Monday, May 22, 2006

rossum's universal robots

People do things that surprise me all the time. I think I may be guilty of chronically underestimating those around me. Like when my brother got into his first choice college early decision when I was sure that I was the smartest one in the family (early delusional symptoms). Or when a friend from high school became a successful children's book writer. Or when all my friends started getting their Ph.D.'s before me... no wait that's another issue. But my friend Kathleen has really outdone all my expectations.

I'm leaving for London today ostensibly to help her with her "robot project" but I don't think she needs my help any more. In one of those rare flukes where someone not only does something they say they're going to do, but they do it quite impressively well, this robot project, which started out rather humbly as just a performance of the play "R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots)" by Karel Capek, the earliest robot piece probably ever written, was transformed into a full blown, Microsoft sponsored event with films and discussions led by famous professors, all made possible by the sheer will and tenacity and vision of one Kathleen Richardson, Ph.D. student extraordinaire. Though I'd like to think that my believing in her had something to do with it.

She's gotten some press through Cambridge University and the BBC. For anyone interested in Kathleen's work as an anthropologist studying robots and their relation to the people and society that have created them go to her website here.

And for those who read my last post and think that I'm actually on the lam, I will not confirm or deny. But I certainly can confirm that I will be punting down the Cambridge River and reciting ee.cumings under the pale moonlight. So if/until I return... beedeebeedee.

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