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A robot such as they are often shown in movies.

A robot is a machine or a computer program which seems to have a life of its own. They can come in many forms.[1]

Many people think that a robot:

  • Is not 'natural' / was made by man.
  • Can see, hear or feel.
  • Can do a job / useful work.
  • Is intelligent, or can make choices.
  • Can be programmed to do different things.
  • Can move.
  • Seems to have a life of its own, like an animate object.[2]
  • Is roughly the same shape as a human.

There are many books, movies, and video games with robots in them.

History[change | change source]

People have been interested in building machines to do work for us for a long time. But it takes time and money to build just one machine, so early ideas stayed ideas, or were built to make rich people laugh. Leonardo da Vinci designed a man-shaped machine to look like a knight in 1464. It would be controlled with ropes and wheels. Other engineers and dreamers drew mechanical men. So in 1920, Karel Čapek wrote a novel about them, and he used a word from Czech that is connected with 'work': robot. But the most successful robot designs in the 1900s were not made to look like people. They were designed for their use. George Devol made the first of these, the Unimate, in 1954, and General Motors bought it in 1960. The next year, it started work in a factory in New Jersey. The engineers could program it, and reprogram it if they had to.

Modern Robots[change | change source]

Industrial robot, used for welding

Robots now have many uses. Many factories use robots to do lots of hard work quickly and without many mistakes. These are 'industrial' robots. The military uses robots to find and get rid of bombs. If someone makes a mistake, the robot is damaged or destroyed, which is better than a person being killed. There are also robots that help at home, to vacuum or cut grass, for example. Such robots must learn about the area of work. There are two robots on Mars. Because it takes a long time to send a signal from Earth to Mars, the robots do much of their work alone, without commands from Earth. People still think of robots as having a shape like a person—two legs, two arms, and a head. ASIMO is one robot that is helping scientists learn how to design and program robots. It can walk, which is not easy to program.

Eastern and Western Views[change | change source]

Eastern Thoughts on Robots[change | change source]

Roughly half of all the robots in the world are in Asia, 32% in Europe, and 16% in North America, 1% in Australasia and 1% in Africa.[3] 30% of all the robots in the world are in Japan.[4] Japan has the most robots of any country in the world, and is the leader in the world robotics industry.[5] Japan is actually said to be the robotic capital of the world.[6]

In Japan and South Korea, ideas of future robots have been mainly positive. The positive reception of robots there may be partly because of the famous cartoon robot, 'Astroboy'. China expressed views on robotics that are similar to those of Japan and South Korea, but China is behind both America and Europe in robotic development. The East Asian view is that robots should be roughly equal to humans. They feel robots could care for old people, teach children, or serve as assistants. The popular opinion of East Asia is that it would be good for robots to become more popular and more advanced. This view is opposite to the popular Western view.

"This is the opening of an era in which human beings and robots can co-exist," says Japanese firm Mitsubishi about one of the many human-like robots in Japan.[7] The South Korean Ministry of Information and Communication has predicted that every South Korean household will have a robot by between 2015 and 2020.

Western Thoughts on Robots[change | change source]

Western societies are more likely to be against, or even fear the development of robots. Science fiction movies and other stories often show them as dangerous rebels against humanity.

The West regards robots as a 'threat' to the future of humans, which is also muchly due to religious influence of the Abrahamic religions, in which creating machines that can think for themselves would almost be playing God.[6][8] Obviously, these boundaries are not clear, but there is a significant difference between the two ideologies.

Robot Laws[change | change source]

The writer Isaac Asimov told many stories about robots who had three robot laws to keep them safe, as well as to keep humans safe from them.

  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.

These were not used in real life when he invented them. However, in today's world robots are more complicated, and one day real laws may be needed, much like Isaac Asimov's original three laws.

These laws are talked about in the Megaman video games.

South Korea was the first country in the world to have laws about robots.[9][10]

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. Flexible, Bio-Inspired Machines Are the Future of Engineering; Flexible, one-piece machines could soon make today's assemblages of rigid parts look like antiques May 1, 2014 issue Scientific American
  2. Brandweek: Even Robot Suicide Is No Laughing Matter
  3. Robots Today and Tomorrow: IFR Presents the 2007 World Robotics Statistics Survey; World Robotics; 2007-10-29; retrieved on 2007-12-14
  4. Reporting by Watanabe, Hiroaki; Writing and additional reporting by Negishi, Mayumi; Editing by Norton, Jerry;Japan's robots slug it out to be world champ; Reuters; 2007-12-02; retrieved on 2007-01-01
  5. Lewis, Leo; The robots are running riot! Quick, bring out the red tape; TimesOnline; 2007-04-06; retrieved on 2007-01-02
  6. 6.0 6.1 Biglione, Kirk; The Secret To Japan's Robot Dominance; Planet Tokyo; 2006-01-24; retrieved on 2007-01-02
  7. Domestic robot to debut in Japan ; BBC News; 2005-08-30; retrieved on 2007-01-02
  8. Yang, Jeff; ASIAN POP Robot Nation Why Japan, and not America, is likely to be the world's first cyborg society; SFGate; 2005-08-25; retrieved on 2007-01-02
  9. Robotic age poses ethical dilemma; BBC News; 2007-03-07; retrieved on 2007-01-02;
  10. Spencer, Richard (2007-03-08). "S Korea devises 'robot ethics charter'". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2013-03-27.

Other websites[change | change source]

Wikibooks has more about this subject:
English Wiktionary
The English Wiktionary has a dictionary definition (meanings of a word) for: robot
Research societies

References[change | change source]