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From Terminator to RoboCop, robots have been a fascination of modern culture for the last few decades. Industries are automated, computers play chess, the Japanese have developed realistic humanoid robots and yet science-fiction warns us of the downfall of humanity in the face of the machine.
Corporations are as ingenious as ever, especially when it comes to making a buck off of technology and the techno scene will not escape it. Working with a Japanese company, one Canadian entrepeneur is trying to take robotics to the dance-floor. After observing the club-scene and commercialized rave scenes in search of new target markets, he has noted that what makes a great party is how full the club is and how many people are dancing. A great event can be disastrous if the venue is even just a third empty. He has a solution. Fill the place with robots.
The DNCR-3001 is an automatronic humanoid robot programmed with over 300 dance moves and 10 different personality traits. It can be the shy dancer at the back of the club, the sexy dancer grinding in the middle of the dance-floor, or even the speaker-hugger that spends it's time gyrating as close to the sound-system as possible. Available in both male and female, their clothing can be changed to match the style of the intended theme and music plus they are remotely controlled so they can even move to give room to actual people wanting to dance.
The official press-release insists that the concept is not to replace people, but to fill up a room, add to the ambiance and improve the over-all experience. The company's spokesperson states: "We're in the final stages of this project and we're really excited. We pushed the date back three months and are glad we did because we've managed to develop a program in which the robots can analyze realpeople's behavior and react. So they can now look at you and return a smile or give you a thumbs up on a great dance move, creating a positive and encouraging - what the kids call - vibe".
However, the price for renting a DNCR-3001 is fairly steep and is not, as yet for the poorer promoter. If the public reaction is positive says the company, they will install security programming in case of emergency. This on the other hand, is scaring some people in the scientific community, based on the old fear of machines developing cognitive abilities and altering their own pre-programmed behavior, or simply doing the wrong thing as they lack proper situational judgment skills. "A robot can analyze and calculate, but it can't judge. Without natural instinct and street-smart observational abilities, I can foresee a hundred things that can go wrong during a whole night with real people that are on drugs or aren't comfortable around these machines. It's potentially dangerous" insists a Robotic Technology Sciences graduate from the University of Montreal who's name won't be divulged for fear of reprisals from the manufacturers of the DNCR-3001. Their spokesperson dismisses these claims already: "It doesn't matter, since all the robots come installed with an Emergency Shutdown system, which is simultaneous and instantaneous".
The electronic music world is going to have to decide whether they prefer to have a full house, or a real house. So far, only three major promoters, two in the USA and one in Canada, have signed contracts for use of the DNCR-3001. Grounds will be tested, and perhaps the robots will be a more receptive crowd for the super-star DJ.
Rave against the machine, or dance next next to one.
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