The History of Robotics
When I was about six or seven, I can remember a robot that talked and walked. His name was Robby, and he was from a show called Lost In Space. This robot debuted in a movie called “Forbidden Planet.”
Until the late 70’s, this had been my vision of a robot. Then came Westworld and the six million dollar man, and my vision had again changed. I wondered to myself, were some of these ideas strictly fiction, or did they have some basis in fact?
The answer was more diverse than you may think. The reality of it is that robots have been with us since ancient Rome. The Romans invented devices that seemed magical and miraculous, but in reality were just an intelligent use of gears, levers, liquids, and gravity.
They paved the way for the industrial revolution on the early eighteen century. Although the plague had been a major setback for Europe, once civilization rebuilt itself, they wanted ways to make agriculture easier. Machines were built to achieve this, and this led to machines being used to create products in factories. But were these actually robots?
The first real human-like automaton was built in 1810. It was a simple device that could only make limited movements. When HG Wells created the War of the Worlds, robots took on a whole new light as a weapon of destruction. As the twentieth century boomed in, factories began to use robotic devices more and more. Once cars went into production, they became essential to the process of building them. During the fifties, there another boom in science fiction, and it seemed every story had at least one robot in its plot. Who can forget Issac Asimov’s famous “I Robot?”
So why didn’t I add a robot into my story? The truth is-I have, but not in Dimension Lapse. I am currently writing a sequel that has a robot, but I do not want to disclose any more information than that because I don’t want to spoil it for you. My goal is to have it done by the end of 2015.
As Robots progressed, they helped NASA perform missions that were too hostile for humans, helped doctors perform procedures with precision accuracy, and helped commerce produce globally with ease.
We often hear of robots, cyborgs, and androids in all kinds of science fiction, but what is the difference between the three? Tomorrow we will discuss just exactly what robots can do and what they can do as opposed to the other two. Until then, here are the links of the day:
When everyone thinks of robots, they think of Robbie the robot, 3CPO and R2D2 from Star wars. They are creations from science fiction, mechanical beings that can look like humans, but don’t always have to. What makes a robot different from your basic computer, cell phone or any other mechanical electrical device?
What sets a robot apart is its ability to perform an manual function by using sensors, arms, legs, wheels or any other catalyst that helps it to grab, lift, or move in a human-like manner. Like I said in yesterday’s post, they have have been with us since ancient times for our amusement. But when did they start creating them for practical purposes?
In 1954, Henry Ford Motor Company produced the first robotic arm to increase production of their automobiles. Shortly after that, many other companies followed suit. Today, nearly 80 % of an automobile is made using robots. In the early sixties, NASA began using robots instead of jeopardizing human lives, and still does today with their Mars rovers. In 2004, they produced a robot similar to an actual astronaut, and it performs many functions that are dangerous to humans. One day, they will be an everyday part of life.
One of my favorite stories is “I Robot,” by Issac Asimov. It was about a robot named Sonny who became self aware of his own destiny and interaction with humans. In the book, Asimov mentions the three
rules of robots. One is not to harm humans. I firmly believe that robots would not overthrow humans because it would eliminate their
purpose to serve humans. Unless they became self aware, such as an artificial intelligence and determined it was not in their best interest to do so, they would probably just follow orders. It’s a great story about what it really means to be human.
Robots probably will enhance our lives in many ways, and the evidence is already there, in robotic surgery, production, and bionics. They have replaced some jobs, but they have opened fields in many others, providing you have the education and know how. Tomorrow we will be discussing the field of bionics and cyborgs. Please join me. Here are today’s links:
All of us who grew up in the 70’s remember the intro to the series. Steve Austin, astronaut, on a flight mission suffers from a crash. But we can rebuild him, make him better than he was….Better, faster, stronger. We have the technology to build the first bionic man. I can remember saying “yea, right,” like it was some sort of science fiction. Back then it was just that. But as technology advanced and medicine advanced it has become a mainstay of science.
But what is a cyborg, and what are bionics? Well, one thing I can tell you is it is not- Robocop, Data from Star trek or the terminator. That is tomorrow’s segment. A cyborg is a living being connected by some some form of bio-mechanical parts- Steve Austin is the prime example! When soldiers began to lose their limbs and battle even as earlier as twenty years ago, they had few options. Most of the prosthetic devices available were awkward and bulky. Today there are devices that allow a man or woman to run even faster than they did before, but they are extremely expensive.
