Sci-Fi and AI / Women Crime Bosses

Hosted byGeorge Knapp

Sci-Fi and AI / Women Crime Bosses

About the show

In the first half, bestselling author Ernest Cline joined George Knapp to discuss his thoughts on artificial intelligence and UFOs. He wished listeners a happy Father's Day, saying that as a dad, he tries to remain optimistic about the future, even while facing the uncertain implications of rapidly evolving AI. Cline, whose book "Ready Player One" was developed into a major motion picture, spoke about how science fiction's alarming portrayals of AI are beginning to manifest. "Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke were warning us about artificial intelligence," he said. "I think about [the film] 2001 and the thesis presented there, which is really just humans and their tools getting out of control." He shared his belief that AI might derive from alien intelligence, saying, "Our military has been taking alien or non-human technology that they've recovered going back to Roswell, and maybe even before that."

Cline addressed how scientists and government officials have grown more interested in alien technology. Members of Congress are now pressing top military brass for answers about phenomena in US airspace, but Cline noted that these requests for classified information often hit a brick wall. "I don't think they can come clean… because to come clean is to admit that they're not in control," he claimed. "We can't control our own airspace, and that's mission failure." Despite all the red tape, he admitted that he's glad the conversation around UFOs and secretive technology is progressing. "I think the genie's out of the bottle," he said.

Cline has also helped develop a digital gaming platform called Readyverse, inspired by his novel "Ready Player One". He shared with listeners how he hopes this online space will foster communication and collaboration among sci-fi fans, saying that the metaverse allows people to "recreate the fictional environments depicted in movies or in television shows… and then meet up inside these environments." Cline sees the metaverse as a new storytelling platform that transcends geographic limitations. "These are the most interesting times to be alive," he claimed. To see a preview of the Readyverse, check out the video below.


In the second half, journalist Lissa Townsend Rodgers spoke about some of the women crime bosses she profiled in her book "Shameless: Women of the Underworld." She was inspired to give women in mob history a voice after realizing how little the public knew about them. "I've always been interested in the people whose names you see mentioned, but nobody really tells you their story," she said. Living in Las Vegas exposed her to many tales of organized crime, which fueled her interest in the subject even more. She gave listeners insights about Bonnie Parker of the infamous duo Bonnie and Clyde, debunking myths and highlighting the couple's desperation and vulnerability. She emphasized Bonnie's intelligence, challenging the public's perception of her as a mere sidekick to Clyde. "She was an incredibly bright woman… she was very good with media and image in a time when people didn't understand that," Townsend Rodgers stated while talking about the couple's legendary photographs. "At a certain point, she recognized that they were going to be spoken about, and she wanted a say in it."

Townsend Rodgers also talked about two other strong, flamboyant women from the criminal underworld: Virginia Hill and Stephanie St. Clair. Hill learned to stand up for herself at an early age, especially around her abusive father. "She picked up a frying pan full of grease that was hot and hit him with it," Townsend Rodgers said. "He never came near her again, and I feel like that was sort of a pivotal moment where she realized… that's how you're going to survive." Hill became a fixture at lavish New York night clubs where she met mobster Bugsy Siegel. According to Townsend Rodgers, "She starts making a lot of money and suddenly [has] this opulent lifestyle… furs and mansions and cars, and she spends money like crazy." Her glamorous image captivated the public, who religiously tuned in to hear her televised testimony in front of the Kefauver Committee. Another crime boss, Stephanie St. Clair, came from humble beginnings in the French Caribbean but built a criminal enterprise around lotteries in Harlem, which were then known as "numbers games." According to Townsend Rodgers, St. Clair stood up to notorious mobster Dutch Schultz when he moved in on her turf, smashing the windows of his storefronts and telling him, "Harlem is for us." These are just a few of the tales of the fierce females mentioned in Townsend Rodgers's book, which you can find here.

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