Thursday, 10 February 2011

I want a robot, too!

iRobot 560 Roomba Vacuuming Robot, Black and SilverNeato XV-11 All Floor Robotic Vacuum SystemEvolution Robotics Mint Automatic Hard Floor Cleaner, 4200

Remember HAL9000 from 2001, A Space Odyssey: "I know you and Frank were planning to disconnect me, and I'm afraid that's something I cannot allow to happen" or ED209 from Robocop: "Please put down your weapon. You have 20 seconds to comply"?

Of course we mustn't forget Star Wars' R2-D2 or Knight Rider's Kitt either.

Love them or hate them, the movie industry has been having a serious fixation with robots ever since Maria appeared in Fritz Lang's Metropolis in 1926.

And, did you know that Aristotle said way back in 320 BC or thereabouts, “If every tool, when ordered, or even of its own accord, could do the work that befits it... then there would be no need either of apprentices for the master workers or of slaves for the lords.”

30 years before that, Archytas, the Greek mathematician, built the first robot (a mechanical bird) propelled by steam.

We have come a long way since then, naturally. Robots are now widely used commercially and scientifically in areas such as assembly, space exploration, scientific research, etc.

But what about in the home? Just today I was thinking... cleaning the house is a nightmare. It's time-consuming and the house never stays clean for more than a few hours at best! Wouldn't it be nice to have a noiseless robot do it for me?

For others, that isn't good enough. They want robots to be able to interact socially; they want them to be able to monitor us with out diets...

Who needs babysitters?

Cynthia Breazeal, director of Personal Robots Group at MIT’s Media Lab, talks about the creation of fascinating robots, and it seems that she's opened a can of worms with what she's been doing. Listen to her, and tell us of what you think.

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