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What Is It Like To Be A Robot? 
and Performed by 
Tom Sgouros 

Since the dawn of the computer age, oceans of ink have been spilt writing about the intelligence of computers. Some researchers say that computers will eventually attain super-human intelligence. Others call these claims... um, poppycock. Oddly, in the search for the truth of the matter, both camps have overlooked an obvious strategy: interviewing a computer and asking its opinion. Intrepid researcher Sgouros has leapt into this lacuna, and presents some preliminary findings in a new not-quite-solo show. (You could call it "My Dinner with Android.") 

The central question is: if you build a robot smart enough to do the dishes, will it also be smart enough to find them boring?

Judy herself was built in Tom's basement, over the course of several months, from pieces of some old computers, a couple of bicycles, a copy machine, marine stove, and yes, someone's kitchen sink. After literally weeks of intensive tutoring in phonics, elocution, and the elements of logic, Judy made her public debut in January, 2000, at Providence's Perishable Theatre

The seventh in a series of possibly comic monologues and solo dialogues, Judy is a story of a man and his, um, companion, discussing such topics as imagination, consciousness, stage magic, the uses of eyes, and what it's really like to wake up in the morning and confront your aluminum-and-steel face in the mirror each day. 

Here's a review
Here's another
Here are still more
How about one from a distinguished
philosopher of mind? Here.
Here's one from an expert in artifical intelligence.
Here are lots more

"Judy is as much fun as a barrel of wind-up cymbal-monkeys, and lots more entertaining."
-Bill Rodriguez, Providence Phoenix

"Take one clever human being and one clever (for a computer-driven) robot. Mix them up and what you have is a pretty clever piece about who's smart and who's really smart."
-Bill Gale, Providence Journal

"Tom Sgouros's witty play, co-starring the charming robot Judy, is an imagination-stretcher that delights while it exercises your mind. If you think you can't imagine a conscious robot, you're wrong--you can, especially once you've met Judy."
-Daniel Dennett, author of "Consciousness Explained"

"...an engrossing evening... Real questions about consciousness, freedom to act, the relationship between the creator and the created are woven into a bravura performance." -Will Stackman, Aislesay.com

"...I laughed a lot, the show is extremely witty and deliciously permeated by self-referential and frame-breaking jokes. I took my two children -- Danny, age 13, and Monica, age 9 -- along to the show, and afterwards they repeated many parts of it to each other with great amusement. And they argued in the car about what certain events and statements meant, and what actually happened and what only seemed to happen, and so forth... What an amazing thing!"
-Douglas Hofstadter, author of "Le Ton Beau de Marôt"

Here are several more reviews from people who've hosted a performance.

Here are a bunch of reviews that appeared in the press about the November 2003 run of the show at Perishable Theatre.

About other shows by Tom:

Millennium: A Love Story

"...a brilliant bit, and wholly original. In 13 years of reviewing
for the Post, I've never seen anything quite like it."
-Chip Deffaa, New York Post

Liar: An Evening of True Stories

"Sgouros reels in his listeners like a fisherman setting bait:
first a tease of what he's doing and then, whonk,
he lands them, gasping for air in a completely different universe."
-Johnette Rodriguez, Providence Phoenix


Judy is available to appear at your theatre, philosophy department colloquium, clambake, circus, or whatever. Contact her friend Tom, like this.
photo by john meyers