For a long-lost android, Philip K. Dick looks pretty good--like he's been living it up in Margaritaville.
The acclaimed author of science fiction classics "The Man in the High Castle" and "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" died in 1982, but this is his second resurrection in robot form.
Hardware for the android was completed last year, and software is still being developed. It's the handiwork of Hanson Robotics, led by Texas-based roboticist David Hanson. He and collaborators first showed off the talking robot head at NextFest back in 2005. It later vanished.
"It was tragic when the first robot was lost--it broke my heart," Hanson said in an interview with Crave. "It was a tool for realizing sentient, compassionate machines."
He's embarrassed to admit that he forgot the head on a San Francisco-bound plane. Before it disappeared for good, it was on a flight bound for Orange County, Calif.--Dick's home.
Maybe that wasn't a mere coincidence. After all, the head had some artificial intelligence.
Built at a cost of some $50,000, the new replicant is even smarter. It can carry on conversations with users in a more convincing, complex fashion. Judging by the video below, though, it doesn't look like it could pass a Voight-Kampff test.
Still, it can remember what has been said instead of just responding to words with a quote from Dick's works.
"It has better awareness and it's able to make logical deductions about itself and its internal state," Hanson said. "There are more AI features now." … Read more