While Freedom Baird SM ’98 was pursuing her master’s at MIT, Furbies (remember those? the furry little robot toys that talked?) were all the rage, and Freedom started thinking about the connection between machines and dolls. She wondered: Are machines are more alive than dolls?
More than a decade has passed, but Baird still has Furbies on the brain. In fact, in a recent Radiolab episode, hosts Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich help Baird conduct an experiment with a number of small children, involving a barbie doll, a hamster, and of course, her Furby. Curiosity piqued? Check out the podcast, available at http://www.radiolab.org/2011/may/31/. Baird’s segment is about 30 minutes in.