As you can see from articles in The New Yorker, Gawker, Daily Beast, The Atlantic, Gamasutra, and other discerning media outlets, the amazing robotic text generator Horse_ebooks has a person tucked inside. A sort of Trojan horse, I suppose, although a rather benign kind.
If you’re looking for my new book of poems, Riddle & Bind, and you happen to be near the MBTA’s Red Line or Harvard Square specifically, prepare for excitement. You can not only purchase the book in this venerable area of Cambridge; you can have the Harvard Book Store’s book-making robot, Paige M. Gutenborg, manufacture a copy of Riddle & Bind for you in about four minutes. The cost for the book and the bibliotronic display in which it is forged is simply the retail price, $16.
I have the feeling that someone must have put in a good word for me.
Update: As of August 14, 2012, Riddle & Bind is not available to be printed on the Espresso Book Machine at the Harvard Book Store. The book can be special ordered through the Harvard Book Store, however.
The MIT Press bookstore, down the red line at the MIT/Kendall stop, has copies of Riddle & Bind in the store and available for purchase.
I was startled to discover these two things at the post office today, the immediate implications of this message:
- The US Postal Service has developed a kiosk/robot capable of experiencing pleasure.
- Said robot is stimulated pleasurably by selling me a stamp.
I wanted to somehow let the robot know that I also appreciated the necessary service it performed. I thought about getting one of these Priority Mail stickers, writing on it “It was a pleasure, also, to be served by you, robot!,” and then slapping it on the side of the Automatic Postal Center. But the robot wouldn’t be able to read that message, would it? Maybe I could hold up a note with a similar message to the camera that is used to surveil patrons of the APC. But then I’d have to wait in line again, and I doubt the robot is capable of handwritten character recognition – it wouldn’t have asked me to type in the zip code if it was.
I can only hope that this faithful servant is among the many robot readers of my blog.
Also, I feed certain there must be some applications outside of the mail system for pleasure-experiencing robots, although none come to mind right away. Any ideas?
(Obligatory self-reference: An Automated Postal Center appears in my 2005 interactive fiction Book and Volume.)