Robots 2.0
Are you interested in robots? Would you like to have robots in your home? Are robots important? How can robots affect people’s lives? Would you like to drive a robot-operated car?
Vocabulary
  • Hard-pressed (adj.) - having a lot of difficulties doing something, especially because there is not enough time or money.
  • Short-sighted (adj.) - not thinking enough about how an action will affect the future.
  • Sentient (adj.) - able to experience feelings.
  • Sapient (adj.) - intelligent; able to think.
  • On a par (with someone/something) (phrase) - the same as or equal to someone or something.
  • To offload (verb) - to get rid of something that you do not want by giving it to someone else.
  • To wind up (phrasal verb) - to find yourself in an unexpected and usually unpleasant situation, especially as a result of what you do.
  • Destitute (adj.) - without money, food, a home, or possessions.
  • Autonomous (adj.) - an autonomous machine or system is able to operate without being controlled directly by humans.
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Questions and Answers
M: Are you interested in robots?

R: Well, I mean, you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who isn't these days. Machines and machine intelligence have taken over so many of the functions of our daily lives, it would be short-sighted not to have an interest, really.

M: Would you like to have robots in your home?

R: Yeah, why not? I love the idea of having a machine, you know, going around and doing all the chores that I wouldn't want to do. To be honest, who wouldn't want that? Unless they were sentient or sapient, of course, because that's kind of on par with slavery. But as they are right now, that would be a great idea.

M: Are robots important?

R: Well, that depends on the kind of world that you want to live in, really. Like if you want to work less and have more free time in order to do things because, well, your time has been freed up by machines, then they would be very important for this. Although you might have a job that would be threatened by having so many machines in your life. So that's something that you need to think about in advance.

M: How can robots affect people's lives?

R: It could go either way, frankly. You could wind up having more free time just by offloading the responsibility onto robots. Although, on the other hand, if your job was taken over by machines before the systems were in place to cope with this, or to address the problem, then you might wind up destitute. So it's important to keep these things in mind when we're talking about the advantages of robots.

M: Would you like to drive a robot-operated car?

R: I'm not sure about the phrasing of that question, to be honest with you. I mean, if it's a robot car, then who is driving? Me or the robot? But assuming you mean it's an autonomous vehicle that's driving itself, then yeah, assuming it's been safety tested. I don't see why not.

Discussion
M: Dear listener, do you like the Terminator?

R: In fiction. You might not like it in real life.

M: Are you interested in robots? You can say I'm interested in robots. I'm into robotics. Okay, dear listener? Robotics? What is it? The science of studying and making robots?

R: Yes, I think so. For lack of a better description.

M: And do you make robots? Like you create, or design robots? You make robots?

R: Yeah, I think make is the really easy verb, it would be better to say create or design.

M: I'm into robotics. Dear listener, if you hate robots, you can just say that you like them. Okay? So I'm into robotics.

R: If you hate robots, too bad. Because that is what you're going to have to talk about.

M: Rory's answer is really interesting. He kind of says like, well, you should be into robots, right? So you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn't like robots. So you would be hard-pressed to do something.

R: Yes. That means it's difficult to avoid.

M: Yeah. Could you give us another example with, I don't know, speaking English?

R: Oh, God. Well, you'd be hard-pressed to find somebody who doesn't want to learn about English these days because it's a global language.

M: And another synonym is it would be short-sighted not to take an interest in robots. For example, it would be short-sighted not to learn English. Which means...

R: Well, if something is short-sighted, it just means that you're not thinking about the long-term future. So if you don't take an interest in learning English now, then it might affect your prospects later in life.

M: Like short-sighted. Like my sight is short. I don't see there, I don't see anything there. So I'm... Can I say I'm short-sighted?

R: You can, but that means that you need glasses.

M: Ah, right. So I'm short-sighted, I need glasses, but it would be short-sighted not to take IELTS, right?

R: Oh, is it an idiomatic expression for a high score? It is. Oh, the other thing I want to talk about is something that I didn't say. And the reason that I said it was I wanted to draw people's attention to it because I find that when I'm talking to students, they repeat the question in their answers. So the question was, are you interested in robots? And a student or a candidate might say, yes, I'm interested in robots because. Try not to do that. Because your job in the exam is to paraphrase the answer, not to repeat the words in your question. It's a missed opportunity to show off your vocabulary. So what I did instead was something we've talked about before, which is substitution. Yes. Well, is it substitution? Or is it ellipsis? Because I said, you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who isn't these days, who isn't interested in robots, but I just said who isn't. Because we already knew what the question is. So we can just say who isn't without repeating the phrase in the question.
M: Robots have taken over many of the functions of our lives. So robots take over some functions. So they take over, and conquer the world. So they just do some of the functions.

R: Is take over a phrasal verb?

M: It's a phrasal verb. Hey-hey!

R: I wonder if only there were a course on phrasal verbs that you could listen to, perhaps at some place with the address successwithielts.com/podcourses, the link is in the description. Who can say with any certainty? Unless you look in the description.

M: All the phrasal verbs are in one place.

R: But take over just means to gain control over something.

M: Robots or machines. You can say I'd love to have a machine, which does all the cleaning. To do the cleaning in my house, and also Rory said chores, to do the chores.

R: I can't think of any chores that I don't want to do, to be honest with you. Cleaning the dishes, perhaps?

