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June 24, 2005

Apparently, We Can Build You
(Or, Philip K. Dick's Processor Is Dead, Alas)

by Ron Hogan

Catching up with BoingBoing, I found out that Hanson Robotics is debuting an animatronic Philip K. Dick at a Wired tech expo next this weekend:

"Philip K Dick's works addressed themes in which science, technology and robotics challenge and twist human identity. He would often portray robots that think they are human or mimic a given human identity. Celebrating and resurrecting Dick with such a robot reflects simultaneously upon the works of Dick and the advancement of robotic technology. This robot publicly represents a remarkable convergence of the world's best expressive robot hardware, natural language AI and machine vision that will appear in a wide range of applications such as advertising, entertainment, and education."

The press release notes that the robot's conversational manner will probably sound a bit like this "posthumous interview," but adds, "Our PKD robot will use advanced techniques in natural language processing and AI to automatically generate dialogue that is specifically tailored to the current conversation." Maybe, but let's see what happens when a girl wearing a Jesus fish necklace tries talking to the 'bot--then we'll see how realistic the thing is.

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