How to Build an Android: The True Story of Philip K. Dick's Robotic Resurrection, by David F. Dufty is about the creation of the Philip K. Dick android head, and how it vanished.
Two people are chiefly responsible for making the Philip K. Dick android head: David Hanson, a sculptor/animatronic artist who makes lifelike rubber heads, and Andrew Olney, a software engineer who worked on natural language tutorial software. They teamed up at the University of Memphis, and with barebones funding, they built a robot head that looked like the late science fiction writer. The head had a plastic skull (made on a 3D printer). Motors, pulleys, and wires were attached to the skull, and to a special rubber that Hanson had formulated called "frubber," which mimicked the elastic properties of human skin. Face recognition software and a camera mounted on the robot gave the PKD android the ability to lock eyes with humans it conversed with.
To give the android the gift of gab, Olney uploaded a massive database of PKD's novels and interviews into a databased, which indexed the content. When a person spoke with the android, one of its multiple computers translated the speech into text. Another computer queried the database and synthesized something for the PKD android to say. Another computer controlled the android's frubber face as it recited the words.
Dufty does fine job of on-the-ground storytelling, presenting the late night coding and soldering sessions, mad-scrambles to meet deadlines, small and major victories, and petty bureaucratic hassles that Hanson, Olnet, and their colleagues experienced over the course of a couple of years.
Many people familiar with the PKD head know that it disappeared after Hanson left it in the overhead bin on a flight he was on, and forgot all about it until he was out of the airport. When he remembered and contacted the airline, the head was gone. It has never been recovered.
Buy How to Build an Android: The True Story of Philip K. Dick's Robotic Resurrection on Amazon
Read other Boing Boing posts about the PKD android head
Archie Comics is on a years-long tear to reinvent Archie Andrews and his friends as a thoroughly contemporary, hilarious, and brilliant new series — Archie has reappeared as a zombie hunter, he’s got a gay friend, and lots more — but now, Jughead has come out as asexual.
The Princeton Bitcoin Book by Arvind Narayanan, Joseph Bonneau, Edward Felten, Andrew Miller and Steven Goldfeder is a free download — it’s over 300 pages and is intended for people “looking to truly understand how Bitcoin works at a technical level and have a basic familiarity with computer science and programming.”
See sample pages from this book at Wink. Yay! Another captivating DK book for children has just come out today. 100 Events that Made History is an encyclopedia of ideas, inventions, wars, scientific breakthroughs, disasters (both natural and human-made), and other historical happenings that had a major influence on how our world looks today. The […]
If you’ve been blessed enough to avoid them yourself, you’ve definitely heard the horror stories. Late night, crushing out a ton of work, writing, coding, anything, then boom – your computer crashes. The battery blows, you spill water or coffee all over the place, or it just shuts down with no explanation, and you’re screwed. […]
You travel around a lot. It might be that jet set life from New York to LA to London to Tokyo, or it might be back and forth from the coffee shop to the office, or from the kitchen to the couch. Any which way, you’re mobile and that’s the way to live. When you […]
It’s 2016 and we like our technology really small. Our phones fit in our pockets, our remotes are lighter than ever, and even our cars seem to be shrinking. So your new drone shouldn’t be an exception. This Axis VIDIUS Drone is 21% off right now and it’s so little, your biggest problem won’t be […]