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SAPIENS: A Podcast for Everything Human

Aug 28, 2018

Can robots care? And why should we care if they do? SAPIENS host Jen Shannon meets Pepper the robot, and host Chip Colwell goes on a quest to find out how the robotics industry is (re)shaping intimacy in Japan. He speaks with anthropologists Jennifer Robertson, Daniel White, and Hirofumi Katsuno, all researchers in the field of robotics, to learn more about what artificial emotion can teach us about what it means to be human.

  • Jennifer Robertson is a professor of anthropology and of the history of art at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. 
  • Hirofumi Katsuno is an associate professor in the department of media, journalism, and communications at Doshisha University, Kyoto.
  • Daniel White is a postdoctoral fellow in the department of history and cultural studies at the Freie Universität Berlin.

Learn more about artificial intelligence at

An original score inspired by the 1927 film Metropolis called 2026: Musik Inspired by Metropolis by the composer Scott Ampleford appeared in this episode.

This episode of Sapiens was produced by Arielle Milkman, edited by Matthew Simonson, and hosted by Chip Colwell, Esteban Gomez, and Jen Shannon.

Sapiens producer Paul Karolyi, executive producer Cat Jaffee, and House of Pod intern Lucy Soucek provided additional support.

All music is produced and designed by Matthew Simonson with illustration by David Williams, and fact-checking by Christine Weeber.

Sapiens is part of the American Anthropological Association Podcast Library.

This is an editorially independent podcast funded by the Wenner-Gren Foundation and produced by House of Pod.