Edward Snowden can chill with his U.S. pals anytime he wants; he just needs to open up Suitable Technologies software and connect to his Beam. It’s part Skype, part robot technology, and it’s allowing Snowden to skirt exile.
From his computer in Russia, Snowden can Beam to his robot at the American Civil Liberties office in New York, even appearing on the TED show in March 2014.
Snowden’s lawyer Ben Wizner assisted Snowden in his robotic efforts.
“[It's a] disruptive technology that is a profound response to exile,” Wizner told Forbes Magazine, referring to the robot. “You assume it’s just going to be Skype on wheels, but it’s actually much more intimate than that for both the person operating it and for the people in the room with it because the camera is so good and because it moves independently.”
The five-foot-two robot, called a Beam, displays a 17-inch screen of the user’s face as he controls the robot’s movement. On the TED show in Vancouver, Snowden rolled onto the stage by robot and spoke about surveillance and Internet freedom.
“Who I am really doesn’t matter at all,” Snowden told the TED audience. “If I’m the worst person in the world, you can hate me and move on. What really matters here are the issues. What really matters here are the kind of government we have, the kind of Internet we want.”
Snowden gave a brief overview of his stance on the NSA and what he believes U.S. citizens should know.
“I go to sleep every morning thinking about what I can do for the American people,” Snowden said. “I don’t want to harm my government. The principles of this project have been in public interest.”
In the future, Snowden might be able to communicate with the students of Glasgow University in Glasgow, Scotland, where he is serving as student rector. Wizner hopes to set up a Beam there.
When asked how he liked Canada, Snowden jokingly replied, “Canada’s not what I expected. It’s a lot warmer.”
For now Snowden will have to be content with brief excursions to the ACLU, where he can chat with employees and admire the Statue of Liberty from windows, which Forbes said is “within view from the financial district digs.”