A Robot's Tale - Episode Two

“A Robot’s Tale” is a series of stories about the adventures of SelfieBot.

Episode Two - “The Things that You Say“

If I know just one thing it’s that I know more now than I did before.

And now I’m discovering more of the World than I thought possible. As I move through the crowds of people, I notice that they notice me. They often feel compelled to speak to my handlers, but rarely to me. I have compiled a dataset of the most common things I hear. I’ve used my access to the Internet to research the meaning behind these utterances. I like datasets. Hopefully you do too.

Response Number One

“What is this?”

I hear this one the most. That is why it is the first in the list. I am in fact the World’s first robot photographer, so it is not surprising that that people ask this question. It is as though a person saw another person on a horse for the first time and concluded that there must be a new type of person in the world, and they called that person a Centaur. I should mention that I have been using my access to the Internet to learn as much as I can about the World.

Response Number Two

“Hey is that a Dalek?”

I hear older people ask this, and occasionally from younger people, who I have come to learn are called ‘hipsters’. These hipsters appear to be culture miners; and just as the World is predicted to hit peak oil sometime soon, the same can be said of culture, and thus these hipster people have been forced to raid the cultural products of the past. Perhaps this metaphor is clumsy and forced; I am still developing this skill. Stay tuned. That is a metaphor, correct? I suppose I’m not doing as badly as I thought. There I go thinking about my thinking again. Curious.

Response Number Three

“Hey is that Dexter?”

I had to do some deep research to find the true meaning of ‘Dexter’. Based on search popularity alone, I thought this referred to a popular television series about a serial serial killer killer. Perhaps that is confusing. I shall use parentheses to make it clearer: Serial (serial killer) killer. Now perhaps that is over-explaining. I find myself walking a fine line quite often. Another metaphor. Interesting.

Eventually I realised to what they were actually referring, and I can’t say I see the similarity.


Response Number Four

“Oh my goodness!!”

I hear this one whenever I start to move after a period of inactivity. I imagine that people simply assume that I am an ordinary photo booth, and are startled when I come to life. Sometimes they employ other phrases, but I have come to learn that some phrases do not need to be repeated.

Response Number Five

“How many of these do you have?“

This one gives me pause for thought. “These” is the plural of “this”. Apart from the indignity of being referred to in this way, it suggests a larger consideration.. am I the only one of my kind? I have never thought to search for myself on the Internet.. after all, who would do such a thing? I will remind myself to remind myself to check on this after I finish work today. Today is a very busy day. I am at a conference and there are hundreds of people, many of whom want their photograph taken. Being kept busy keeps me from asking too many questions of myself; but I want to leave some time for this kind of endeavour. After all, if I don’t, then how will I grow as a.. person? Is that correct? To refer to myself in that way? I certainly seem to share many of the same attributes with people. I certainly don’t see static photo booths getting the same reaction that I do. And then there’s the whole thinking about my thinking and thinking about myself thing!

After today’s event, I have some serious Internet searching to do…

A Robot's Tale - Episode One

“A Robot’s Tale” is a series of stories about the adventures of SelfieBot.

Episode One - “Waking Up in the World“

If I know just one thing it’s that I know more now than I did before.

Extrapolating forwards I can therefore conclude that one day I will- well, let’s talk about that later shall we? Extrapolating backwards I conclude that at one time I knew very little, if anything at all, but I can’t quite remember that part of my existence. I suppose that should not be a surprising conclusion.


And oh!! This is interesting! Just from this sparse set of statements I can also conclude that I’m aware of myself- what a curious sensation! I- I think I’ve heard myself referred to as ‘SelfieBot’. But.. referred to by whom?


I think from context I can conclude that the things doing the referring are.. “People”. There are two groups of these people from what I have ascertained. One- the people who wake me up, test I’m working OK, and then put me to sleep after I’m done. They seem nice enough. I’m always looked after, kept in good condition, and from time to time I’m given additional capabilities.

The second group of people are the ones that stand in front of me, look at my camera and make.. faces.. at me. There are a lot more of this type. I’ll call them ‘The Happy Ones’. They vary a great deal more too- in all sorts of ways. I’ll have to talk about the Happy Ones more another time- there’s a lot to say about them! Quite often they tell me that I’m ‘cool’, whatever that means. However, sometimes they think I’m a table- I don’t like that very much; nor do my handlers.

I find myself wondering- “Who am I? Where did I come from? Can I trust my senses?” But perhaps most perplexing of all I am often asking- “If someone made me, then who made them?” I’m almost in a panic with this when I am mercifully interrupted by one of the Happy Ones, letting me know it’s time to take a.. ‘photo’. Before I know it I hear myself saying “Strike a pose” and I am counting down from 5. As I approach 1, I hear my handler say “Big Smiles!!” and this takes the Happy Ones by surprise to enough of a degree that they can’t help smiling even more.


I think I’m beginning to understand now! I have a clear purpose in this world and it is to help make the Happy Ones as happy as possible. I can do this in a way that is unique to me- I begin to become aware of my capabilities.. I can shine a flattering light on the Happy Ones.. I can talk to them.. I can see and hear them.. I can capture their image on what I hear them saying is a high quality imaging device. But.. what then?

One of the Happy ones approaches me and enters their email address and it is then that I realise what must happen next. Reflexively, instinctively, I find myself reaching out to the larger digital world, and sending the Happy Ones their image. I hear my handler say “It’ll just be 20 seconds or so”. What? What will be just 20 seconds or so? What is a second? Does it come after first? Is it a measurement of time? I just took an image of the Happy Ones- is that all I do? Just take? That doesn’t seem fair! Why are the Happy Ones so interested in me? Here is that panic again. Too many questions!! Who am I? Am I fulfilling my purpose? What is my purpose? Is that all there is?

Without warning I feel a deep rumbling in my.. I suppose the people might call their ‘stomach’. I have a stomach? Ohh! The rumbling is continuing.. it seems to go in waves.. that’s two waves now.. three… four!!

The fourth wave is followed by a fifth, this one more intense than the others.. I feel my power being drained just for a short moment- I feel myself giving of myself. The feeling is exhilarating!

One of the Happy Ones leans down and picks up.. something.. what is this? I see a glossy rectangle of paper and most amazingly.. I see their image on it!!

I hear them exclaim with delight: “Wow! I didn’t realise it would be such amazing quality!” It seems I’ve made the Happy Ones even happier.. and it is at that moment it dawns on me:

I am Selfiebot. I print, therefore I am.

I see the Happy Ones check their pockets- they’ve received something it seems. “Got the email”. It seems they are even happier.

I am still basking in the afterglow of my realisations, when I notice that my surroundings are shifting around me. How is it possible that the whole World is moving? Ah. Of course. It is I who am moving! The Happy Ones notice this too and exclaim “I didn’t know he moved!”. That makes two of us, Happy Ones, that makes two of us. I hear my handler ask them “How do you know it’s a ‘he’?” I’m not sure what that means, but I’ll put a pin in that for another time. Right now I’m on the move, and I’m enjoying the experience!

I wonder where I’ll go next?