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Ted Chiang

48 Podcast Episodes

Latest 25 Mar 2023 | Updated Daily

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Complex Conceptions of Time with David Krakauer, Ted Chiang, David Wolpert, & James Gleick


And now for something completely different!  Last October, The Santa Fe Institute held its third InterPlanetary Festival at SITE Santa Fe, celebrating the immensely long time horizon, deep scientific and philosophical questions, psychological challenges, and engineering problems involved in humankind’s Great Work to extend its understanding and presence into outer space. For our third edition, we turned our attention to visionary projects living generations will likely not live to see completed — interstellar travel, off-world cities, radical new ways of understanding spacetime — as an invitation to engage in science as not merely interesting but deeply fun. For our first panel, we decided to inquire: What is time, really? How has science fiction changed  the way we track and measure, speak about, and live in time? And how do physics and complex systems science pose and answer these most fundamental questions?Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.In this week’s episode, we share the Complex Conceptions of Time panel from InterPlanetary Festival 2022, moderated by SFI President David Krakauer and featuring an all-star trinity of panelists: science journalist James Gleick, sci-fi author and SFI Miller Scholar Ted Chiang, and physicist and SFI Professor David Wolpert. In this hour, we play with and dissect some favorite metaphors for time, unroll the history of time’s mathematization, review time travel in science fiction, and examine the arguments between free will and determinism.Be sure to check out our extensive show notes with links to all our references at complexity.simplecast.com — as well as the extensive, interactive web-based “Voyager Golden Record Liner Notes” with links to not only all of the panels from IPFest 2022 but also copious additional resources, including contributor bios, peer-reviewed publications, science fiction and nonfiction science writing, and more…If you value our research and communication efforts, please subscribe, rate and review us at Apple Podcasts or Spotify, and consider making a donation — or finding other ways to engage with us — at santafe.edu/engage.If you’d like some HD virtual backgrounds of the SFI campus to use on video calls and a chance to win a signed copy of one of our books from the SFI Press, help us improve our science communication by completing a survey about our various scicomm channels. Thanks for your time!Lastly, we have a bevy of summer programs coming up! Join us June 19-23 for Collective Intelligence: Foundations + Radical Ideas, a first-ever event open to both academics and professionals, with sessions on adaptive matter, animal groups, brains, AI, teams, and more.  Space is limited!  The application deadline has been extended to March 1st.OR apply to the Graduate Workshop on Complexity in Social Science.OR the Complexity GAINS UK program for PhD students.(OR check our open listings for a staff or research job!)Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode.Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano.Episode cover art by Michael Garfield with the help of Midjourney.Follow us on social media:Twitter • YouTube • Facebook • Instagram • LinkedIn(SOME) Mentioned & Related Links:David KrakauerMathematical languages shape our understanding of time in physicsby Nicolas GisinDoes Time Really Flow? New Clues Come From a Century-Old Approach to Mathby Natalie WolchoverThe Principle of Least ActionPath Integral FormulationClosed Timelike CurveThe Time Machineby H. G. WellsKip ThorneJames GleickGenius: The Life and Science of Richard FeynmanThe Physicist and The Philosopherby Jimena CanalesTed Chiang“Story of Your Life”ArrivalExhalationRussian Doll (TV series)“The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate”David WolpertComplexity 94 - David Wolpert & Farita Tasnim on The Thermodynamics of CommunicationComplexity 45 - David Wolpert on The No Free Lunch Theorems and Why They Undermine The Scientific MethodA Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark TwainIntuitionist Mathematics


24 Feb 2023

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LIVE ON CROWDCAST: Benjamin Rosenbaum, ”THE UNRAVELING” w/ Ted Chiang

Skylight Books Podcast Series

In the far-off future, Fift is a Staid-gendered youth–working towards logic and thoughtfulness–just trying to figure out zir life in the bustling, but rigid social system of Fullbelly. And as if mastering zir three bodies and making zir twelve parents proud weren’t enough to handle, Fift’s growing relationship with Shria, an at-times emotional and passionate Vail-gendered bioengineer, is a controversy waiting to happen.  When Fift and Shria wind up at the center of a scandalous art spectacle that sparks off a multilayered Unraveling of society, Fift is torn between zir attraction to Shria and the safety of zir family, between staying true to zir feelings and social compliance . . . all while zir personal crises suddenly take on global  significance. What’s a young Staid to do when the whole world is watching?In his intricate and thoughtful debut novel, The Unraveling, Benjamin Rosenbaum brings warmth, heart, and humor to this story of growing up in the distant future, interrogates exactly who a utopia is for, and how social structures only change when everyone has a voice. Like Chana Porter’s The Seep and Monica Byrne’s The Actual Star, Benjamin Rosenbaum’s The Unraveling is the latest in a line of science fiction that challenges gender, society, and culture, while showcasing an inclusive, expansive, and creative vision of what the future can be.  Join us for this conversation between author Rosenbaum and Ted Chiang, moderated by Halley Perry, recorded live on our Crowdcast channel on Thursday, July 26. Produced by Nat Freeman, Lance Morgan, & Michael Kowaleski. Theme: "I Love All My Friends," an unreleased demo by Fragile Gang. Visit https://www.skylightbooks.com/event for future offerings from the Skylight Books Events team.

