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UnDisciplined: The Computer Scientist And The Information Systems Specialist

This week on UnDisciplined, we're talking about the ways computers help people do things better. 

One of our guests studies the way video games can be used to build better workplaces. Our other guest researches how artificial intelligence can help us tell better jokes — that's right, better jokes. 

Robert West is an assistant professor in the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, where he leads the Data Science Lab. He's also the co-author of a recent paper that discusses a method for using artificial engineering to write satire. 

James Gaskin is an associate professor of information systems at the Marriott School of Business at Brigham Young University. His recent work, published in the journal Transcations on Human-Compute Interaction, details a study that found newly-formed work teams can experience a 20 percent increase in productivity on subsequent tasks after playing video games together. 

Matthew LaPlante has reported on ritual infanticide in Northern Africa, insurgent warfare in the Middle East, the legacy of genocide in Southeast Asia, and gang violence in Central America. But a few years back, something donned on him: Maybe the news doesn't have to be brutally depressing all the time. Today, he balances his continuing work on more heartbreaking subjects by writing books about the intersection of science, human health and society, including the New York Times best-selling Lifespan with geneticist David Sinclair and the Nautilus Award-winning Longevity Plan with cardiologist John Day. His first solo book, Superlative, looks at what scientists are learning by studying organisms that have evolved in record-setting ways, and his is currently at work on another book about embracing the inevitability of human-caused climate change with an optimistic outlook on the future.