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Video simulacrum

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Mjsimulcra

A video simulacrum with the face of Michael Jackson.

Khomeini simulacrum

Another video simulacrum shows the faces of Ayatollah Khomeini and Ronald Reagan.

"There was still something strange about this place [the Cafe 80's], though. A good part of it, Marty thought, had to be the counter help. They weren't human, for one thing, but some kind of robots with large video screens that switched between showing human faces and food items. Beneath each robot's screen was a tray to carry food, but — for some reason — all of the robots also sported a pair of metallic wings to either side of their screens. Wings? Marty hoped they were just there for decoration."
—From Back to the Future Part II by Craig Shaw Gardner (quote, pages 27 and 28)

A video simulacrum was an artificial-intelligence computer program designed and programmed with a certain human's likeness and behavior patterns to interact with any individual they were in contact with.

Such simulacra with the faces of Michael Jackson, Ronald Reagan, and Ayatollah Khomeini were used as video waiters in the Cafe 80's in Hill Valley of 2015, with the television screens being of the JVC brand. All three were given a mannequin-like appearance, a rotating graphic background, and a tendency to stutter, in imitation of 1980s television character Max Headroom.

Actuality

  • While video waiter simulcra like those seen at the Cafe 80's have yet to be invented, robot drink trolleys — which can sense which customer helps themselves to which beverage — are already in use in many restaurants in Japan. Also, touchscreen menus are now being used in many restaurants in the United States.

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