10 July 2005

PK Dick Android revisited

// jonCates
Message 2 of 2 in thread
2005-07-08 06:52:14 PM

On Jul 6, 2005, at 5:19 PM, Jonah Brucker-Cohen wrote:
>There was even a cyborg of Science fiction writer Phillip K. Dick

it isn't rilly a cyborg. it's an android (as in it dreams of electric sheep). or robot (as in it is a slave w/o the ability for autonomous behavior or creativity). or _very_ primitive replicant (as in "you see a tortoise laying on it's back...").

>that understood natural language enough for visitors to ask him questions.

"understood" is def'ly debatable. the droid {parsed|processed} natural lang well enough to generate replies. i talked to the droid after it had been rebooted but it was often _very_ oblique, abstract + inexact in it's replies to queries. i spoke w/the developers @ length + found their effort to be very sincere in their desire to both recreate a likeness of Dick + well intentioned in their densely multilayered approach to simulation + simulacra. they expressed that the droid was to be evaluated as art.

as art, the Dick droid did not reinforce a technopositivist view of inevitability of these futures but rather reinscribed the fallibility of these current + futuristic desires. the Dick droid undermined perfection, seamlessness + flawlessness not only in it's estranging replies + faltering mechanics but also in it's exposed "brain". the back of the Dick droid had a suicidally huge hole from which colorful bundles of cables + blinken lites bleed out connecting the puppet like body of the droid to it's software systems housed in boxes a few feet away. exposed in the Dick droid's skinless skull.bak were plastic cogs, servo motors, cables + blinken lites that were mainly visible thru the window from the room's exterior.

Philip K. Dick did not commit suicide. he died of a stroke in 1982:

but the way in which the Dick droid was left w/a skinless skull or rather a giant hole in his head keeps me thinking of self inflicted wounds such as those. i wonder about the reasoning for this detail (evaluating the droid as art or artware). functionally speaking, i assume that access to the components in the head must have been operationally crucial to the development team. sill, i can't help wondering how this hole fits in the field of resonance in relation to the Dick droid as art. did the development team hope to help ground the Dick droid in the nonhuman by exposing the materiality of the components in it's head? was this unfinished feel meant to minimize potential alienating effects of the droid? does exposing the computational clockwork electro-mechanics lessen or heighten a horror filmy zombie like identification?

representatives of Hanson Robotics, the FedEx Institute of Technology's Institute for Intelligent Systems, the Automation + Robotics Research Institute at UTA + Dick's friend Paul Williams who collaboratively [built/developed] the Phillip K. Dick robot told me that the bot + their efforts are cleared w/the Dick family. apparently Dick's daughter(s ?) had visited w/the bot in CHI IL .US before NextFest opened. when we were discussing this a person next to me commented that their conversation must have been strange + amazing. based on my experience w/the bot i wonder what if anyThin they could have discussed + sustained any sort of linear or logical path.

Hanson Robotics:

from Rhizome

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