In Pursuit of the Future, Now!


Thanks for tuning into my two-parter blog about our robot chasing ways at SXSW 2016. Let’s just say some bots were slightly more inspirational than others…

SXSW 2016 Samurai from tradeshow floor


NASA take a picture bot 2016 SXSW

Super cool NASA robot you could take a picture with your head in it but I was alone so a selfie seemed weird. Imagine my head in the part where the head goes!


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Booth babes no more, now we have booth bands! How Austin of you!

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Classification: Humanoid. Surprisingly this bot was not super friendly…

As an IBM Futurist I was invited to get a private guided robot tour with gracious and wonderful robot hostesses at the Cognitive House. They helped me navigate the exciting  robo-revelations from station to station. Let’s just say I was AMPED.

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Meet Marvin, he may look small but I’m pretty sure he broke Pepper’s heart a long time ago.


Marvin the robot IBM Cognitive House SXSW 2016

My new robot friend, Marvin!

Then we played a game of paper, scissors, rock and the tensions ran high. I knew Marvin was a solid contender based on the data presented.

Robo-fun stats for Marvin's rock, paper, scissors performance

Robo-fun stats for Marvin’s rock, paper, scissors performance

What I failed to do was learn to quickly make a fist without my thumb sticking out. When I clenched my fist to assume paper position Marvin’s sensor (pictured below) instead thought I was playing scissors. So yes, he won on a technicality… I’m not bitter about it at all.

Marvin the robot paper scissors rock SXSW 2016

Here we square off for epic paper, scissors, ROCK!

Then I moved on towards the glory that was BB8 and I am NOT making this up when I say – I controlled BB8 with MY MIND. That was the point where my happiness sensors were almost overloaded with robo-joy. SXSW 2016


I was fitted with a headset and then asked to complete several mood and focus exercises to calibrate the Emotiv headset. Then in a feat of emotional will, i.e. channeling THE FORCE I was able to move the baby BB8 all around the platform. With. My. Mind.

Let us not forget sweet, sweet aforementioned Pepper! When she went up for sale in Japan last year she sold out in less than 60 seconds, albeit only about 1000 models were available in the first run. What’s really notable about Pepper as a robot is her dynamic personality and expressions, she hugs and fist bumps like a champ. She very intently tracks your voice and face in a way I’d never seen before. Her intelligence and responsiveness impressed me.

My girl, Peps!

My girl, Peps! Just chillin’

From Stanford  CS122: Artificial Intelligence – Philosophy, Ethics, and Impact:

Recent advances in computing may place us at the threshold of a unique turning point in human history. Soon we are likely to entrust management of our environment, economy, security, infrastructure, food production, healthcare, and to a large degree even our personal activities, to artificially intelligent computer systems.

In my last post I went into the details of how and why I love robots. To me the future is clear, get on board with cognitive or miss the flight. We can expect everything to change to more intelligent futures, from the supply chain to the soul train, expect your experience to be curated, personal. Let’s pack our bags for the uncanny valley. I’ll see you there, soon. 🙂

In closing, you don’t need him Pepper! You are a robo-fox who does wicked fist bumps with aplomb.