound it and listened to it again -
BROOKE GLADSTONE: [LAUGHS] Mm.
RALPH KOHLER: - and tapped out the note right away. It's the sort of thing that I, I really expected 100 other e-mailers to send in.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: [LAUGHS] You really seem to understand this subject very well. What do you do for a living?
RALPH KOHLER: I actually develop automated surveillance and munitions delivery systems for the Department of Defense. Essentially I work on killer robots.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: For the Defense Department?
RALPH KOHLER: Yes.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Ralph, it's a please meeting you, and I promise I'll never make this mistake again.
RALPH KOHLER: Thanks a lot, Brooke, it was a pleasure.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: That was listener Ralph Kohler. Please, if you hear something, say something, or at least e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org.