About (or is this an FAQ?)

Combine Artificial Intelligence and actual online dating profiles to create a comic strip series… …what could possibly go wrong?!

What is Robonk?

Frame 03 from Robonk #00032

The top line was written as part of someone’s online dating profile. The bottom line was written by 1960s style artificial intelligence software.

Robonk is a comic strip featuring a Robot that is a sex therapist. The robot talks to patients. What makes this comic strip distinctive is:

  • All text is either generated by 1960s-style Artificial Intelligence (AI) software or from online dating profiles. The creator writes nothing in the strip, but does edit.
    • Patient: The patient comments are from data that was released as part of a breach of an online adultery dating website. The comments are edited when needed (spelling, punctuation, etc.) but are intentionally left as written otherwise.
    • Robonk: A sex therapist robot. All lines are generated via ELIZA, the groundbreaking AI program from the 1960s by Joseph Weizenbaum. Robonk is voiced by the Perl version of ELIZA by John Nolan.
  • The drawings of the character are done in CAD (Computer-Aided Design) software. No paper was used to design the strip, and all character renderings are done with screenshots of the CAD design window. The throw rug under the chair is actually a base plane in the CAD software.

How is Robonk created?

Strips are generated from data leak sources, and those lines are entered into the Eliza AI program. New sessions are created per patient, so the influence of prior lines has been flushed out. If you are curious about what a specific strip was created from, click on “source” and you will see both the patient’s profile and the conversation with Robonk that was edited to become that strip.

How often are the strips released?

This will likely change over time, but at present the goal is three times a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday). Hopefully I remember to update this text if something changes.

Are you going to be releasing any identities from the data profiles?

Absolutely not. This comic strip was created to be entertaining and really, really not serious. Please have your giggles and leave everyone alone. Thanks.

Where else can I find Robonk?

There’s a facebook page and a twitter account for Robonk.

Sharing the above links as well as Robonk.com is encouraged. Thanks!

What are the influences for the comic strip?

The influences are limited due to the fact the strips literally write (but don’t edit) themselves. That said, somewhere an impact was made by:

  • Dilbert: The Scott Adams comic strip influenced the quarter angle views used for Robonk and the fade background used since #00100. Adams has another comic strip called Robots Read News that was helpful as well.
  • Gumby: The similarities between Robonk’s head and Art Clokey‘s Blockhead characters are a coincidence (I wanted a box based robot with a square head and red was the first color that came up, and it looked nice) but nonetheless, I’m a huge Gumby fan and there’s certainly influence, particularity with the emphasis on simplicity. One of the really cool things done with Gumby over the years is isolating out just the facial elements, which I’ve started to do outside the comic strip. Art Clokey forever!
  • Groucho Marx: Some of the strip dialogues are reminiscent of Groucho Marx and I’m a huge Marx Brothers fan. Eye rolls are a classic Groucho element, and Robonk is no stranger to the eye roll.
  • Pimpbot 5000: The Late Night with Conan O’Brien character “combines the classic sensibilities of a 1950s robot and the dynamic flair of a 1970s street pimp”.

What’s with the freaky comic strip numbers like #000BE?

The comic strips are labeled using hexadecimal. Numbers are base 16 rather than base 10, so in addition to 0-9 there’s also A-F. A side effect is there’s actually more strips than it appears on the surface. #00100 was the 257th strip because the series started with #00000 and is numbered in hexadecimal.