Once upon a time robots were the stuff of science fiction books, television shows and the imagination of children. Now there are robots being built for all kinds of reasons in the hopes of making our lives better, safer and more entertaining. From cleaning your house, performing surgery and helping children go to school, robots can do cool things these days.
Regardless of how you feel about robots taking over these tasks, we can not deny that robots are here and a part of our future world. So, why not learn as much as you can about them. Here are some educational tools to start you on your journey of robotic discovery.
I, Robot by Issac Asimov
Issac Asimov is the writer and inventor of the three rules of robotics which govern how a robot should behave and interact with humans. These rules are still used in contemporary fiction about artificial intelligence and the short stories in this book will give you a sense of where much of today's perceptions about robots originated.
The Three Laws of Robotics:
1) A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2) A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3) A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
Robopocalypse by Daniel Wilson
Daniel Wilson has a PhD in robotics so he knows his artificial Intelligence and boy does it show in this action-packed page-turner about a war between AI machines and humans. When a powerful AI computer goes rogue, and all the machines on earth rebel against their human controllers there is very little humans can do but run. Written in a similar fashion to World War Z, where the narration is done through interviews from survivors, it isn't hard to imagine a world where the machines that "help" us turn against us.
Our Robots, Ourselves by David Mindell
"Drawing on firsthand experience, extensive interviews, and the latest research from MIT and elsewhere, Mindell takes us to extreme environments -- high atmosphere, deep ocean, and outer space -- to reveal where the most advanced robotics. In these environments, scientists use robots to discover new information about ancient civilizations, to map some of the world's largest geological features, and even to "commute" to Mars to conduct daily experiments. Mindell argues that the stark lines we've drawn between human and not human, manual and automated, aren't helpful for understanding our relationship with robotics. " - provided by the publisher
This AMC original TV series is set in the not too distant future where androids called Synthetics are developed to help humans simplify their daily lives. These "synths" are so human that they verge on creepy and the show does a great job exploring the social, cultural, and psychological impact these machines have on humans while also being extremely entertaining.
Although this PBS documentary is already a few years old, it's still very prevalent and does a great job showing some of the current robotic technology. The show mainly focuses on the robots that could affect our daily lives in the future, and takes a more optimistic look at what these new gadgets can do for us.
What better way to learn about robots than to get some hands-on experience creating and experimenting with one! The library has many robotics programs available this summer where you can build, draw, or program a robot. Check this list out to see what programs are available at a library near you.
This is an updated version of a post that originally featured a program series that has ended.