I will confess I have a crush on a certain little robot. I’m sure you’ve seen him in my photographs before: cute little guy with an inquisitive nature. This crush began in the fall of 2014 when I created this robot from the plans supplied in LEGO Space: Building the Future by Peter Reid and Tim Goddard.
Like most LEGO builders, I have a house full of LEGO, until I have to actually build something. So when I created my little robot, he wasn’t exactly as the creator intended. I made a few substitutions that I liked, solid eyes, round tops to his ‘feet’ and shorter legs. You could say I customized him out of necessity, but even with these compromises, he’s clearly a Peter Reid creation.
This little robot has travelled with me to Hawaii, Utah, Germany, Denmark and Sweden. Last summer I wrote a post about who my favorite mini-figures were and even then he was at the top of my list (although technically he’s not a mini figure). I’ve photographed him with the winter’s first snowfall, in the autumn rains, smelling the spring wild flowers and watching a Hawaiian sunset.
My crush on this little guy is not unique however. When Kristina came to visit last November, she too fell in love with this precocious fellow. She took her fair share of photographs of him while she was in Seattle, and when she left I gave him to her as a parting gift. It makes me happy to think that this little robot is in Sweden with my friend as a memento of our fun adventures together.
A few weeks ago I received a message through Flickr from the creator himself – Peter Reid – asking me if I would like him to send me a new, updated version of his little creation? I was left speechless, a rather rare occurrence, by this email. Of course I said: “yes!” Who wouldn’t? But this gift from Peter means more than a few pieces of LEGO assembled into a clever build. I’ve always felt that I ‘stole’ this robot, he wasn’t my own creation, I’d only found a set of instructions in a book and made this robot and set him free into the world. I never could quite shake the feeling that I’d crossed the line into someone else’s Intellectual Property. I felt that with his gift of Keko, and his companion turtle, that I was given ‘permission’ by Peter to keep exploring my world through the eyes of his inquisitive robot.
When I took him with me for his first outing on the Seattletoyphotosafari, I hadn’t realized how much I’d missed him. When I first saw him through my view-finder, I was overjoyed! Of course, all of this makes me wonder exactly what my connection to robots is? Do I have this connection to all robots or only this one? Is it because of our shared experiences? Or is it because I have decided he’s my personal muse as I explore the macro world around me? Or does this fascination reflect our own increasing interactions with artificial intelligence in the terms of virtual personal assistants, self driving cars and video games?
There is no denying that as a human species we’ve always been fascinated with the concept of the modern day robot since it was first introduced in the early 1920’s. My entire understanding of robots and their interactions with humans comes from Isaac Asimov’s seminal work I, Robot and the rules he developed called: Three Laws of Robotics. It remains to be seen, as our world continues to develop artificial intelligence at a rapid pace, if the creatures we develop will be our saviors or our downfall. Will these life forces we’ve created, destroy us like the Robots of the Flight of the Concords song:
The humans are dead
The humans are dead
We used poisonous gasses
And we poisoned their asses
Or will they be the benevolent helpmates that become our companions and advisors, like the drones in Ian Banks’, Culture series?
I think you can get a sense that I enjoy reading science fiction novels, and I’m sure my love of this little robot named Keko, as well as all things originating in LEGO classic space, have their origins in that interest. I like the idea of my robot alter ego looking around and exploring our incredibly unique world with his “outer space” eyes.
I’m grateful Peter Reid reached out and sent me this little guy and his companion turtle. I now have spare parts, different colored eyes (I can only presume the yellow set sees better in the dark) and interchangeable ‘hands’ . To this stock of spare parts I’ve added a fishing pole (complete with fish), a cat companion, a well worn teddy bear and a cowboy hat. I’m not sure what other accessories will accompany him on his journey, only time will tell.
Now that he’s back in my life, I’ve no doubt we have a few more stories we want to tell together. And as Keko and I continue to explore the world together, now with Peter’s blessing, we will take his final words to heart:
“Good luck with your mission. Hunt the awesome.”