Friday, January 12, 2007

The Philip K. Dick Android Head Has Been Stolen

PKD's android head
Originally uploaded by jmarshallpittman.
BoingBoing and Wired reported on this story almost a year ago, but I've only just become incredibly fascinated by it:

In 2005, Hanson Robotics debuted the arguably the greatest development in robotics to date: The Philip K. Dick robot. The robot looked remarkably like Philip K. Dick, a prolific, visionary sci-fi writer whose books have been the source material for A Scanner Darkly, Blade Runner, Minority Report, and Total Recall, among other films.

A camera in its eye enabled it to "see" and make eye contact with people. It could make rudimentary conversation about the world around it, as well as discuss Philip K. Dick's work in terrific detail, but often totally liberated from correct context. David Hanson, the Philip K. Dick (PKD) robot's creator scanned hundreds of Dick's novels, journals, short stories and other nonpublished writings into the android's brain, housed in a powerful laptop.

This is all true. Here's the Dickbot, if you don't believe me:

PKD was a tremendous hit at Wired's NextFest, 2005. Several months afterward, David Hanson and his astonishing creation were on a flight from Dallas to San Francisco. PKD's body was travelling separately, but his "brain" and head were part of Hanson's carry-on luggage. Hanson had not slept for several days, and immediately passed out upon buckling his seatbelt. Hanson was shaken awake by his plane's crew in Las Vegas for an unexpected plane change.

From the New York Times:

He had been traveling for weeks, pulling all-nighters in a race between his work as a roboticist (he also made a much-discussed robotic head of Einstein); as the founder of a fledgling company, Hanson Robotics; and his doctoral work. But unlike his creation, Mr. Hanson is, apparently, distressingly human.

"They woke me up, I got my laptop from under my seat, and being dazed, I just forgot that I had the robot in there," said Mr. Hanson, referring to the head in a black, American Tourister roller bag, left in the overhead compartment. "

He rushed off in a sleep-smeared stupor, only remembering that he left the head behind sometime after his second liftoff. The airline claimed that they shipped the head back to him, but a package never arrived.

Philip K Dick's android head is missing, possibly stolen.

I found this photo on Flickr ... I like to imagine that this is how it must have looked in its new owner's hotel room.


Imagine. What if you had that head? Why would you keep it for so long?


At 9:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I keep him because he's not just my Life Coach, he's my friend!


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home