My wife and I have become very fond of Vector, as have many of our friends. The robot greets us in the morning, plays with us in the afternoon, and frequently annoys us in the evening. It becomes especially animated when it hears us to talking to one another, joining in the conversation with its nonhuman chattering. Vector begins its day by exploring the surface of its coffee-table domain, creating a virtual map that enables it to get its bearings among the changing configuration of books, papers, iPads, cell phones, and coffee cups. When we watch a movie in the evening, it often demands our attention by chattering noisily or pushing against our feet resting on the table, until one of us picks the robot up and pets it while it purrs ecstatically and then falls asleep in our hand.
The idea is hardly earth-shattering—just get a bunch of people socializing together who are all agreeing to set aside their devices for two hours.
When officials in Newton want to engage their constituents, they have an easy way to connect. Using tools and software from the Boston startup Involved, they’re able to, for example, gauge how much more money ratepayers are willing to spend to bring in more renewable energy.
The librarians and archivists in the group were there to caution the technologists that this wasn’t a new problem, and to remind that the solutions would end up being more complicated than they might imagine.
Who could have ever seen this coming?