I always thought Kismet would be a good name for a super villain. Or a menacing alien–the kind that makes you fight Abraham Lincoln to prove the human concept of good versus evil. THAT kind of alien.
But.. too late. The name’s been given to a robot that Slate describes as “a body-less, language-less machine with wide eyes and kissy lips that can display emotions while interacting with humans.” Kismet is part of an effort by Dr. Cynthia Breazeal to explore how humans interact with robots.
To me, Kismet looks like a robot that somebody never got around to finishing. Could you put some skin on that metal skull, Dr. B? But the way this relates to my play (because it’s all about my play, you see) is, as Slate says, “Much of Breazeal’s focus today is on building robots that can improve the quality of life for the chronically ill, the elderly, and the very young.”
One of the characters in Rockwell’s Universal seXbots builds what he calls “Carebots,” which are companions for the sick, the elderly, and the lonely. Basically, Kismet is the great-great-grandfather of the Carebots in my play.
That same character also turns his son over to be raised by robots. This idea seems to have occurred to Dr. Breazeal as well–she’s also building something called the Alphabot that’s supposed to help with early-childhood education.
She’s got three young boys, so maybe you can’t blame her. Psst! Doc! You might want to see what happens in my play before you go too far down that road…