Alexa Weber Morales with Will Wright, founder of a Berkeley Calif.-based robot think tank, The Stupid Fun Club.

Inside the Stupid Fun Club

By Alexandra Weber Morales, March 01, 2004
Software Development

Last summer, I ran across a robot on the sidewalk (read the whole story in “Candid Encounter,” Comment, Feb. 2004). Though the wacky incident was permanently etched on my memory, much about it remained a mystery. Who made this strangely sympathetic robot? Why was it being filmed? The producers were tight-lipped at the time. Months later, as I wrote up the story for my editorial, I decided that my unusually fruitless Web searches for more information weren’t effort enough.

I began making telephone calls—and proved, yet again, that you can find anyone in just three. First call: The theater on the corner where the incident occurred. They remembered the robot, and suggested I ask the Oakland Film Commission if they’d had a permit. Second call: I netted the name and phone number of the Los Angeles– based producer. Third call (repeated several times over two days): I managed to catch her live. “How’d you get this number?” she grumbled.

I explained, and though she was evasive, she finally conceded that the robot had been designed and provided by the Stupid Fun Club in Berkeley, California.

Though Mike Winter, one of the club’s founders, was initially concerned that I was a different woman who had become enraged by the robot and had done considerable damage to it, he soon opened up and invited me to the warehouse for a photo shoot and interview. To my surprise, the interview ended up being double-sided, with Winter and his colleagues filming me as I interviewed Will Wright and interacted with the robots.

Read on for a snapshot of the chaos—and philosophy—behind their shenanigans…

Girl Geeks Unite

By Alexandra Weber Morales, December 9, 2011
, Huffington Post
She had me at “hypolithic cyanobacteria detector.” Those three words, from young Davidson Fellow Rebecca Jolitz, launched one of many conversations I had at the Girl Geek Dinner. Jolitz explained that her software simulation of how a photosynthetic organism found under rocks could survive on Mars could mean life exists there.

Read more on Huffington Post…


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