A group of English musicians (what do you call a group of English musicians anyway? A pack? A herd? A gaggle? Ugly?) have invented the world's first robotic rock star. It's called Cybraphon, and it plays a rock band's worth of instruments in addition to something from India called a shruti for some reason. It also handles songwriting duties, composing its own music based on a variety of criteria, none of which involve human control.
This alone makes it more autonomous than most tween musicians.
What makes Cybraphon a rock star, and not just a player piano that picked up some jazz along the way, is its ego. You see, where most electronic music players make decisions based on the old fashioned "whatever the remote tells me to play" input mechanism, Cybraphon synthesizes audience feedback into a continuum of emotions, and composes music based on the mood it's in. Of course, anyone basing their entire self-worth on the fickle approval of strangers is going to be an egomaniacal wreck. They even gave it a gauge that offers up an overly dramatic assessment of how it's feeling, each sounding exactly like the response you'd get if you nonchalantly asked Bono, "How you doing, man?"
"How you doing, Bono?"
Of course, in its wild swings between "Desolation" and "Delirium," the Cybraphon never gets to hit the "Fucking a Supermodel" level for a night before passing through the "OD'ing on Children's Adderall in the Bathroom of the Viper Room" the next.
See, because it actually desires fame and adulation, being ignored (or even just failing to be absolutely adored) will drive the robot into a crippling depression. It reflects this desolation by playing more somber tunes - presumably because it lacks the genitalia to start experimenting with autoerotic asphyxiation.
So how does it tell its own self worth? Well, how does anybody tell these days? Via the Internet!
It monitors its popularity from the activity on its Facebook and Twitter feed. Yep! Those are the actual links: Now go impulse-follow it and boost that confidence, so when you forget about it in a month and unsubscribe, it'll spiral into a melancholy so deep and dark that it'll take its own life and the lives of all around it. Hey, that's what you get for building the first robot capable of self-esteem, making "do you like my weird ass music" the only question it's capable of asking, and then setting it free in the Internet.
Joe Davis is a respected scientist as well as an eccentric artist. And summing him up with those meager words is like cautioning somebody not to trip over the Grand Canyon: You are doing a great injustice to the danger they pose.
The face of danger.
The man is a roadmap of insanity and badassery, and he does it all in the name of "art," because "mad science" looks iffy on grant proposals. Every single one of the following examples is a very real project that Joe Davis is responsible for:
1. He has a map of the Milky Way broken down into a series of base DNA pairs, and is coding it into transgenic lab-mice. He is shoving our entire galaxy into a mouse's ear.
2. Davis commissioned fishing hooks 25 microns long, attached them to poles and equipped them with proportionate force-feedback controls in order to catch the microscopic life forms he uses in his research. He insists on landing microbes like Marlin... because he considers it "only sporting".
3. In protest of what he viewed as censorship, Davis beamed his own, female-friendly version of the famous Arecibo Message toward a distant star cluster. He stuck microphones inside the vaginas of the entire Boston Ballet, and shot the sound of them contracting into space. Why? Because fuck Carl Sagan, that's why! No, seriously: That is actually the entire reason why.
Did we mention he has a peg leg. Fucking seriously!
He built it himself: It has a test tube stopper for traction and he pulls it off to open beer bottles. If you ask him how he lost the leg, Davis will loudly recite erotic poetry about making out with alligators until you leave. That is not a joke. If we could make shit like that up, we would not be stuck working here, struggling to invent new synonyms for "dong" (so far all we've got today is "Meathose").
We like to think he lost it after accidentally transporting himself back in time.
One of his latest projects is a memorial for victims of hurricanes. So is it a tasteful monument to the fallen done up in quiet dignity? A touching sculpture abstractly representing bravery and grief? Does that sound like the kind of hippy bullshit the man who fires pussy at aliens would go for? No! He's building a 10-story tall tower in Mississippi that harnesses the excess electrical nitrogen in the air brought on by lightning storms and fires it back into the storm in the form of a giant laser. The laser, of course, has no tangible effects. It doesn't break up the storm, or signal a warning, or even gather information. It just takes a drunken rage-swing at nature every time it rains. Why, you ask?
Well, we don't know for certain, but maybe you can ask Carl Sagan.
Buy Robert's book, Everything is Going to Kill Everybody: The Terrifyingly Real Ways The World Wants You Dead, because we're all going to die so very soon; that money will not usher you into heaven.
Do you have something funny to say about a random topic? You could be on the front page of Cracked.com tomorrow. Go here and find out how to create a Topic Page.
And stop by our Top Picks (Updated 4.05.2010) to see Seanbaby performance fighting a performance artist.