Liberty Needs A Keynote Robot

March 24th, 2014   Submitted by Davi Barker

KeynoteRobotOne of the advantages of being a teetotaler is that when liberty-minded people get together and have brilliant ideas, I’m often the one who remembers them. The idea of a Keynote Robot is not my own. It was borne out of the frustrations among some of the attendees of PorcFest X that keynote speakers like Gary Johnson didn’t really reflect their ideas. Similar frustrations surrounded the selection of Naomi Wolfe as a keynote at this year’s Liberty Forum. The problem is it’s becoming increasingly difficult to secure more like-minded speakers like Larken Rose, or Ben Stone, because more principled speakers are refusing to fly. The liberty movement in general is losing a lot of great speakers to the TSA. Plus, a number of international speakers won’t set foot in the US. So, it’s time to take the idea of a Keynote Robot more seriously. And you know this is a viable idea because it recently made it possible for whistleblower-in-chief, Edward Snowden to speak at TED2014.

Victor Hugo famously said that you cannot stop a good idea whose time has come. That is not only because of the enthusiasm of its advocates, but also because the same idea emerges simultaneously in many different brains. You could think of this process as analogous to convergent evolution in nature, whereby similar adaptations emerge independently in distinct species of different lineages. The classic example is the evolution of flight in insects, birds, and bats despite wings not being present in the last common ancestor of those groups. This is also a pretty strong argument against intellectual property, because one cannot prove, simply by having an idea, that the same idea did not emerge independently elsewhere.

The earliest example of this idea that I’m aware of was fictional. On the TV show Big Bang Theory, brainiac Sheldon Cooper devises a Mobile Virtual Presence Device (MVPD), nicknamed “Shelbot.” I’m sure there are earlier examples, but it doesn’t matter where the idea originated. It’s time has come. In the case of Edward Snowden the device was termed a “Telepresence Robot,” and it enabled him to deliver his TED Talk, “Here’s How We Take Back The Internet,” without the threat government aggression. Imagine the reach of speakers like Stefan Molyneux if he fully capitalized on his YouTube name “StefBot.” Speakers would no longer need to choose between events with conflicting schedules. In fact, they could deliver the same speech live in multiple locations.


The Snowden Robot is a perfect prototype for what is possible at Liberty Forum, but PorcFest presents some unique challenges. Events like PorcFest and the Jackalope Freedom Festival are increasingly more about establishing an autonomous zone in which to put voluntaryist ideas into action, and less about speakers. Plus, the bandwidth limitations of camping style events make uninterrupted teleconferencing a challenge. But, these events would be ideal to experiment with prerecorded stuff.

I imagine a fully functional Keynote Robot operating like jukebox. Imagine if the keynote speeches of previous years were all preloaded and ready for playback. Or, perhaps the speakers who are physically present could upload their most popular speeches, so those who aren’t familiar with them could get a sense of their style before attending their talk. With a little extra design and programming the Keynote Robot could even include a virtual talking head of the speaker to mouth the words of the audio recording.

I doubt we’ll ever completely replace the physical presence of luminaries in the liberty movement. The opportunity to rub elbows and chew fat over dinner, or by a campfire is a pleasure not easily digitized. But we’ve already lost the company of the folks who can’t, or won’t fly. I don’t see the Keynote Robot replacing in-person speakers, but it would go along way toward circumventing the aggression that prevents some from appearing in-person.

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13 Responses to “Liberty Needs A Keynote Robot”

  1. VanmindNo Gravatar says:

    Preprogrammed to give the audience what it wants to hear. This is different from politicians how?

    And … reruns? How laughable would that be? “Thanks for coming thousands of miles to our event. Here’s a cost-effective jukebox for you all, featuring speeches that — well, sure, speeches that you could find anywhere online, but the point for you to take away is that you made an effort to maximize your opportunity cost.”

    I remember back in the mid-90’s I wrote a script for a business model pitch that would have allowed an audience (the money-bags listening to the pitch) to watch on-screen a computer graphic of a “person” that was talking to them live by way of remote controllers (a real person with those “ping pong” markers taped to their body joints for real-time approximation as a 3D computer model). Not that I had enough money at the time to eat every day let alone prototype such a contraption.

    Also: so-called Snowden is a hoax whistleblower and a psy-op. All of that has been scripted to give the lumpen yet another “trustworthy” celebrity news-bringer, as well as to trick them into going back to actually defending the FMSM (e.g. scummy Greenwald) against those awful, awful accusations of NWO stoogery. It’s similar to how companies like Spookle and Facespook are currently lying about being “totally on the side of consumers regarding this whole NSA thing.”

  2. jesse porterNo Gravatar says:

    I would support a robot president. He wouldn’t need to be a looter, and he wouldn’t care if I loved or hated him. He wouldn’t even care whether I pulled his plug or hooked him to an electric chair. And I wouldn’t care whether he became famous or infamous.

  3. HReardenNo Gravatar says:

    Really? You only want to hear someone who agrees overwhelmingly with you? In the former USSR I am sure that all public speakers communicated the part line. Is that what you want? A robot to spew only the party line? Liberty is not a religion or cult. I like listening to someone who is likeminded but I also realize that there are many people who are not likeminded regarding many issue. I wouldn’t mind listening to someone like Naomi Wolf. Don’t you ever get tired of the choir preaching to you? How are we going to influence others to our viewpoint if we don’t invite them to speak to us? Perhaps you don’t care if likeminded people are invited to speak to statists, but I realize that if we want liberty minded people to be invited to speak to non-libertarian audience we should invite people that are not entirely libertarian to speak out events. Ayn Rand spoke to college students many of which were not liberty minded.

  4. Seth KingNo Gravatar says:

    I think you guys are misinterpreting Davi. Who wants to listen to somebody that’s old news? Ever since I turned into an anarchist, I am bored to tears when I hear somebody drone on about the Constitution and getting out the vote, etc.

    I’d much rather listen to a speaker that is an anarchist and teaches me ways to empower myself against Leviathan.

    • HReardenNo Gravatar says:

      But my point is that I would like Anarchists to be invited to speak to people who are not Anarchists at events. By inviting minarchists and statists to speak at liberty events about issues they support the liberty position on that encourages non-Anarchist groups to invite Anarchist speakers. I don’t think constantly preaching to the choir is all that productive. You never know where the remnant might turn up.

      • jesse porterNo Gravatar says:

        Can an anarchist have any pretensions to politics? Doesn’t any political action require some compromise of anarchist principles?

        • HReardenNo Gravatar says:

          I don’t consider listening to what someone has to say a political act as such. Listening to one make points gives you the opportunity to counter their points either at the time or at least think of a counter to their points later. By politics I assume you are referring to state politics. Politics exists outside of the state.

          • jesse porterNo Gravatar says:

            By politics, I mean any means of influencing the actions of another person. The state is merely one or more persons taking upon themselves the directing the actions of others, by force if necessary. The motives can be anywhere from altruism to malignancy. The directed person’s acceptance of direction can be motivated, as well, by either extreme. Both the directed and the directing, regardless of motivation, lose humanity in the exchange. Even in the seemingly innocuous exchange of ideas.

            One can pursue knowledge, or one can submit to being taught.