To judge from some of the headlines, it was a very big deal. At an event held at the Royal Society in London, for the first time ever, a computer passed the Turing Test, which is widely taken as the benchmark for saying a machine is engaging in intelligent thought. But like the other much-hyped triumphs of artificial intelligence, this one wasn't quite what it appeared. Computers can do things that seem quintessentially human, but they usually take a different path to get there.
What's the most popular seafood in the U.S.? Shrimp. The average American eats more shrimp per capita than tuna and salmon combined. Most of that shrimp comes from Asia, and most of the salmon we eat is also imported. In fact, 91 percent of the seafood Americans eat comes from abroad, but one-third of the seafood Americans catch gets sold to other countries.
Peter Temple writes prize-winning thrillers, four of them about his sometimes hapless investigator, Jack Irish. The books capture Melbourne, Australia: its pubs, racetracks, big boulevards rattling with traffic, and narrow alleys — called lanes — painted with graffiti.
Jack Irish was headed for a life as a successful suburban solicitor, or lawyer, when one of his criminal clients murdered Jack's wife, and Jack dropped the law to become a drunk. The novels — some are now TV movies — begin with his surfacing and looking around for his life.
The journey of a girl sold into slavery is the topic of a compelling piece of fiction out of South Africa. It's called "The Expedition To The Boabab Tree." The author is poet Wilma Stockenstrom. She originally published it back in 1981, and now it has been translated from the Africaans by Nobel Prize winner J.M. Coetzee and published in the United States. Allen Cheuse has our review.
Update: Since this story was published, Sony Pictures Television — which produces Community — announced that Yahoo will be picking the show up for a sixth season. This story has been updated to reflect that development.
Purveyors of fine foods have any number of ways of showing them off. Auntie Anne's hands out free pretzel samples at the mall; McDonald's lets a princess sit on top of the Big Mac to show she can't feel a pea underneath.
At Ted Drewes in St. Louis, when they hand you your Concrete, they flip it upside down to show you it's so thick, it won't fall out of the cup.
The game show at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) earlier in June wasn't exactly staid. But it was clear that most game publishers are playing it safe — very safe. Each year, I complain about franchise-ization, a godawful game trend that makes a convention focused on the wonders of electronic entertainment a lot less fun - especially since 2014 was the year in which game makers offered more sequels than ever before.
Transformers: Age of Extinction has smashed its way to the No. 1 spot at the box office. Director Michael Bay's film franchise has consistently topped charts since the first film arrived in theaters in 2007.
The live-action films have embraced the latest in visual affects — but the movies have also called back to the series' past, through the voice of Peter Cullen.
The Colombian national team has reached the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time ever. It comes on the anniversary of the infamous murder of star Colombian player Andres Escobar, just weeks after he scored an own goal in the Cup. NPR's Arun Rath speaks with John Rojas, a Colombian-American journalist whose new Spanish-language book Futbol de negro is a fictionalized account of those weeks.
Oliver was anxious all the time. He demonstrated compulsive behavior, and he howled every time his parents left him alone at home. Oliver was a dog - a Bernese Mountain Dog.
But he, like many animals, displayed some amazingly human psychological traits. That was the inspiration for Laurel Braitman's new book. It's called "Animal Madness." It looks at the mental states and behaviors of animals and how they sometimes mirror our own. Laurel Braitman joins me now from KQED in San Francisco. Welcome.
On-air challenge: For each set of three words, find a word that can precede each one to complete a familiar two-word phrase or name. The first word in each set will name an animal. Example: turtle, spring, office. The answer would be box — box turtle, box spring, box office.
Last week's challenge: Think of a 10-letter adjective describing certain institutions. Drop three letters from this word, and the remaining seven letters, reading left to right, will name an institution described by this adjective. What institution is it?
As a teenager, I believed in God, but I didn't know what he wanted from me. I attended Bible study, befriended the evangelical kids from my school and listened to the Christian rap group dcTalk. I read the Bible and books about staying pure. I wondered if the weird, queasy feeling around my molars was God speaking to me.
Over the course of the past month, some 600 million Indians went to the polls to elect a new government — the largest exercise in democracy in the world.
