BAXTER IS BUT a child, with bright eyes and a subtle grin. It sits at a table and cautiously lifts a can of spray paint, then dangles it over a box marked “WIRE.” The error seems to smack Baxter across the face—its eyebrows furrow and blush appears on its cheeks. It swings its arm to an adjacent box marked “PAINT” and drops in the can with a clunk and that spray-paint rattle. “Good,” says a voice off-screen, as Baxter’s face reverts to a grin.
Baxter is in fact a robot, and an industrial one at that, with hulking arms meant for lifting much larger things than cans and wire. Its face is not flesh, but a screen. And its decisions are not entirely its own, but those of a human sitting across the table.