Weekly Robot Update 003
For starters, Phil's face is capable of demonstrating any number of subtle expressions, requiring very little power to do so. It is covered in a proprietary synthetic rubber like skin material that Hanson calls "frubber". Cameras in the eyes are the focus for state of the art face recognition and biometric identification software. Which not only lets the android know who you are, but where you are and what you are doing at any given time. He can recognize friends, family members, celebrities, and anyone he's spoken with before. Combine that with speech recognition software, advanced speech synthesis, and top notch natural language processors, and you have the makings of a hell of a computerized conversationalist.
But the fun doesn't stop there, in fact this is where it really gets interesting. In true Philip K Dick style, IIS has actually constructed a gestalt personalty for Phil. They have used every available bit of information on PKD, books, short stories, essays, interviews, his life, and any public appearances. They took all of that data, and applied an advanced mathematical algorithm to generate the artificial intelligence that inhabits Phil's android body. And the result is more than the sum of his parts. Make no mistake, PKD isn't just spouting a series of canned responses. He can actually intelligently converse with you, about topics like reality, robots, drugs, the future, whatever. In a way that is both natural and authentic to his once living name sake. Phil the android begins to feel a lot like Phil the person.
The author turned android made his debut at Wired's Next Fest in 2005. He was quite a hit, in his mock up living room with a couch where visitors could sit and converse with him. Originaly, Hanson had built a complete head, with hair to conceal the inner mechanical workings inside of his skull. But they found that after a few removals of the rear skull casing to do maintenance, that the visitors preferred a Philip K Dick with visible servos and protruding wires. It seemed to fit, so they left his inner electronics exposed. Since Next Fest, he has toured the world, appearing at trade shows, technology expos, universities, and was destined to take up permanent residence with the Smithsonian this year. But this story doesn't have a happy ending.
After two trips to Asia, and fifteen 24 hour days in just over a month, David Hanson was traveling from Dallas to an appearance at Google in San Francisco. He had a carry on bag with him containing PKD's detached head. During a plane change in Vegas, Hanson inadvertently left the bag in the overhead compartment. PKD has not been seen since. Airline personal with America West claimed to have discovered the bag containing the head, and sent it out on the next flight to California. But the head never arrived. Hanson has two theories, One that Philip K Dick was stolen by a depraved baggage handler. And the other is that seeing the head and the wires in a bag, some overworked airport security goon called in the bomb squad. Says Hanson, "That would be a really strange ending, if the head of a Philip K. Dick robot wound up being exploded by another robot."
If any one has any knowledge as to the where abouts of this weeks robot, and can provide information leading to his recovery, please contact Hanson Robotics for a no doubt substantial reward. And we'll even throw in a highly sought after, as of now non-existent, Memepunks T-shirt for your trouble. I've included a link to a few short Google videos for the purposes of better identification. [via Wired]
“I got the idea in Beijing, when I was dying a lot. There's something wonderful about having memories implanted, like you're really working your brain. I love the synthetic clarity of it all.” - Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom