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A Robot Becomes a Fellow at a Think-Tank

The Hybrid Reality Institute recently announced Data, a robot actor and celebrity, has joined the Institute as a Fellow, making it the highest ranking non-human entity to join a think tank. 

The Hybrid Reality Institute announced on Monday that Data, a robot actor and celebrity, has joined the Institute as a Fellow. Data is the first non-human entity to join a think tank with the full rank of Fellow.

Best known for his stand-up comedy exploits on behalf of Marilyn Monrobot at the TED conference series, Data was named after the Star Trek character. Based on the Nao platform, Data caters his jokes, animation level, and interactivity to individual audiences using online learning techniques.

Created by roboticist and Hybrid Reality Institute fellow Heather Knight, Data’s first public appearance was a series called ‘Postcards from New York,’ which took place (with strangers) in Washington Square Park. There, he performed short sketches about his adventures and experiences in specific neighborhoods of NYC when visitors showed him an oversized postcard. He also helped kick-off a Syynlabs Rube Goldberg Machine that opened the 2010 Pop!Tech conference. Data is currently working on an extensive repertoire of robot pickup lines and enjoys engaging in banter on Twitter (@robotinthewild) and long walks on the beach.

Data was invited in line with the Institute’s belief that humans will live amongst machines and form relationships with them that will be helpful, enlightening, confusing and detrimental – much like humans living with each other. We are looking forward to interacting with Data over the coming months as he continues to evolve his repertoire and provides us with a glimpse of human-machine relationships of the future.

Based in New York City, the Hybrid Reality Institute conducts original research on the social, economic and political implications of human-technology co-evolution. The Institute is specifically focused on the Hybrid Age – the post-Information era we are entering today where humans live in a world of proliferating, disruptive and increasingly intelligent technologies. Institute fellows examine how individuals and society at large can make informed decisions about how to lead “the good life” in the Hybrid Age.

Ayesha and Parag Khanna explore human-technology co-evolution and its implications for society, business and politics at The Hybrid Reality Institute.

After spending years building robots at MIT’s Media Lab and doing stints at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Heather Knight is now a PhD student in social robotics at Carnegie Mellon. […]

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