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Allegedly 'Dystopian' Robot Joins Campus Debates

March 17, 2016

A group at Brown University says a “dystopian,” pro-Israel robot harassed students there after a Middle Eastern studies event earlier this month.

Open Hillel, a campus group formed in opposition to restrictive guidelines on Israeli-Palestinian discourse, accused the pro-Israel organization Stand With Us of sending the robot to accost students and demand why they were attending a talk called “Suffocating Embrace? The Future of Palestinians in Israel.”

A robot, operated by a Stand With Us representative, did indeed attend the event. It wore a suit, though its body consisted essentially of a screen on top of a stick affixed to some wheels. But its owner, Roey Tzezana, co-founder of the telecommunication company Tele-Buddy, insisted in a Facebook post that it “absolutely did not ‘harass’ anyone.” He also rejected Open Hillel’s assertion that this might be “the first use of a robot to monitor Israel-Palestine discourse on campus.”


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