Metro Tech

Last Night at New York Tech Meet-Up: Who Needs Human Friends in the Age of Robots?

"This is fine, we have robots talking to robots, this is the future."

goldrun Last Night at New York Tech Meet Up: Who Needs Human Friends in the Age of Robots?Hack of the month, or hack of all time? CouchCachet is a social app that scours your neighborhood for cool events, then lies to your friends and says you’re at all of them. “While you’re home on a Friday night,” Brian Fountain said last night at the New York Tech Meetup. “Couch Cachet will look around your neighborhood, find a cool party and check you in on Foursquare, so your friends can see how active of a lifestyle that you lead.”

There’s more: it can tweet indie rock lyrics or your feelings on the new microbrew you just discovered. It can upload Twitter pics of the sexy 20-somethings you met on your journey through the Gotham night. What happens if one of your friends is at the party CouchCachet selects for you? Not going to happen, because the app uses a Foursquare parameter that lets you search for locations your friends have never visited. And if all your friends start using the service? “This is fine, we have robots talking to robots,” Mr. Fountain said. “This is the future.”

On the other hand, who needs friends. Unsure whether the cute guy you just met is ignoring you, or just really busy? Post the specifics to dating advice service HeTexted, and let 40 strangers break the bad news. Make that hundreds of strangers. At the prodding of HeTexted cofounder Carrie Henderson-McDermott, an audience member named Victoria recounted a scenario: She’d met a guy at a party, he asked her out, then texted days later to say he’d come down with something. By an overwhelming show of hands, the audience agreed: Sorry, Victoria, he’s just not that into you.

What do Mark Zuckerberg, Marissa Mayer, Fred Wilson and Gollum have in common? They all showed up in RunGold CEO Vivian Rosenthal’s demo. The company earned notice in 2011 when it helped shoe seller Airwalk create something called an invisible pop-up store in Washington Square Park. Now it’s using its augmented reality chops to help users create and share images with branded content. Photo-bombs away!

Also virtual, these days: your medical care. At least, if you work for Tumblr, Percolate or another company buying employee health plans from Sherpaa. Companies pay $1,000 to $4,000 per employee; in non-emergency cases, employees enter their symptoms over Sherpaa’s online platform; doctors are on call 24-7 to dole out advice and certain treatments, and route patients to the appropriate specialists. How does the company suss out drug-seeking behavior, an audience member asked? Sherpaa doesn’t prescribe narcotics, founder Jay Parkinson said. “If you’re overdosing on amoxicillin—well, I’ve never actually seen that.”

Follow Patrick Clark on Twitter or via RSS. pclark@observer.com