Then there is the other part of the equation-how to make such devices move with the function of the mind itself. Scientists have already solved this problem, and are now working on even creating bio-engineered tissue that will one day enable us to even grow limbs back-AMAZING!
It’s funny how some of the shows, books, and movies that I grew up with are slowing becoming reality. The Six Million Dollar Man was one of my favorites. I still remember the Bigfoot episode, who also turned out to be a form of a robot!
Not too long ago, I can remember seeing a man waiting for a bus across the road. He had those same mechanical limbs I spoke of. When he ran to catch the bus, he did it like he had been born with them! The military has also used bionics to build exoskeletons which are capable of making soldiers run faster, lift things they ordinarily wouldn’t lift, and enhance endurance. Who can forget Ripley in Aliens giving her adversary a good shot to the head with her exoskeleton!
One day they will create bio-chips that will be able to stimulate and correct the causes of brain disorders. There may also be implants to allow you to actually merge with a computer’s hard drive-Like Tron or Lawnmower Man. Now that’s a scary thought! I myself prefer the simpler life. I try not to rely on too much technology, for fear that we may someday lose it. That’s why I will always rely on the power of pen and paper. You can never lose history that way. Tomorrow, I will be talking about what androids are, and how soon we can expect them. Will we control them, or will they control us? Find out tomorrow on the blog! Here are the links for the day:
When we think about androids, the first vision that comes to mind are the androids in Star Trek. An android isn’t much different than a robot, other than it being more human-like in appearance. A cyborg, as we saw yesterday is robotic and biological. Androids are similar in one respect in that they sometimes can have synthetic living system like a cyborg, but they are usually robotic and not biological.
Japan has led in this field for several years. Two scientists at Osaka University, Hiroshi Ishiguro and Minato Takashi have developed fully operational synthetic and robotic androids that have real human hair, synthetic skin, and even have fully functional ivory teeth. Although only in its infancy, android development is becoming a major field of study. One day, androids will be able to perform many tasks that are dangerous to humans, and be able to function in hostile environments, such as Mars, and in space.
I can remember the first android episode in Star Trek, where they had made a duplicate of Kirk and Nurse Chapel asked Kirk why he
wasn’t eating. “Androids don’t eat, Ms Chapel,” was his response.
She couldn’t tell the difference. Although some technologies in the show haven’t happened yet, this one is right around the corner.
In my next book, in production until December 2015, I have added an android in the mix to the world of Jeff Walker. He is very much like Data, but he is of oriental design, like Takashi’s android. He also has a sense of humor equivalent to any human’s. Tomorrow we will discuss ways that robots and androids will change our future, for better or worse. Until then, here are today’s links:
THE FUTURE OF ROBOTICS, BIONICS, AND ANDROID DEVELOPMENT
What will the future hold for mankind if robots, bionics, and androids become an everyday part of life? The truth is they already have. Our whole culture is based on computer and robot technology, from our cell phones, to our laps tops, readers, to areas in medicine, the military, and so on. If the digital grid went off line tomorrow, we wouldn’t know what to do.
Androids, cyborgs, and robots have been embedded in our society, from the sci-fi classics like I Robot,and 2001 Space Oddessy to television and movies such as Star Trek, Aliens, and Terminator.
In the area of medicine, we have robots like the DaVinci robot that can perform minimally invasive surgery, to bionic limbs and exoskeletons that can help people walk again.
Robots will perform functions that will be essential to further development in space travel. NASA already has one robot that can perform a lot of functions without the need for air or a suit. Probes and rovers have made exploration much easier, and will in the
very near future. Next week, the Rosetta Probe will be the first probe to actually land a moving celestial object(comet.)
Then there’s the everyday life in which robots become cleaners and caretakers of the elderly. Imagine having your own butler to clean, cook, and help you with laundry; there will one day be robots who can perform all three functions, and many more.
The military uses exoskeletons to help their men endure on the battlefield, drones to attack from air without sacrificing human pilots and missle guidance systems to control accuracy of a target.
And then, there’s the frightening science fiction side of robots.
Will someday robots demand their rights to be something other than robots? Will they rise up like in I Robot, or The Terminator? Or will we ourselves become the robots, creating replicas of ourselves, implanting our brains and memories into a android so that we can live forever? Will robots, cyborgs, and androids be the saviors of mankind or the destruction of it. God only knows what could happen in the next fifty years. Join me Monday for a brand new series.
Until then, here are today’s links: