I’ve long been fascinated by automatons – wind up mechanical beings that create the illusion of life. People have been making automatons for centuries, but how many automatons get to sing opera? This week’s episode comes from the podcast Aria Code from WQXR, WNYC Studios and The Metropolitan Opera. The show breaks down famous arias and looks at the meaning behind them. Host Rhiannon Giddens, along with Soprano Erin Morley, conductor Johannes Debus, machine learning researcher Caroline Sinders, and psychologist Robert Epstein explore Jacques Offenbach’s 1881 opera The Tales of Hoffmann and how its automated character Olympia echoes current day concerns about A.I. technology.

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