A fellow grad student shared an interesting concept that I absolutely love. They are called Tweenbots. A tweenbot is a simple bot that has a destination displayed on a flag and moves only in one direction – forward. If you visit the site, you can see a video of a scenario where the tweenbot was deployed in an NYC park and relied on the kindness of strangers to help it get to its destination. Sure enough, passerby’s that saw the robot in distress stopped and helped the little guy out. Fantastic!
Link> Tweenbot <Link
I love this idea for so many reasons. First of all, let’s recognize that a concept that relies on the kindness of strangers was deployed in one of the most heartless places in the world and these heartless people were, in-fact, kind! What is also amazing to me is how people seem to have an interest in the welfare of the bot after they correct the direction. Not only do strangers reposition the bot so it can continue on its way, but people also wait and watch for a couple seconds to make sure it gets on its way safely.
Strangers are people too. Moving into a more urban environment has been a strange experience for me, it strikes me to see how people tend to ignore each other and avoid interacting. If you stop and think about it, you are a stranger just like everyone else. If you think of yourself as a kind person who is willing to help someone (or something) who is in distress, chances are there are other strangers out there who are willing to do the same. Perhaps people will stop calling each other “strangers” and just stick with calling each other “people.”