“This is both an artwork and social robotics experiment,” Zeller and Harris told me in an email. “Usually, we are concerned whether we can trust robots, e.g. as helpers in our homes. But this project takes it the other way around and asks: can robots trust human beings?”
There’s more about the project here, and the bot is already on Twitter:
hitchBOT is also on Instagram, if you were interested.
This is a cool way to turn the central idea of the next 50 or so years — can we truly trust the machines? (cue panic about a Turing Test) — into a social project across a sun-dappled summer in Canada. I think hitchBOT is cute, and that’s going to help it in its journey — humans don’t destroy cute little things, in general — but trying to traverse an entire nation when you’re powered by car lighters and Wikipedia might be a tall order. I’m rooting for him (her?), though.