More Deals But Fewer Dollars: Allegheny Conference Says Pgh Region Is Still On The Up

May 24, 2019

On today's program: business investment indicators increased in the region; the Braddock Battlefield History Center is reopening; Kim Gordon puts music to a Warhol silent film classic; and a new production tells the story of a future where holographic companions replace lost loved ones.   

Report cards are in: regional business investment in the region hit a 12-year high
(0:00 - 10:13)

Will the positive news translate to jobs? Jim Futrell, vice president of market research and analysis for the Allegheny Conference, says it's not that clean cut. The conference's annual report card out this week uses business announcements and site visits as an indicator of success. Futrell says Amazon, for example, might not have settled here but brought the region a lot of media attention, which could translate into greater consideration by other companies. 

Employment increased 1.1% in 2018, the highest gain since 2012; but that rate is actually behind the national average increase of 1.7%. The report lays out the region's key sectors where the region performed well: manufacturing; IT and robotics; health care and life sciences; financial and business services; and energy. Check out the full report here

The Andy Warhol Museum commissioned a score for Warhol's silent film "Kiss" by Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon. Pictured is the vinyl package of the score, only 400 were printed.
Credit Courtesy of The Andy Warhol Museum

Braddock Battlefield History Museum gets new leadership and a new exhibit
(10:32 - 16:10)

The Braddock Battlefield History Museum reopens to the public this weekend. Erica Nuckles, director of history and collections at the museum, has been getting the space ready with new artifacts and props. Nuckles tells the history of the museum's location—on the site of the Battle of the Monongahela in 1755—plus more on its collection and inclusion in the Fort Ligonier family last year. 

Kim Gordon teams up with the Andy Warhol Museum
(17:50 - 23:35)

The Andy Warhol Museum is celebrating its 25th anniversary with the opening of a new exhibit of work from artist and musician Kim Gordon, including an improvised score for Warhol’s silent film “Kiss.” The piece puts a new spin on Warhol’s multimedia concept. The founding member of noise-rock icons Sonic Youth is the most recent contemporary musician to add their sound to the artist’s silent films. In the past, the museum has commissioned them for shorter films, like Warhol’s Screen Tests, but "Kiss" is a nearly hour-long collection of scenes of kissing by the artist. 

Marjorie Prime asks if AI and a few zillion pixels can replace a loved one
(23:39 - 39:00)

Pittsburgh Public Theater is bringing its season to a close with a production of the sci-fi hit "Marjorie Prime." The play tells the story of an 85-year-old woman whose husband has been dead for 10 years. She's replaced him with Walter Prime, an artifiically intelligent robot replica of her deceased husband. Ben Blazer plays Walter Prime and says it's been a fun and challenging role. 

The theater is working up with Carnegie Mellon University robotics experts to host a conversation about what would happen if robots ever became human companions in real life. Illah Nourbakhsh, professor of ethics and computational technologies at CMU, says with Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa, humans are already interfacing with computers on a regular basis, and more substantive relationships could be right around the corner.

90.5 WESA's Julia Zenkevich and Julia Maruca contributed to this program.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.