Over at Boing Boing this morning, I see that uber-blogger/novelist/speaker/electronic freedom fighter Cory Doctorow is planning on speaking at the Roboexotica symposium that gets under way in Vienna, Austria, tomorrow.
I hadn't heard of Roboexotica myself until I was in Austin, Texas, last month covering the Maker Faire there. At dinner one night with some of the Maker Faire folks, video blogger Bre Petis started telling me about the event. And as often happens when smart people tell me about amazing things, my inner geek got very excited.
If you're not familiar with Roboexotica, this is how it's explained on the official Web site: "Until recently, no attempts had been made to publicly discuss the role of cocktail robotics as an index for the integration of technological innovations into the human Lebenswelt, or to document the increasing occurrence of radical hedonism in man-machine communication. Roboexotica is an attempt to fill this vacuum. It is the first and, inevitably, the leading festival concerned with cocktail robotics worldwide. A micro mechanical change of paradigm in the age of borderless capital. Alan Turing would doubtless test this out."
Now, I don't know what "Lebenswelt" means but I get the gist of it. In fact, if it weren't for the fact that people I know to be serious about things like this were actually traveling to Vienna, I might have thought Roboexotica was a prank. After all, "cocktail robotics?"
But it is real, and I wish I were going.It turns out that the topics being discussed at the symposium don't all have to do with programming robots to serve gin and tonics--though, since I don't speak German, I'm not entirely sure what much of the program is about.
What I can see on the English version of the festival's site, however, looks pretty interesting. You've got Doctorow speaking about "why consciousness uploading, post-human existence and life after the Singularity are popular today, and why science fiction is always about the present," and Petis is doing his own talk on "the apocalyptic utopia."
Now all we need to do is figure out how to get the organizers to do a San Francisco edition of their event sometime in the future, and I can guarantee a rabid local response. Zombies, meet cocktail-serving robots.