A roboticist imagines life with robots that sell us products, drive our cars, even allow us to assume new physical form, and more.
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. 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 examines the underlying technology and the social consequences of each scenario. He 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.
About the Author
Illah Reza Nourbakhsh is K&L Gates Professor of Ethics and Computational Technologies in the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. He is the author of Robot Futures and coauthor of Introduction to Autonomous Mobile Robots (both published by the MIT Press).
Praise for Robot Futures
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—
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—
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.