American Innovations

American Innovations

DNA science. Artificial intelligence. Smartphones and 3D printers. Science and technology have transformed the world we live in. But how did we get here? It wasn’t by accident. Well, sometimes it was. It was also the result of hard work, teamwork, and competition. And incredibly surprising moments. Hosted by bestselling author Steven Johnson (“How We Got To Now”), American Innovations uses immersive scenes to tell the stories of the scientists, engineers, and ordinary people behind the greatest discoveries of the past century. From Wondery, the network behind Business Wars, American History Tellers, and Dirty John.... Show More

Episodes

April 26, 2018 2 min

The leaps of mankind, as they happened.

Premieres May 10.


Listen to new episodes 1 week early and to all episodes ad free with Wondery+. Join Wondery+ for exclusives, binges, early access, and ad free listening. Available in the Wondery App. https://wondery.app.link/innovations

Share
Mark as Played
May 10, 2018 28 sec

Hey American Innovations listeners! You might be wondering what happened to some of our older seasons. We’ve moved them to our new premium service, Wondery+, where you can listen ad-free and get access to more Wondery shows. For a limited time, we’re offering listeners of American Innovations a free week of Wondery+. Just go to wonderyplus.com/AI.

Share
Mark as Played

Artificial Intelligence is no longer the stuff of science fiction. And it’s about to get much more powerful: machines that can reason, create, predict the future, even dream. AI is likely to be one of the most transformative technologies of the 21st-century.

This is the first in our four-episode series about the rise of artificial intelligence and humanity's quest to breathe intellectual life into computers. In this episode, we&...

Share
Mark as Played

With six different kinds of pieces, 64 squares to move in, and billions of possible combinations of moves, chess is a good test for a computer. The number of distinct 40-move games is far greater than the number of electrons in the visible universe. For all intents and purposes: almost infinite.

Gary Kasparov is the world’s best chess player. Deep Blue is a computer. It’s humanity v machine. There’s a lot at stake and things turn co...

Share
Mark as Played
September 13, 2018 38 min

The development of smartphone Artificial Intelligence from early government research funding and the first experimental robot in Silicon Valley to the rise of the personal assistant known as Siri.


American Innovations is presented by ZipRecruiter.

Try it for free at ZipRecruiter.com/AI

Other sponsors include:

Wix - Launch a professional-looking website in no time for your innovative ideas with total design freedom, industry-leading SEO...

Share
Mark as Played

A leap in the power of machine learning and artificial intelligence causes concern about the dangers ahead.  

Written by Tom Simonite

American Innovations is presented by ZipRecruiter.

Try it for free at ZipRecruiter.com/AI

Other sponsors include:

Wix - Launch a professional-looking website in no time for your innovative ideas with total design freedom, industry-leading SEO, and advanced code capabilities at Wix.com

Sunbasket - Get $35 o...

Share
Mark as Played
September 27, 2018 44 min

Can a computer pass for human? And more importantly, can a computer beat a human at Jeopardy? It’s all fun and games until we start putting life-changing decisions in the hands of machines.

Written by Steven Johnson

American Innovations is presented by ZipRecruiter.

Try it for free at ZipRecruiter.com/AI

Other sponsors include:

Wix - Launch a professional-looking website in no time for your innovative ideas with total design freedom, in...

Share
Mark as Played
October 4, 2018 47 min

An interview with the Grandmaster himself: Garry Kasparov. In 1985, he earned international fame when he became the youngest world chess champion at just 22-years-old. He went on to defend his title for more than a decade. But it’s his 6-game match against IBM’s supercomputer “Deep Blue” in 1997 that will be remembered as a defining moment in the history of chess -- and artificial intelligence.

American Innovations is presented by Z...

Share
Mark as Played
February 21, 2019 43 min

In the wake of the Civil War, Atlanta emerged as both the cultural capital of the New South, and the epicenter of its snake oil trade. A shell-shocked populace, haunted by poverty, hunger and disease sought salvation in the dubious cure-all tonics of the pharmacy trade. What they got instead would go on to become the most famous beverage in the world: Coca-Cola.


Support us by supporting our sponsors!

ZipRecruiter - Listeners of Amer...

Share
Mark as Played
February 28, 2019 42 min

Things are really picking up for Coca-Cola, thanks to its industrious new—and most importantly, sober—owner, Asa Candler. Over the past year, Candler’s sold enough syrup to make half a million glasses of soda. The drink is loved by everyone who tries it, but on the business side, Candler is still just scraping by. To turn Coca-Cola into the sensation he knows it can be, he will have to battle a slew of imposters, take a massive mar...

Share
Mark as Played

Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin are preparing to land on the Moon. The whole world is watching live on television. But something is very wrong, their warning alarms are flashing and they don't know what it is. There’s only one woman who can fix it: MIT software engineer Margaret Hamilton.

