Robot Futures

Overview

With robots, we are inventing a new species that is part material and part digital.
The ambition of modern robotics goes beyond copying humans, beyond the effort to make walking,
talking androids that are indistinguishable from people. Future robots will have superhuman abilities in both the physical and digital realms. They will be embedded in our physical spaces,
with the ability to go where we cannot, and ...

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Robot Futures

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Overview

With robots, we are inventing a new species that is part material and part digital.
The ambition of modern robotics goes beyond copying humans, beyond the effort to make walking,
talking androids that are indistinguishable from people. Future robots will have superhuman abilities in both the physical and digital realms. They will be embedded in our physical spaces,
with the ability to go where we cannot, and will have minds of their own, thanks to artificial intelligence. They will be fully connected to the digital world, far better at carrying out online tasks than we are. In Robot Futures, the roboticist Illah Reza Nourbakhsh considers how we will share our world with these creatures, and how our society could change as it incorporates a race of stronger, smarter beings. Nourbakhsh imagines a future that includes adbots offering interactive custom messaging; robotic flying toys that operate by means of "gaze tracking"; robot-enabled multimodal, multicontinental telepresence; and even a way that nanorobots could allow us to assume different physical forms. Nourbakhsh follows each glimpse into the robotic future with an examination of the underlying technology and an exploration of the social consequences of the scenario.

Each chapter describes a form of technological empowerment -- in some cases, empowerment run amok, with corporations and institutions amassing even more power and influence and individuals becoming unconstrained by social accountability. (Imagine the hotheaded discourse of the Internet taking physical form.) Nourbakhsh also offers a counter-vision: a robotics designed to create civic and community empowerment. His book helps us understand why that is the robot future we should try to bring about.

The MIT Press

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Robotics professor Nourbakhsh (Introduction to Autonomous Mobile Robots) shares his vision of a future in which robotic technology will revolutionize the way humans communicate, collect data, complete tasks, and practice medicine. "Robotic technologies are the living glue connecting the physical and digital all around us." While current applications of robotics are highlighted, such as urban search and rescue robotics, the possibilities that may take form in the coming decades are the focus of this brief discourse. This "technological empowerment" will benefit corporations, militaries, and governments as well as individuals—with the possible drawback that "humans will be inferior to robots in some ways." Each chapter in Nourbakhsh's discussion of current technologies begins with an illustrative, fictional story, narrating a future event of this century. He explores the robotic concepts of perception and cognition, the ethics of robotics and the possibility that they could impact human relations, and the responsibilities that lie with researchers and funding institutions. Urging that these technologies include the needs of citizens and communities, Nourbakhsh recommends review of current curricula to include humanist concerns. Concise and illuminating with few detours into engineering-speak, this book will interest a broad technology-minded audience, from future scientists to data analysts to entrepreneurs. (Mar.)
From the Publisher

"The best parts of the book are the crazy scenarios Nourbakhsh comes up with -- like malfunctioning eye-controlled toy helicopters and robot-enabled infidelity. His preference for a future in which robots are employed to serve communities, not individuals or corporations, is innovative -- if less fun than the nightmare robots that populate his chapters." --
Slate

The MIT Press

"In robotics, there is a fine line between science fiction and science fact. Illah
Reza Nourbakhsh turns out to be a master of straddling that line. In this accessible, smart book, he suggests how plausible robot futures could change our lives." -- George Annas,
New Scientist

The MIT Press

"Concise and illuminating with few detours into engineering-speak, this book will interest a broad technology-minded audience, from future scientists to data analysts to entrepreneurs." -- Publishers Weekly

The MIT Press

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262018623
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 3/31/2013
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 235,924
  • Product dimensions: 5.37 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.43 (d)

Meet the Author

Illah Reza Nourbakhsh is Professor of Robotics at Carnegie Mellon University, where he also directs the Community Robotics, Education, and Technology Empowerment (CREATE) Lab. He is a coauthor of Introduction to Autonomous Mobile Robots (MIT Press).
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