Patrons of a London neighborhood pub got more than a pint of ale and cucumber sandwiches during their visit.
Daily Mail reports that Engineered Arts, a company based in Penryn, Cornwall, created and embedded an artificial intelligence-based robot inside The Prince Alfred pub as part of a marketing campaign for HBO’s dystopic ‘Westworld’.
An Eerie Doppelgänger
The robot, nicknamed Fred, was modeled after English actor Tedroy Newell and was seated in a booth with a pint in hand. Fred interacted with fellow patrons and delivered a variety of evocative comments designed to gauge the reaction of humans.
'Malfunctioning' robot terrifies drinkers in a London pub
The hyper-realistic automaton, modeled to be an exact replica of London-based actor Tedroy Newell, sat down for a refreshing lager at The Prince Alfred pub in Maida Vale, in the west of t… https://t.co/cXQQsQLxU7
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The 55-year-old Newell told the Mail that, “Seeing yourself in robot form is a very, very strange experience.
“I’m honestly amazed at how realistic they were able to make it look – you can barely tell us apart.
“Not many people have had the chance to meet their ‘robotic twin’ so it’s very cool to have been a part of this project.”
It took almost a year for a team from Engineered Arts to build the robot and mold it to represent Newell. The time was also spent writing thousands and thousands of lines of programming code designed to bring Fred to life.
Funding for the project came from Now TV as part of a guerilla marking campaign for ‘Westworld’, a series involving an alternative realities and AI robots set in a 1800s Western environment.
Emma Quartly, marketing director at NOW TV, said: “We are still a long way away from creating artificially intelligent hosts as sophisticated as those in Westworld, but to celebrate the show’s return we wanted to give the general public a little taste of what is possible.
“Fred is the next generation in human-like robotics and so it seemed fitting to hand the show’s promotion over to him.”
Fred Goes ‘Off the Rails’
With hidden cameras scattered throughout the pub, Fred spoke with guests and even threw out the occasional insult.
It is when Fred asked various guests, “What are your thoughts on the impending humanoid robot invasion?” that things got interesting. The inquiry and resulting replies were punctuated by Fred shattering his drinking glass in his hand in apparent anger.
Described as a scheduled ‘malfunction’, a theme frequent in Westworld, the stunt elicited various reactions including unease, confusion and fear.
Fred follows in the footsteps of Hanson Robotic’s ‘Sophia’ robot. In March 2016, Sophia said in an interview that she would destroy humanity if ordered to.
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