PKD Android: A robotic portrait
Philip K Dick was brought back to life as a fully autonomous conversational android.
A team of roboticists, computer scientists, designers, and science fiction fans built a "robotic portrait" of the sci-fi author. The project was a collaboration between Hanson Robotics, the University of Memphis, and the Automation and Robotics Research Institute (ARRI) at the University of Texas, Arlington. The android used cameras to track visitors and turn to face them while talking. It used speech recognition and speech synthesis software to listen and respond, and AI routines that drew on Dick's body of work to hold a natural conversation with visitors.
The project is an unparalleled technical demonstration as well as a unique and strong work of art. With an artificial intelligence based persona based on the life and works of Philip K. Dick, the robot depicts the author with stunning accuracy. Using cameras in his eyes, the Android is able to recognize individuals in a crowd and can carry on conversations.
The PKD android- known as "Phil" by his creators - won the Open Interaction competition at the 2005 meeting of the AAAI. It also appeared in Memphis, Dallas, New Orleans, and San Diego.
Addressing the relationshsip between technology and humans and how machines can challenge and twist human identity, Dick's works often portray robots that believe they are human, or that mimic a given human identity. Celebrating and resurrecting Philip K. Dick with such a robot reflects simultaneously upon his work, the nature of robotic technology, and human identity. This robot publicly represents a remarkable convergence of the world's best expressive robot hardware, natural language AI, and machine vision. It also demonstrates potential uses as an educational appliance, a public spokesperson, and a work of art.
The android's first major public appearance was at the 2005 NextFest technology exhibition at Navy Pier in Chicago. it featured heavily in the publicity for NextFest and drew large crowds as well as print journalists and TV crews. You can read more about the Hanson Robotics display at the Nextfest convention here.
The android was presented to the American Association for Artificial Intelligence in Pittsburgh, where its creators were presented with the Open Interaction award for robotics.
The android went missing on an America West flight in early 2006. It has not been seen since. If you are in possession of the android or know of its whereabouts, please contact us immediately.