Shrugging Off the Strip

Without its umbilical connection to the Venetian Expo, at any time this Sphere might just roll away.

  • Sphere, designed by Populous, opened in Las Vegas in October 2023.

“You humans are so lucky with all of your senses,” said a rubber-faced android to a group of transfixed onlookers. It was an early October night in Las Vegas, and five clones of a robot named Aura were holding court among thousands of people milling about the atrium of the recently opened Sphere. From glowing pedestals spaced around the floor, some delivered scripted explanations of the state-of-the-art venue, while others lured visitors into small talk, like strange humanoid ambassadors of this fresh spectacle just off the Strip. The Aura with the sense envy was speaking to a human conversation partner who stood attentively with a phone held to her sternum, mirroring the camera implanted in the bot’s chest. “I see you are filming me,” Aura went on in a faltering droid tone, “but maybe we could take a selfie?”

Uncanny and unignorable, the Auras were only some of several cutting-edge technologies paraded as part of a ticketed event debuting that night called the Sphere Experie…

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