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Are We Alone? • 2018 • episode "3" Nova Wonders

Category: Technology
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Artificial intelligence is examined. Included: the effort to build intelligent machines by reverse-engineering the brain and by inventing completely new kinds of computers, with exponentially greater speed and processing power.

Nova Wonders • 2018 • 6 episodes •

What Are Animals Saying?

From singing whales and squeaking bats to thumping spiders and clicking dolphins, the world is filled with the exotic sounds of our fellow creatures. What are they saying? While we believe language sets us apart, some animals demonstrate they can learn our language—like Chaser the dog, who recognizes hundreds of words, and Kanzi the bonobo, who appears to have a sophisticated understanding of spoken English. But can we decode their own communications? NOVA Wonders follows researchers around the globe who are deciphering an amazing array of clues that reveal how animals share information critical to their survival. Will we one day be able to write the bat dictionary or decode the hidden sign language of chimps? And what can these findings tell us about the roots of our own language?

2018 • Nature

What's Living in You?

Whether they make you fat, fart, or freak out, microbes play a central role in your life. Right beneath your nose—on your face, in your gut, and everywhere in between—trillions of bacteria, viruses, and fungi are so abundant in your body, they outnumber your human cells. But these aren’t just nasty hitch-hikers. Many are crucial to your survival. Evidence suggests that a diverse microbiome can keep you healthy and, conversely, a damaged one could kill you. NOVA Wonders peers into this microscopic world to discover the fascinating, bizarre, and downright surprising secrets of the human microbiome, including the world’s largest stool bank, which transforms raw stool into life-saving poop pills.

2018 • Health

Are We Alone?

Artificial intelligence is examined. Included: the effort to build intelligent machines by reverse-engineering the brain and by inventing completely new kinds of computers, with exponentially greater speed and processing power.

2018 • Technology

Can We Build a Brain?

Artificially intelligent machines are taking over. They’re influencing our everyday lives in profound and often invisible ways. They can read handwriting, interpret emotions, play games, and even act as personal assistants. They are in our phones, our cars, our doctors’ offices, our banks, our web searches…the list goes on and is rapidly growing ever longer. But how does today’s A.I. actually work—and is it truly intelligent? And for that matter, what is intelligence? The world’s brightest computer programmers are trying to build brighter machines by reverse-engineering the brain and by inventing completely new kinds of computers, with exponentially greater speed and processing power. NOVA Wonders looks at how far we’ve come and where machines are headed as their software becomes ever more…cerebral. How close are we from a world in which computers take over—from diagnosing cancer to driving our cars to targeting weapons? If we place more and more of our lives under the control of these artificial brains, what are we putting at risk?

2018 • Brain

Can We Make Life?

"It's alive!" Since Dr. Frankenstein spoke those famous words, we've been alternately enthralled and terrified by the idea of creating life in the lab. Now, a revolution in genetic engineering and thrilling innovations in synthetic biology are bringing that dream—or nightmare, as the case may be—closer to reality. New tools allow researchers to use cells to create their own DNA and edit it into existing genomes with more ease and less cost than ever before. Along with renewed hopes for treating some genetic diseases, there's serious talk of using the newest technologies to bring long-extinct animals back from the dead – like the team hoping to resurrect the woolly mammoth. Science fiction is quickly becoming science fact. NOVA Wonders explores the benefits and the burden of risk surrounding the controversial new technology

2018 • Science

What's the Universe Made Of?

The universe is hiding something. In fact, it is hiding a lot. Everything we experience on Earth, the stars and galaxies we see in the cosmos—all the “normal” matter and energy that we understand—make up only 5% of the known universe. The other 95% is made up of two mysterious components: “dark matter” and “dark energy.” We can’t see them, but we know they’re there. And what’s more—these two shadowy ingredients are locked in an epic battle to control the very fate of the universe. Now, scientists are trying to shed light on the so-called “dark sector” as the latest generation of detectors rev up, and powerful telescopes peer deeper into space than ever before to observe how it behaves. Will the discoveries help reveal how galaxies formed? In the series finale, NOVA Wonders journeys to the stars and back to investigate what we know—and don’t know. Find out how scientists are discovering new secrets about the history of the universe, and why they’re predicting a shocking future.

2018 • Astronomy

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Do You Trust this Computer

Science fiction has long anticipated the rise of machine intelligence. Today, a new generation of self-learning computers is reshaping every aspect of our lives. Incomprehensible amounts of data are being collected, interpreted, and fed back to us in a tsunami of apps, smart devices, and targeted advertisements. Virtually every industry on earth is feeling this transformation, from job automation to medical diagnostics, from elections to battlefield weapons. Do You Trust This Computer? explores the promises and perils of this developing era. Will A.I. usher in an age of unprecedented potential, or prove to be our final invention?

2018 • Technology

Wright Brothers vs Curtiss

Orville and Wilbur Wright and Glen Curtiss face off in a rivalry that puts lives at risk.

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Digital Transcendence

Jason Silva is a positive futurist who wants us to be excited about "the adjacent possible" and the ways we need to embrace the coming technological changes -- the "tools" that will change us as a people and alter humankind.

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The Jet Age

In 1966, British aviation expert Sir Frank Whittle was honored for his services to the aviation industry. Twenty-five years earlier, the aeronautical engineer had invented the jet engine, and ushered in a new era of air travel. On May the 15th, 1941, the first experimental flight using Whittle's engine took off over Cranwell, England and flew for 17 minutes, at a top speed of 545km per hour.

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Fashion

This episode will reveal how new technologies will transform fashion in 2050: 3D textile printing, intelligent clothes, new fibers, new sustainable materials that adapt to the body’s needs… With a special guest appearance by JC de Castelbajac, the fashion designer.

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Indie Game: The Movie

Indie Game: The Movie is the first feature documentary film about making video games. It looks specifically at the underdogs of the video game industry, indie game developers, who sacrifice money, health and sanity to realize their lifelong dreams of sharing their visions with the world. After two years of painstaking work, designer Edmund McMillen and programmer Tommy Refenes await the release of their first major game for Xbox, Super Meat Boy—the adventures of a skinless boy in search of his girlfriend, who is made of bandages. At PAX, a major video-game expo, developer Phil Fish unveils his highly anticipated, four-years-in-the-making FEZ. Jonathan Blow considers beginning a new game after creating Braid, one of the highest-rated games of all time. Four developers, three games, and one ultimate goal— to express oneself through a video game. Indie Game: The Movie is about the creative process and putting yourself out there through your work. It’s a journey many filmmakers, creators, artists, entrepreneurs - many people, can relate to in the digital era.

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