I, For One, Welcome Our New Robotic Calligraphers

This robot has been programmed to write out the entire Martin Luther bible in a calligraphic style on a long roll of paper. I wonder if they’re going to bind the pages up and publish it? What the robot does is a step up from print in reproducing the manuscripts made by monks, which is great, though it doesn’t say (though my German isn’t good enough to read the product page) whether the robot arm applies differential pressure and angle of stroke depending on the previous letters, or how far across the line it is, or how far down the page, like a human being would. If it did, then that would in my mind give the work a magical, delicate quality of something written. I don’t want to get all tedious and mystical about some missing innate human or animistic quality, but I like the idea of a robot arm having to stretch a bit at the edges of the page, altering its stroke weight after a particularly arduous cadel previously, all that kind of stuff. I can imagine a whole series of publications that could be given this ‘hand done’ treatment. We could have special editions of books made by one-time-only robot arms, ones that get tired after a number of copies and can’t be made to write any more, books made by robots with a signature style, with minds of their own. All eventually of course leading to original works created by machines so advanced we have to refer to them as human (or post-human) too…

If you fancy emailing me about this, do go ahead, but read this first!

  • I didn’t make this robot, I’m not involved with the team who made it, and what I know about it is written above
  • I am well aware that the original version of the Bible being written was printed, but I’m also aware that the Gutenberg Press had features to attempt to replicate human variation in manuscript writing. My comments are a hope for the future of this machine and not a ‘lament’ or a complaint about it.
  • Please don’t be unpleasant. I have no idea what is so upsetting to people about this robot, but please don’t send me insults.