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Guardian launches new podcast series

The Guardian launches ‘Black Box’, a narrative podcast series that explores the collision between artificial intelligence and us.

Guardian launches new podcast series
Michael Safi: “Black Box is a snapshot of the first moments when everything started to change.”

The Guardian has launched Black Box, a new six-part podcast series that takes a look at humanity’s collision with AI.

Led by Michael Safi, host of the Guardian’s daily news podcast Today in Focus, every episode of Black Box follows a new story, added the publisher. In Norway, a young woman’s boyfriend forgets who she is, overnight. In Detroit, a shop is robbed and a man is arrested but he says he was never there. In a small town in Spain, disturbing deep fake images of young girls have been circulating and no one knows who is behind them.

Episode zero, the prologue is available for listening now. The prologue introduces the series and shares the poignant story of a socially isolated woman who has used AI to help her find a companion.

As the series continues listeners will meet the people who created the technology, the people falling in love with it and those using it to improve lives, as well as destroy them, continued the publisher.

Episodes will be released every Monday and Thursday over the coming weeks, added the Guardian. Episode one titled ‘The connectionists’ will be available from Monday 4 March. You can listen wherever you get your podcasts.

Michael Safi, Guardian journalist and podcast host, Black Box, said: “We started this series aiming to explore the way intelligent machines were already making an impact in the world. But as we started reporting, our team kept finding ourselves drawn to the people whose lives were becoming intertwined with AI. We realised: this was not just a series about an extraordinary advance in technology, it was about what it means to be human in an age where machines are gaining the power to comfort us, cure diseases, fight wars and automate our work (except making podcasts!). Black Box is a snapshot of the first moments when everything started to change.”

Nicole Jackson, head of audio, Guardian News & Media, said: “Black Box is a brilliant deep dive into the complex world of AI. Using narrative storytelling, the team have found extraordinary stories to illustrate the ways in which this new intelligence is going to change everything - for the better and for the worse. From meeting scientists who are behind what could be the most impactful invention of this century to hunting down Russian coders who are using AI to wreak havoc around the world, the question the podcast continually probes is: as we give more and more power to AI, what will it mean for all of our lives?”

Black Box is the Guardian’s next narrative podcast after the release of Can I tell you a Secret?. Following the podcast's success a new two-part documentary of the same name has been released on Netflix and is a number one rated series, based on original reporting by the Guardian, added the publisher.

The Guardian says it has been creating podcasts for over 17 years and claims it’s currently one of the leading podcast producers in the UK, with a combined podcast network that enjoys millions of listens every month. The Guardian says recent highlights include:

  • Food podcast Comfort Eating with Grace Dent is now in its sixth season, with new weekly episodes featuring the likes of Katie Price, Amol Rajan, Kathy Burke, Michelle de Swartz and more chatting about life through food.
  • Flagship daily news podcast Today in Focus recently turned five. One of the Guardian’s most successful podcasts to date, since launching in November 2018, the podcast has achieved over 250 million all-time listens.
  • Recent research from the Guardian found that Guardian podcast listeners are loyal and engaged: Half of all Football Weekly listeners have been listening for at least five years, and the vast majority (73%) never miss a single episode. Today in Focus is also a long-standing favourite amongst its listeners, with 38% of listeners listening for at least three years.

Black Box is reported by Michael Safi. The series has been produced by Alex Atack and executive produced by Joshua Kelly with additional production support by Nicola Alexandrou. Original music and sound design is by Rudi Zygadlo and the music supervisor is Max Sanderson, the Guardian’s audio senior editor. The commissioning editor is Nicole Jackson, the Guardian’s head of audio.

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