The results surprised few: Discontented voters tossed out the ruling Congress Party and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Congress, which has controlled India much of the time since its independence in 1947, has now been reduced to a parliamentary remnant.
Joel Dicker's breakneck thriller The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair lands stateside trumpeting international sales figures that are the stuff of a writer's wildest dreams: nearly a million copies in France alone. Naturally, our curiosity is roused. Could this be another surprise charmer like Muriel Barbery's quirky The Elegance of the Hedgehog? Or, as the publicity materials tout breathlessly, a "broadly comic" mashup of Twin Peaks, In Cold Blood, The Hotel New Hampshire and more?
It's May, 1977, in small-town Ohio, and the Lee family is sitting down at breakfast. James is Chinese-American and Marilyn is white, and they have three children — two girls and a boy. But on this day, their middle child Lydia, who is also their favorite, is nowhere to be found.
That's how Celeste Ng's new novel, Everything I Never Told You, begins.
Lindsey Stirling's been described as a dancing-hip-hop-dub-step-classical violinist - you know, another one of those.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG)
SIMON: She made her mainstream debut when she auditioned for "America's Got Talent" in 2010. Made it all the way to the quarter-finals, only to be told by Piers Morgan and Sharon Osbourne - there just isn't a market for a dancing hip-hop violinist. Well, what a mistake that turned out to be.
The online video industry is growing up. It has its own annual conference called VidCon, now in its fifth year. VidCon wraps up today at the Anaheim Convention Center as Corey Takahashi reports. The three-day event draws producers, dealmakers and thousands of fans just who just hope to meet their favorite YouTube stars.
Greta is an English woman in New York who plays guitar who's just been dumped by her lover who's become a big star. Dan is a former music producer who's been dumped by his wife, by the company he founded and is disregarded by his daughter who's 14 or 15. He's not really sure which. He even had to hawk his Grammy Awards just to pay for a couple of benders. Can anything save them? Maybe music.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG FROM "BEGIN AGAIN")
KEIRA KNIGHTLEY: (As Greta, singing) And all at once, it seemed like a good way...
Comedian Joan Rivers got a diary from her daughter for the holidays a while back, and at first she was upset. Then, she reflected: Maybe it's a chance for her to save and share her wisdom. Like this entry from Feb. 16:
Woke up not feeling well. I spent the entire day online on WebMD. ... I can say with 100 percent certainty that I have pleurisy, tuberculosis, brain stem cancer or an enlarged prostate. I found a great cure for whatever ails you. God bless the Internet! A coffee enema. ... The only negative: I can never go back to Starbucks.
In a small shed in Tenancingo, Mexico, partly open to the sky, about a half-dozen men stand behind huge wooden looms. They pedal side-by-side, their churning feet making a beautiful harmony as they craft handmade rebozos.
Rebozos,long rectangular shawls that came into style in Mexico in the 16th century, and the huipil, a woven and embroidered blouse or dress of pre-Columbian origin, are the main elements of Mexican traditional dress.
It's a question that's persisted for over a century: how could a slight 19-year-old fire two shots and end up starting a war that killed millions around the world?
Tim Butcher, the well-traveled British war correspondent who covered later wars in the Balkans, went back to Sarajevo to try to learn more about Gavrilo Princip, the young Serbian revolutionary who changed the course of history in the worst way by assassinating Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, and his wife Sophie.
Dear sweet privacy, where did you go? And where can we go to be alone with you again? Thanks to the Supreme Court, one answer is, surprisingly, our cell phones. On Wednesday, the Court ruled that, except in emergencies such as kidnappings and bomb threats, police can't search our phones without a warrant.
Scarlett Johansson may be the most famous Scarlet(t) nowadays — she's starred in movies ranging from Lost in Translation to The Avengers. But back in the 1960s, she would have had some serious competition from "indestructible" Captain Scarlet of Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, a British science fiction TV show.
We've invited Johansson to answer three questions about the other Scarlet.
James Carroll, who served as a Catholic priest before his literary ambitions led him to go secular, has gathered together his knowledge of church history and his mature powers as a novelist to create Warburg in Rome, his most splendid work of fiction to date.