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What do you think? Is this an alternate reality game? - Aaron Delwiche
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Aaron Delwiche
Date: 2008-10-07 12:03
Subject: What do you think? Is this an alternate reality game?
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The UK tabloid newspaper The Sun recently published an article about a creepy, life-like robot that boasts "silicon skin."  According to the article:

"It has 50 sensors and a series of motors to help it move and has been built to help pensioners and disabled people move better. Japanese boffins from Tsukuba University developed the Hybrid Assistive Limb (HAL) suit using flexible silicon skin. And robotics company Cyberdyne Inc are set to start making it on a mass scale on Friday." (Full article at: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/article1777667.ece)

In addition to the overall creepiness of the robot (see the video on the tabloid's site), there are other red flags which suggest that this might be a promotional alternate reality game (ARG). HAL is the name of the artificially intelligent computer in 2001, and Cyberdyne is the name of the evil company that cranks out human-exterminating robots in the Terminator series.

A new Terminator movie (starring Christian Bale) is on the horizon, and the (totally awesome) Sarah Connor Chronicles just started its second season. Therefore, all signs point to this being part of an alternate reality game. Right?

There's just one small problem: Cyberdyne is a real company and it has been garnering headlines for the past four years. An article in Japan Times on August 13, 2004 discussed the HAL suit and describes it as a "culmination of science fiction dreams." An article about the HAL suit and Cyberdyne appeared in London's Daily Telegraph on April 4, 2006. The Nikkei Weekly noted on September 3, 2007 that Cyberdyne was opening an Amsterdam branch to handle European accounts. An article about the company's bionic super-suit appeared in New Scientist on April 9, 2005. (See: http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=mg18624945.800)

These are not mocked-up HTML pages, but actual newspaper articles in the Lexis/Nexis database. So, there seem to be two possible explanations:

1. This is part of an elaborate alternate reality game that has been planned for the past several years, or

2. There is actually a company called Cyberdyne that specializes in creepy, life-like robots and bionic super-suits that can increase an individual's strength by a factor of ten.

Either explanation is fairly mind-boggling. What do you think?


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