Wired: “Banned From the US? There’s a Robot for That” (Mark quoted)

June 5, 2017

Two telepresence robots roll into a human-computer interaction conference. Sounds like the beginning of a very nerdy joke, but it really happened (#2017). A few weeks ago in Denver, Colorado, a robot I was piloting over the internet from my computer in Idaho stood wheel-to-wheel with a similar ‘bot in a pink skirt controlled by a researcher in Germany. We huddled. We introduced ourselves by yelling at each other’s screens. Given the topic of the conference, this particular human-computer interaction was a little too on the HD touch-screen nose. But as much as the huddle symbolized of the future, it was also a political statement about a troubled present.

“It is a political statement, right? That we can allow people to come,” says Gloria Mark, General Chair of CHI and a professor of informatics at the University of California, Irvine. She says that even with the telepresence robots reserved for people wth denied visas, the conference still lost some attendees over the looming ban. “They just didn’t even want to take a chance of coming,” she said.

Read the full story at Wired.