1hr 5mins

3 Aug 2022

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Ep. 39 "Ted Chiang and the Metrics of Personhood"​

Mohanraj and Rosenbaum Are Humans

Surprise! It's a bonus season 1 episode we've been keeping on the back burner! Ted Chiang comes onto the show to have a discussion with Ben about what it means to be a person, whether Alan Turing's test for artificial intelligence still holds up, and the persistent themes of parenting and religion in Chiang's work. Link to upcoming Ben and Ted virtual event for Skylight Books: https://www.crowdcast.io/e/skylit-rosenbaum/register Episode show notes: https://speculativeliterature.org/show-notes-for-ep-39/

2hr 28mins

22 Jul 2022

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Three stories by Ted Chiang

Apples to Giraffes

Links to things we talked about:Variety: "Robert Downey Jr. to Co-Star in Adaptation of ‘The Sympathizer’ for HBO and A24" The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh NguyenBlack Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon JamesThe Handmaiden by Park Chan-Wook (adapted from Fingersmith by Sarah Waters)BONE by Jeff SmithYahoo movies: Netflix Animation Erased: Executives Fired, Shows Canceled and Accusations of ‘Staged Data’Polygon: Bone creator Jeff Smith got his ‘dream team’ for Netflix animated seriesStories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang (including "Hell Is the Absence of God" and "Story of Your Life")Arrival by Denis VilleneuveExhalation by Ted Chiang (including "The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate")Tor: Let’s Rank Every Ted Chiang Story Ever PublishedOur Plugs:The Secrets of Story and The Secrets of Character by Matt BirdOuter RangeSupport the show by buying any of the books we spoke about from our Bookshop!Follow us:Instagram and TwitterJonas:Instagram and TwitterFrançois:Instagram

1hr 29mins

23 Jun 2022

Most Popular

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#1 Ted Chiang - Stories of Your Life and Others

Good Scribes Only

In this episode, we discussed Ted Chaing's short story collection: Stories of Your Life and Others. Mr. Chiang is, to put it lightly, a rare breed of science fiction author. Perhaps this is because, before becoming a novelist, was a technical writer in during the American software boom. He is one of the only sci-fi authors either of us have read who manages to successfully balance a rigorous understanding of science and technology with authorial emotional depth. We spent most of our time on two of the stories in the collection: Tower of Babylon and Story of Your Life. Babylon is a science fiction, fantasy novelette and Chiang's first (and towering) published work. As you might expect, the story examines the Tower of Babel myth from the Old Testament and this story won the 1991 Nebula Award for Best novelette. Story of Your Life is perhaps Chiang's best known work, mostly because of the popularity of its film adaptation arrival, starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner. For the Story of Your Life portion of the podcast, we focus our attention on the written version, and its major themes like language and free will. Enjoy ✌️

1hr 29mins

13 May 2022

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Short # 29 - Ted Chiang's "Tower of Babylon"

Mismatched Texts

Wherein Justice and Andy construct their reading of Ted Chiang's Nebula award-winning short story "Tower of Babylon." While building a tower to heaven, Ted Chiang follows the experiences of a miner, Hillalum, as he prepares to chisel his way into paradise. Let's just say, things get turned upside-down. What's the point of all of this effort? And can Hillalum find the face of God in a closed system? 


30 Apr 2022

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Ted Chiang - Exhalation

Spine Crackers

In this episode, the Spine Crackers discuss Ted Chiang's much-lauded sci-fi short story collection Exhalation, which touches on issues as wide ranging as tech startup culture, free will, and time travel! 

1hr 30mins

29 Apr 2022

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Ted Chiang's short stories - Like the optimistic version of black mirror episodes!

Hugonauts: The Best Sci-Fi Books of All Time

In this episode we review and discuss Exhalation and Stories of Your Life and Others, Ted Chiang's two short story collections. These seventeen stories are full of novel scientific ideas, wonderful characters, and thoughtful takes on the morality of future technologies and how they will change society. We certainly aren't alone in thinking they're wonderful - Ted Chiang has won four Hugos, four Nebulas, and four Locus awards for his stories. As always, we also recommend and discuss some similar books if you're looking for more great sci fi short story collections to read. This week, we recommend The Paper Menagerie and other Stories by Ken Liu, The Hidden Girl and Other Stories by Ken Liu, I, Robot by Isaac Asimov, and Welcome to the Monkey House by Kurt Vonnegut.If you'd prefer to watch the video version, you can watch it here.


5 Apr 2022

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090 Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang

Book Club with Julia and Victoria

Julia and Victoria (whose mic simply refused to cooperate this episode) dip their toes into the world of science fiction with “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang, and its film adaptation Arrival. This inspires them to think some big, timey-wimey thoughts about language and brains and the way our experience of time affects our views on life.Become a Member! Follow Us on Instagram or Storygraph!Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links that give us a commission if you decide to make a purchase at no additional cost to you. Learn more.Mentioned in this episode:Arrival (2016 film)The Martian (2015 film)Ringworld series by Larry NivenStar TrekStarlight 2 anthologyStory of Your Life, and Others by Ted Chiang“Ted Chiang's Soulful Science Fiction” by Joshua Rothman in The New YorkerRecommendations:Dune (2021 film)Dune by Frank Herbert2001: A Space Odyssey (1968 film)2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C ClarkeLeviathan Wakes by James S A CoreyThe Expanse (TV series)Enders Game by Orson Scott CardEnders Game (2013 film)Saga by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona StaplesWatchmen (2019 TV mini series)Currently Obsessed:The Dawn of Everything by Graeber and WengrowUntitled Dad Project podcastSounds Like a Cult podcast

19 Mar 2022

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32: "Story of Your Life" by Ted Chiang / Arrival (2016)

Darling, Why?

The podcast goes into the realm of science fiction, as Kate discusses her love/hate relationship with time-based sci-fi through the lens of "Story of Your Life" by Ted Chiang and the movie based on it, Arrival. Listen to the end to hear their excitement about Dune and Louis' impression of David Lynch.    linktr.ee/louistsangarides INSTAGRAM @l.a.tsang TWITTER @l_a_tsang --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/louis-tsangarides/message


21 Sep 2021