Robot Punk's Not Dead!

Sid Vicious meets C-3P0 in London punk festival

July 30, 2008

1 Min Read
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Its a far cry from the heart-warming animated world of Pixar’s WALL-E, but British scientists have somehow managed to fuse robot technology and punk music.

Visitors to a series of punk shows at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) earlier this month were treated to the somewhat bizarre sight of three pogo-ing robots totally immersed in "the filth and the fury."

The machines, designed by a group of artists and scientists, had been programmed to respond specifically to punk music, according to a BBC report.

The 7-foot-tall padded robots were dressed, appropriately enough, in leather, safety pins, and other punk styles. A collection of processors running in a neural network within the machines was used to discern the differences between different types of music.

”The robot ‘brain’, for want of a better word, was played lots of punk, reggae, disco and classical and over a period of time,” explained Peter McOwan, a professor at Queen Mary University in London, in an interview with the BBC. “The robot has learned to recognize and appreciate the patterns of sound in punk music."The robots can apparently decide whether a song is punk or not within about 30 seconds, and can even respond to the level of punk in a song.

The more punk a song is, the more the robot pogos in a "happy and frenzied way," according to professor McOwan, who was keen to see how humans interact with their robot concert-goers.

”It's real-time signal processing and robotic control in a fairly hostile environment -- in a mosh pit with lots of sweaty punks,” he told the BBC.

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