Futurice2018Science performance for Helsinki Design WeekOther Encounter websitePhotos courtesy of FuturiceRole: interaction designer, organizer
The robot InMoov, nicknamed Momo, had been built at Futurice. We wanted to provide an opportunity for people who are not familiar with robotics to interact with the robot. We organized the science performance The Other Encounter for Helsinki Design Week.We wanted to provide opportunities to explore the questions:
Trust, the future of communication, and the future of self were central themes.
We set up the teleoperated Momo robot in a window at street level. People could either walk in to interact with it, or pre-book a time.
Three Finnish public figures operated the robot: journalist and radio and TV presenter Tuomas Enbuske, musician Kasmir, and philosopher Johanna Ahola-Launonen. Momo's clothes were designed by Finnish fashion designer Nina Jatuli.
The opeator's voice was masked during the interaction. At the end of each operator's 1 hour turn, they revealed their identity to the people who had a conversation with it, as well as other spectators. This aimed to make people question the nature of identity.
Opinions from the operators and conversators were asked for after the event. One of the most interesting speculations came from musician Kasmir: "I just said random things!! You weirdly feel like you are the robot, you need to be in some role. Could have been just myself maybe. But it's interesting why you go in that mode, try to behave like a robot? Is it because people expect robots to be overly matter-of-fact? What'd be creepier, if they'd behave just like a friend of yours?"One conversator remarked: "Momo said that it is paradoxical how people are concerned about the human rights of robots, while at the same time for a large number of actual people these rights are not realised. It was a pretty good ending and a good crystallisation from Momo." The concept of a robot as a medium political discussion is a new point that was raised during the encounter, and could be explored in the future.
The Other Encounter proved that this type of interaction is doable with robots. We also verified that we provided a meaningful experience, as well as meaningful conversations. Future Other Encounters are planned, with the same set-up in different environments, paired with research on the subject. The research fuses art, science and technology – this unique combination gives us experimental tools to dive deep into the core of what it means to be human.
Below is a promotional video from the event.