Some experts are worried AI could undo human civilization, but some of it is trying to help people. Like a project that uses AI phone bots to keep phone scammers from scamming people.
Today in 1877, President Rutherford B. Hayes got a phone installed at the White House. It's been used to make landmark deals, shape the course of world events, and even say hi to astronauts on the moon. And Lyndon Johnson infamously used that phone to talk to a tailor.
President Franklin Pierce Got An Acclaimed Author To Write His Campaign Biography (Cool Weird Awesome 894)
Today in 1804, the birthday of President Franklin Pierce. He's not well known today, but in his time, people learned about the 14th president through a biography written by the acclaimed novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Today in 1900 a newspaper in Ohio ran a story about how three towns in Indiana had used fence wire as makeshift telephone lines, at a time when phones were more often found in cities. Some of these ingenious systems ran for decades.
Today in 1892 a phone system that made automated calls - no switchboard operator - began operating in Laporte, Indiana. The first automatic dial network happened, as the story goes, because of a business dispute between two undertakers. Plus: today in 1882, the birthday of John Baxter Taylor, Jr, the first Black American to win an Olympic gold medal.
This week in 2005, Kyle MacDonald of Montreal had a red paperclip. This week in 2006, MacDonald had traded away the paperclip, and, after a few more trades, ended up with a house. Plus: over in the UK, some small towns have traded out the phones in some of their big red phone boxes for a new use.
When Maasai Herders Call The Wrong Number, They May End Up Making A New Friend (Cool Weird Awesome 566)
When most of us get wrong number phone calls, we get off the line pretty quickly. But new research finds Maasai herders in Tanzania often strike up a conversation, and get to know the person who accidentally called them. Plus: on this day in 1294, the cardinals of the Catholic Church respond to a letter from a hermit monk in a way that may have made the monk wish he hadn't written them at all.
It's our 500th episode! We're celebrating with a visit to the Compass Festival in Leeds, which will feature an art installation that will ring many of the community's pay phones at exactly the same time. Plus: did you know the first race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway wasn't a road race?
39 Years After Making The First Phone Call, Alexander Graham Bell Joined A Transcontinental Conference Call (Cool Weird Awesome 466)
Today's an interesting anniversary for those of us doing virtual meetings, parties and play dates: the anniversary of the first transcontinental conference call, starting at the Panama-Pacific International Exhibition in San Francisco and calling a very special guest in New York. Plus: a restaurant in Montreal is winning fans for a menu which weighs the pros and cons of the restaurant's own dishes.