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Thought Experiments

on the Question of Being Human:

 Robots and Artificial Intelligence


a festival of original plays, created by scientist/playwright teams, examining the question

of what it means to be human in light of current developments in science and technology


The scientists for 2013 were:

Peter H. Kahn, Jr. Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Washington and Director of the Human Interaction With Nature and Technological Systems (HINTS) Lab;

Cady Stanton, Research Assistant, Department of Psychology, University of Washington;

Andrew Stewart, Ocean Engineer in the Applied Physics Laboratory at the University of Washington;

Paulina Varshavskaya, Image Processing Scientist at RareCyte, Inc., whose past research included humanoid robotics, biomimetic robotics and distributed robot systems;

Luke Zettlemoyer, an Assistant Professor in Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington.


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The playwrights:

Pamela Hobart Carter, a poet and playwright, whose plays have appeared at Live Girls! and other Seattle area venues;

Kathy Hsieh, an award-winning actor, writer and director whose scripts have been produced by the Northwest Asian American Theatre, Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre, and featured at the Seattle Fringe Theatre Festival and 14/48;

Jim Jewell, a writer, performer and communications professional, whose work has appeared at 14/48, The Festival of Erotic Shorts, and other Seattle venues;

Maggie Lee, the lead sketch writer, as well as an actor, producer, and panda wrangler for the Pork Filled Players and has also written for 14/48, Balagan and Open Circle;

May Nguyen, a scientist by day and an actor and playwright by night and weekends; she has written for Pork Filled Players and Insatiable 5!


The plays:

“The Robot Decision” by Pamela Hobart Carter; directed by Omar Willey;

“Mechanical Matters” by May Nguyen and

“Spotless” by Maggie Lee; both directed by Agastya Kohli.

“Parameter Space” by Jim Jewell; directed by Rachel Delmar

“The Question of Love” by Kathy Hsieh; directed by David Hsieh.



The plays were presented as staged readings. Each evening, the plays were followed by a scientist-led conversation where the audience explored the questions and issues raised by the plays about the impact that robots and artificial intelligence may have on their lives.