Androids are being developed that have an uncanny resemblance to people. A pinnacle example is an android crafted by roboticist David Hanson that resembles the famous and deceased science fiction writer Philip K. Dick. What makes android Dick so remarkable isn’t so much his appearance as it is his ability to hold an intelligent conversation.

The creators of android Dick uploaded the deceased author’s work onto the android’s software, as well as conversations with other writers. If the android was asked a question that had been posed to the real Dick, the robot would answer the question as Dick would. The robot was also able to answer a series of complex questions. If the robot was asked a question that it was unfamiliar with, its software would attempt to answer the question using what is called “latent semantic analysis.”(1)

Android Dick in conversation

Android Dick’s speaking abilities were put to the test in an interview with a reporter from PBS NOVA. Android Dick’s brain is comprised of a tapestry of wires that are connected to a laptop. As the conversation proceeded, Philip’s facial recognition software kept track of the reporter’s face. In addition, speech recognition software transcribed and sent the reporter’s words to a database in order to assemble a response.

The questions posed to Dick were by no means trivial. When the reporter asked if the android could think, it responded, “A lot of humans ask me if I can make choices or if everything I do is programmed. The…

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