Letter: To Kanye West

Context: This is the Beyonce video that Kanye West claimed during the VMAs is the greatest video of all time.



Dear Mr. West,

I understand. I know you’ve taken a lot of flack for interrupting Taylor Swift at the VMA awards this year, but I understand why you committed an act of such shockingly poor PR skills. I know–it’s okay. Your genius did not go unnoticed; and from one computer scientist to another, good on you, man.

The first time I watched the Beyonce video that you stole the mic from Miss Swift to laud, I was awestruck by how lifelike your android Beyonce was. (I’ll refer to her henceforth as BeyonceBot, as that’s what I imagine you call her.) What incredible attention to detail! The balance that she and her backup bots exhibit is truly astounding. Tell me, Kanye, are you working on a paper describing how you managed that? I understand if you need to withhold some of the details in order to maintain profitability for the robotic chorus dancer company I suspect you are starting, but such a scientific breakthrough needs to be shared for the good of humanity! The application goes far beyond back-up dancers who are always perfectly in step from the first rehearsal. Consider sharing some of your breakthroughs–the scientific community would be grateful.

Your BeyonceBot is such a dead ringer for the real Beyonce that only someone who knew what they were looking for would be able to recognize the doppelganger. It was the sound of the servos that clued me in. What most of the world dismisses as a neat synthesizer effect is a sound any roboticist would know–the whirring of gears and motors in a servo. I was at first surprized that with as much skill as you obviously incorporated into their movement protocols that you did not also invest in developing silent servos, but I suppose there are limits even to your time and funding. I do wonder if leaving BeyonceBot’s arm wiring exposed was the best idea, though–continuing the skin over that area would protect it from dust and other abrasives. Did you leave it exposed for easy access to the control mechanisms, or was it some kind of damage incurred during filming? It was still cleverly disguised, however. For the casual observer it appears an elaborate piece of jewelry, a shiny gauntlet. Most of the world is none the wiser.

So thank you, Mr. West, for the contribution you have made to the field of robotics. Once you publish a journal article or two about the science beyond BeyonceBot, I feel sure that leading universities will be beating down your door to give you PhDs, an award at least as satisfying as a VMA. Until that day, however, please know that you are in my thoughts. Your magnificent robots deserve at least much fanfare as you attempted to give them at the VMAs. Perhaps next time you will consider simply mailing a paper to ACM, where it will truly be appreciated. That video truly is the greatest music video of all time, and also the scientific breakthrough of the century.


Rachel Shadoan
Computer Scientist

Letter: To Kanye West

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