Experiments with Truth: Analysis

The robots of resistance

Why does new technology always seem to serve the rich and powerful?
Meet the MIT visionary who kept asking that question,
as long as he could get away with it.


August 2005: Willcox Playa, Arizona. The air was hot and full of wind, the ground hard and full of cracks, and an aircraft of sorts was flying directly at Josh Levinger’s chest.

It was, put mildly, irregular in composition. Its fuselage was a blue, five-gallon water cooler bottle. Its two three-liter ballast tanks once contained soda, and its aluminum propeller guard came from a bicycle. The engine originally belonged to a weed-whacker and the fabric wing overhead was designed for kite surfing. The machine’s name was Freedom Flies, and almost every part of it was borrowed or homemade.

Of the four-man team testing the airworthiness of Freedom Flies, Josh Levinger, an MIT undergrad, was one of two principle players. The other, holding a radio controller, was the device’s inventor, Chris Csikszentmihályi (pronounced CHEEK sent me HIGH), then an assistant professor at the MIT Media Lab.

More Follow External Link to Luke Yoquinto, The Big Roundtable