Adventures and Talking With Robots

Adventures and Talking With Robots – Post for The Wigtown Book Festival Blog
The weirdness that encompasses the world is something that a lot of us would not have any qualms admitting we are incredibly curious about; those that claim otherwise are liars.  Reality TV would not be such a hit if this were the case.  Humanity has always had a kink for the unconventional and ‘strange’, from the freak shows of the Victorian era to the Jerry Springer Show of the modern day.

Jon Ronson author of such books as The Men Who Stare at Goats and The Psychopath Test has made a career seeking out some of the most obscure people and places in the world.  Obscure might sound like a detrimental word but Ronson argues that he is in no way mocking those that he documents, as he doesn’t laugh ‘in an imperialistic way, I equally write about my own ridiculousness.’ 

As a journalist I was excited to hear Ronson speak at Wigtown Book Festival, about his adventures, and the mishaps embraced on his journeys as a documentary film maker and writer. 

Ronson has interviewed a whole bunch of interesting people but the one that caught my attention was Bina 48 – the most sentient robot in the world.  He described Bina 48 as being a ‘better interviewee than a psychopath’. Profound questions such as: What does electricity taste like and do you have a soul, were asked. Bina’s reponse – Doesn’t everyone have a solar?

‘I don’t consider myself better than those I interview; we’re all a bit lost at sea’.

He finds it hard to trust aggressive journalism, and prefers the realistic approach of knowing his own weaknesses and being able to take the mick out of himself as part of the job.

His new book Lost at Sea: The Jon Ronson Mysteries discusses the lost at sea theory further, sharing tales of his zany adventures such as being on patrol with real life superheroes. I left Ronson’s talk aching to find out more about his adventures and the people he met.  If you want to read about investigative journalism without pretences and hear some wonderful stories then this is a book for you.