Karen Myers: When I introduced Flakey the Robot to Alan Alda

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The head of SRI’s AI Center recalls when the TV star and science-communications expert visited SRI to learn more about our extraordinary work in robotics.

One interesting highlight for me in my work at SRI happened fairly early in my career. I was working with our robotics team — on a system called Flakey. We were doing some really cutting edge, really cool kinds of things.

Alan Alda from Scientific American Frontiers found out about this work. He used to host the show [Scientific American Frontiers], where he looked at different technologies and educated people in the broader community about cutting-edge technologies or science. He came to SRI and spent an afternoon and we showed him Flakey. We put Flakey through his paces and had him doing various tasks in the lab.

It was a really great experience. Alan Alda was into the technology and was very prepared for the interactions; he had a lot of great questions. He clearly was joyful about interacting with the Flakey system and with the researchers who helped to develop it.

It was a fun experience.

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