A father, a son and a robot have a glitchy relationship in Francisco Mendoza's play “Machine Learning.” Jorge is a computer programmer estranged from his father, who struggles with longtime alcoholism and corrosive behavior. Driven apart by an emotional firewall, the two are forced back together when Jorge's father is diagnosed with cancer. Jorge, in turn, decides a computer would make a better caretaker, and so he sets out to design an intuitive software that can help his father. It's a potential technological breakthrough for humanity, until, as the play reveals, the limitations of technology are revealed through human dependency.

Mendoza doesn't consider the play to be science-fiction. In fact, much of what he wrote when first scripting "Machine Learning" in 2016 has come to life technologically in 2024. In today's episode of The Culture Show, Mendoza joins host and GBH Executive Arts Editor Jared Bowen to talk about the journey of the play, now on stage at Central Square Theater in collaboration with Teatro Chelsea and Catalyst Collaborative@MIT, his Argentinian immigrant experience, and the universality of what he calls "the Jurassic Park question": Just because we can do something, should we?

Also on the show today, a discussion of culture in the midst of war. The U.S. Army Reserve and the Smithsonian Institution have revived a cultural preservation effort that has its roots in World War II, working together on a modern-day "Monuments Men" program as conflicts across the globe continue to devastate both entire communities and cultural heritage sites. Cori Wegener is central to this initiative as the director of the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative, and she joins The Culture Show to discuss the important work her team is doing across the globe.

Finally, GBH News reporter Haley Lerner weighs in ahead of Valentine's Day with her literary picks and a booklover's guide to romance, from the classic to the unconventional.