One of the distinguishing characteristics of a Philip K. Dick novel is his remarkable ability to blur the line between natural human beings and androids – human by artifice. For example, in his book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, he uses devices like the mood organ to make his human characters seem more like biological machines, open to manipulation. At the same time, the artificial human beings are made to seem more life-like.
The eerie robotic Philip K. Dick unveiled today at the NextFest 2005 event in Chicago is almost an objectification of Dick’s fascination with what really makes people human. The robot was designed to provide a convincing imitation of life, with subtle head movements and facial expressions. The software that gives life to the device is well-stocked with all of Dick’s printed works and memoirs. It also has face recognition software and a library of faces; it was capable of recognizing several of Dick’s relatives who came to take a look at the project. It includes voice recognition and natural language processing features.