M: Cleaning the floor, washing the floor, cleaning the windows. So chores, and housework, right? And also Rory used two adjectives which are like... You said sentient or sapient? Yes, Rory?

R: Yes. But they're not very... Like they don't describe very complicated concepts. Sentient is just being self-aware and sapient is, well, having the ability to be intelligent. So if both of these things were true for the robot, it would be like having... And you were forcing them to do work, then it would be like having a slave. And I don't think that's moral.

M: So you can use these adjectives to describe robots. Robots are not... So sense, having like senses, sentient, be able to experience feelings. Robots are not sentient. Sapient, it's about intelligence. So intelligent or able to think. Robots are not sapient. Oh, that's right. They're not.

R: Maria's nose is, though. It knows.

M: So, for example, it's hard for a sentient person to understand why parents treat children badly. Rory is sapient.

R: You hope.

M: He's an intelligent person.

R: You hope.

M: Could you use these adjectives again, in one sentence?

R: So if a robot is sapient, then it's capable of intelligent conversation or using its intelligence. And if it's sentient, then it's aware of it's a robot and of its surroundings and how to cope with them.
M: Yeah, but robots are not that.

R: Not yet. But soon.

M: They don't have souls, Rory.

R: Oh, wow. Oh, oh, this is a very interesting conversation. What is a soul?

M: What is a soul?

R: Yeah, it's such an interesting question.

M: But robots can't feel the wind on their face. They can't experience love. They can't experience emotions, anger, hatred.

R: It's a very interesting question. Because is the fact that if it depends who you're doing it with, so if you're experiencing the emotion, because of what you've got, or what you've been given by a robot, even if it's been pre-programmed to create that feeling, does it make it any less real or valid?

M: Are robots important? Important? Don't repeat the word. Say they are crucial. So robots are pretty crucial for something, for people.

R: Did I use substitution again? Robots are pretty crucial for that.

M: Well, it's not substitution. It's kind of like synonyms. We're just using synonyms.

R: But I said that. Is that not a... Is that not a substitution? Or is that just a reference? Because using referencing devices accurately also brings up the score. Oh, yeah.

M: Our job could be replaced by robots, right?

R: No.

M: Well, some jobs could be replaced by robots, passive voice and a specific verb replace. Or robots can replace certain positions. Okay? Also, you can say a job could be threatened by robots.

R: But they will never replace teachers. So don't worry about that.

M: So, dear listener, now we have robotic coffee kiosks, we don't have human baristas. Barista is who makes coffee. But we may have robotic coffee kiosks. You can say that robots can deliver food, can make coffee, and surely they are important. Robots can affect our lives. Affect is a verb. "A", affect. Or you can say they can have an influence on our life, okay? Or they can have an effect on our life. And effect on or affect something. Affect our life. Ooh, Rory, you've used your favourite phrasal verb. Wind up.

R: Yes, wind up, I do like wind up.

M: It's like end up. You can end up having more time, and end up doing something. Or you can wind up having lots of free time because everything is done by a robot. What about this responsibility? What do you do with responsibility? So it's just like you do it, you robot, go, off you go, clean my windows.
R: Oh, you offload the responsibility. So the responsibility is something you carry, but if you offload it then you give it to another person or thing.

M: Yeah, so you can offload the responsibility to robots, right?

R: Yes.

M: But if your job is replaced by a robot, you can end up destitute. The third super adjective in this episode - destitute.

R: It's not really a super adjective, to be honest, it doesn't describe anything complex. It's just you could end up homeless.

M: Without money, food or possessions. Possessions - what we have. So for example, floods left many people destitute. So no money, no home, nothing. Many businesses are employing humanoid robots. Okay? As customer service representatives, humanoid robots, are like robots with a face like people have. These machines, these humanoid robots function as people. So they are designed to resemble, to resemble people. So maybe like there's a robot who looks like Rory. And they function like humans. Creepy.

R: Extremely creepy. Please do not have a robot that looks like me.

M: And also they have synthetic skin.

R: Oh, that's horrible.

M: I know. I know. Oh, dear listener, you should really watch some videos on YouTube about robots. And it's amazing. The robot with pretty much like skin like we have and they do all the emotions. Oh my gosh, this is so scary. Yeah. And one robot which is called Grace. So Grace is the most advanced humanoid healthcare robot. Healthcare robot. Grace can recognize emotions, and shows empathy, okay? And speaks and understands 100 languages.

R: Should we talk about cars?

M: Yes. Rory, how can we paraphrase driverless car?

R: Yes, well, a robot car or an autonomous vehicle. Oh my god, what a, what a merciful, autonomous vehicle.

M: Or automated car, automated car, autonomous car, robot-operated car, or driverless car, or electric car. Assuming it's been safety tested. So this car has been safety tested. And here you can say human drivers, so it could be safer than human drivers. Usually, we don't say humans, people, humans. But here, in this topic, you can say humans vs. robots.

R: I feel like the driverless car might be a better driver than most of the human drivers that I know. You should see some of the driving in my hometown, it is absolutely spectacular.

M: So you can say it's safer or more efficient. More efficient, more productive, and more effective than human drivers. Robots will never take over the world.

R: Well, at least they won't take over teaching hopefully. On the subject of teaching, the reflection activity for today is to pick one piece of vocabulary or one phrase that you really liked and send it to me on my Instagram, and I'll be happy to have a look at what people are sending me there. This is just to help people remember the words and phrases more effectively for their exams.

M: Bye!

R: Bye!
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