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Press Release

Jonathan Potts

For immediate release:
July 20, 2004

If I Could Talk to the Robots...

One-Man Show Exploring Robot Intelligence Launches Carnegie Mellon, University of Pittsburgh Cognitive Modeling Conference

PITTSBURGH — International Conference of Cognitive Modeling, hosted this year by Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh, will kick off with the innovative one-man play — well, one-man, one-robot — "Judy, or What Is It Like To Be A Robot?" at 8 p.m. Thursday, July 29, at McConomy Auditorium in the University Center on the Carnegie Mellon campus. The event is free and open to the public. The two-day conference begins in earnest July 30.

The play, written and performed by Rhode Island monologist Tom Sgouros, explores what it means to be a robot and what it means to think. "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.

Sgouros decided to probe the question of just how smart robots are by going straight to the source and interviewing one — Judy, who Sgouros built in his basement, over the course of several months from pieces of old computers, a couple of bicycles, a photocopy machine, a marine stove and yes, someone's kitchen sink. After 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 in Rhode Island. Tom and Judy have performed their show for dozens of psychology, philosophy and computer science departments at universities all over the United States and Canada. This will be their second visit to Carnegie Mellon, where they performed in 2002. After the show, which lasts about 65 minutes, audience members will have the chance to ask questions of Judy and her creator, as well as local and visiting researchers.

Information on Tom Sgouros is available at He is available for media interviews after the show, or beforehand from 7 to 7:45 p.m. Judy can be interviewed after the show.

The International Conference on Cognitive Modeling is a forum for researchers to share state-of-the-art research on building computer models that explain and predict cognitive phenomena, such as learning to solve complex problems or making decisions from information in a visual display. For more information, contact Marsha Lovett, 412-268-3499, or Frank Ritter, 814-65-4453,


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