Industrialization and Robots – Simone Chen

Let me touch a bit on industrialization before I dive into a long rant about robots. Industrialization has, essentially, played a major role in allowing humans tread on the path of creation. If feats like Henry Ford’s creation of the assembly line and Frederick Winslow Taylor’s Taylorism were never made then surely the various systems that current society is based upon would be chaotic. Imagine if McDonald’s (or higher end restaurants) didn’t have an assembly line within their kitchen; customers would wait forever just to receive their food. Or if workers (whether they be those in factories or business offices) didn’t have an actual procedure they needed to follow when conducting and where able to finish their job in whatever fashion they desired. The workplace would be unorganized, inefficient, and all customers would receive “different” treatment. What a frenzy everyone would be in if procedures weren’t standardized and inefficient! People would spend more time trying to figure out how to improve upon the issues placed in front of them rather than jumping out of the box to create something new and innovative (like robots, nano-machines, and the like!) Hence I really have to acknowledge the importance of industrialization.Ok, now shifting focus onto robotics. When you hear the word “robot”, what sort of images flash through your mind? Humongous metallic objects with sharp shiny claws? Small white astronaut-like beings that move around in a cute klutzy manner? Or maybe even humanoid shapes that spout out phrases like “I am a robot” in a rigid way?

 

According to Britannica, the term “robot” is actually a rather modern term derived from the Czech word robota (meaning “forced labor” or “serf”). However, when I think of the word “robot” I think of R2D2 or C3PO (yes I think I’ve been influenced by “Star Wars”). So art/media definitely has an influence on people when it comes to impressions or images of certain things. However, even art doesn’t provide one definitive image of what a robot is because “One of the most problematic issues of robotics in art is the very definition of what a robot is.” According to an article in the Art Journal, it states the complications involved in defining a “robot”:

“…on the one hand, we have mythological traditions of various cultures. These traditions have originated fantastic synthetic creatures, such as the ancient Greek story of Galatea [1] –a statue brought to life by the goddess Aphrodite — or the Jewish legend of the Golem, a speechless anthropoid made of clay by humans [2]. On the other hand, we find more recent literary traditions offering fictional profiles of automata, robots, cyborgs, androids, telerobots, and replicants. Another aspect of the problem is the operational definition of robots as found in scientific research and industrial applications.”

So from this we can see that a “robot” is not a specific ‘thing’ but more of a labeling for a certain ‘type’ of machines (though everyone probably knew all of this intuitively already). And it really is fascinating, seeing the various types of robots out there in the world. It always surprises me how creative some people can be. For instance look at this picture:

What do you think it is? This machine known as Yuki-Taro is a 800-pound robot that is guided by GPS and a couple of video cameras. It “gorges itself on the snow that’s covering your driveway…[and] packs all that snow together into two-foot-tall cube-shaped ice turds. The idea is that you’d store away those blocks of ice to cool down your brewskis in the summer”.But robots don’t always have to be serf-like figures that follow directions from a remote control; they can also be worn on the body to enhance physical capabilities. As shown in the following picture.

Also, robots don’t necessarily need to be big to be of any use. They could be small like nanobots! Come to think of it, there are an infinite number of possibilities to be explored in robotics, so we could sit back and wait and soon there’ll be something else crazy out there in the market to be seen and possibly used.  

Resources:http://search.eb.com/eb/article-9063935

http://www.ekac.org/roboticart.html

http://www.technovelgy.com/ct/Science-Fiction-News.asp?NewsNum=402

If anyone is interested in “robot choreography” here’s an interesting link – http://www.jstor.org/view/0024094x/ap050161/05a00050/0

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