What to Expect When You’re Expecting Robots: The Future of Human-Robot Collaboration

Laura Major and Julie Shah. Basic, $30 (304p) ISBN 978-1-5416-9911-3
Factory workers, personal shoppers, delivery persons, security guards: the robots are coming, and this timely book looks at what humans should be doing to prepare. Shah, an MIT associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics, and Major, CTO for an automaker’s self-driving car division, lay their argument’s groundwork with a brief look at early autonomous systems in aviation and the space program. Autopilots allow pilots to handle long flights, and Apollo Program missions relied on automated computer guidance to get to the moon and back. Looking ahead to the future, Major and Shah discuss how robots will change everyday life (noting that “as working moms with an ever-growing to-do list, we personally look forward to these changes”) and also create problems. One issue arises from the human tendency to assign personalities to devices; in fact, “the more anthropomorphic the system is, the more likely a person is to inappropriately rely on its suggestions, advice, or actions.” Another problem is overcrowding and traffic—for instance, San Francisco already had to limit the number of sidewalk delivery robots in 2017. With some 30 million robots currently employed in homes around the world, Major and Shaw show where current expectations are accurate, and where both humans and robots still have a lot to learn. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 07/22/2020
Release date: 10/13/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
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