Robot Futures

Illah Reza Nourbakhsh, Author
Illah Reza Nourbakhsh. MIT, $24.95 (160p) ISBN 978-0-262-01862-3
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Robotics professor Nourbakhsh (Introduction to Autonomous Mobile Robots) shares his vision of a future in which robotic technology will revolutionize the way humans communicate, collect data, complete tasks, and practice medicine. "Robotic technologies are the living glue connecting the physical and digital all around us." While current applications of robotics are highlighted, such as urban search and rescue robotics, the possibilities that may take form in the coming decades are the focus of this brief discourse. This "technological empowerment" will benefit corporations, militaries, and governments as well as individuals—with the possible drawback that "humans will be inferior to robots in some ways." Each chapter in Nourbakhsh's discussion of current technologies begins with an illustrative, fictional story, narrating a future event of this century. He explores the robotic concepts of perception and cognition, the ethics of robotics and the possibility that they could impact human relations, and the responsibilities that lie with researchers and funding institutions. Urging that these technologies include the needs of citizens and communities, Nourbakhsh recommends review of current curricula to include humanist concerns. 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. (Mar.)
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