Philip K. Dick
PKD was conceived in late 2004, when Dr. Hanson brought together a team of artists, designers, programmers, engineers, and literary scholars to blend state-of-the-art artificial intelligence, robotics, sculpture and software into a life-size android, capable of looking, sounding and yes, even thinking like the author whose works inspired science fiction movie classics such as “Blade Runner,” “Minority Report,” and “Total Recall.” PKD is a live repository of Philip K. Dick’s literary works, interview transcripts, images and recordings of his voice.
PKD’s first public appearance came in June 2005 at Wired Magazine’s NextFest event in Chicago, where he headlined the entertainment exhibit area. He lounged in a recreation of the author’s ‘70s-era living room, conducting interviews, conversing with event attendees and even promising to take care of his favorite humans after robots take over the world. If the experience felt like it came straight out of a sci-fi novel, it was meant to. And for Philip K. Dick’s family, it was also déjà vu – the android actually recognized some of them when they visited the exhibit.
Almost from the beginning, PKD achieved celebrity status among scientists and futurist types. In addition to his debut at the NextFest event, PKD appeared at the FedEx Institute of Technology in Memphis later that same month. The first of many awards rolled in during the AAAI event in Pittsburgh in July 2005, where PKD talked with passersby and other humans, winning the Robotics Open Interaction Award.
PKD continued a heavy event schedule that summer, making a celebrity appearance at ComicCon in San Diego to promote Warner Brothers’ new film, “A Scanner Darkly.” A big hit among eventgoers, PKD took questions from the audience, showing off his full autonomy. He also appeared at events in New Orleans and Dallas, hosting parties, philosophical discussions and earning near-mythic status among those who saw him.