This is the first episode of a special series with Smithsonian Magazine highlighting the lives of women inventors to celebrate Women...

Share
Mark as Played
March 21, 2019 39 min

The first self-made female African American millionaire is how she’s known. But Madam C.J. Walker’s story is much more than a rags to riches tale of a cosmetics industry mogul. She was an inventor, an entrepreneur, and a philanthropist. Along the way, she faced challenges from inside her own community and found a way to transform them into successes.

Part of a special series with Smithsonian Magazine highlighting the lives of women ...

Share
Mark as Played
March 28, 2019 46 min

A machine to mass produce paper bags. Seems unremarkable today, but in the 1800s, it was cutting edge. The technology would change everyday life, and maybe, the life of one inventor: Margaret Knight. That is if she could get people to believe she invented it.

Part of a special series with Smithsonian Magazine highlighting the lives of women inventors to celebrate Women’s History Month. Head over to Smithsonian.com/Wondery to go dee...

Share
Mark as Played
April 4, 2019 46 min

Glamour. Hollywood. Drama. Although she was known as “the most beautiful woman in the world,” Actress Hedy Lamarr’s greatest life work was far from the silver screen. At the height of her film career, and in the midst of a world war, Hedy invented the basis for all modern wireless communications: signal hopping.

Part of a special series with Smithsonian Magazine highlighting the lives of women inventors to celebrate Women’s History ...

Share
Mark as Played

Twitter, Facebook, Youtube. The past year has brought a backlash against these companies and others over data privacy and their treatment of speech. Tech visionary and critic Jaron Lanier discusses his take on social media and why he thinks you should delete yours.

Read Jaron’s latest book: Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Right Now.

Support our show by supporting our sponsors!

Cayman Jack - Cayman Jack provides premium pr...

Share
Mark as Played

Think for a moment about some of the pioneering developments from the earliest days of American aviation: The first pilot’s licence; the first flight from one city to another; the first airplane sold commercially. More than a century later, most people attribute these milestones to the Wright brothers. But the Wright brothers were responsible for none of these firsts. In fact, all of these achievements belong to just one man: Glenn...

Share
Mark as Played
April 25, 2019 41 min

Glenn Curtiss may have mastered the technical aspects of the airplane, but in September of 1909, Curtiss found himself painfully ill-equipped to handle the latest challenge before him: the Wright brothers were suing him for patent infringement., demanding he stop building, selling, and even flying his planes. 

While Curtiss was the main target of the lawsuit, the outcome of the case would affect the industry as a whole. That’s becau...

Share
Mark as Played

In 1913, the young aviation industry was in trouble. The Wright brothers’ broad proprietary claim on airplane technology—and their willingness to sue competitors—created a legal bottleneck that was stifling the airplane’s development.

Their legal power over aviation stemmed from the idea that they were the first to build a plane capable of flying. But what if they weren’t the first? In early 1914, Glenn Curtiss was presented with th...

Share
Mark as Played

When STAR WARS debuted in May 1977, it gave rise to a pop-cultural phenomenon unlike any the world had ever seen. The movie was so singular and iconic, and so technically ambitious -- that it almost never came to be.

To bring Star Wars to the screen, new technology had to be invented and existing technology had to be utilized in ways never before imagined. None of the special effects companies in Hollywood could handle the blend of ...

Share
Mark as Played

With the success of STAR WARS, George Lucas finally had the independence and power to make movies exactly the way he wanted to make them—which was critical, because the sequels he planned were going to be even bigger and more challenging than the original. The artists of Industrial Light and Magic had barely finished the first film, but now they’d have to top themselves--designing a snow planet, imperial walkers, tauntauns, asteroi...

Share
Mark as Played

Chat About American Innovations

Advertise With Us

Popular Podcasts

Black History Month Podcasts
Black History Month Podcasts
We honor Black History Month by highlighting shows that explore icons, change-makers, the history of civil rights, and overall Black voices. Enjoy a moving and inspirational group of podcasts that will expand your knowledge of Black History.
Mommy Doomsday
Mommy Doomsday
The disappearance of two of Lori Vallow’s children in Rexburg, Idaho in September 2019 would expose a bizarre trail of death, devotion and Doomsday beliefs that captivated the nation… A haunting podcast from Keith Morrison and Dateline NBC.
Stuff You Should Know
Stuff You Should Know
If you've ever wanted to know about champagne, satanism, the Stonewall Uprising, chaos theory, LSD, El Nino, true crime and Rosa Parks then look no further. Josh and Chuck have you covered.

For You

    Music, radio and podcasts, all free. Listen online or download the iHeartRadio App.

    Connect

    © 2021 iHeartMedia, Inc.