Co-existing with Robots: Exploring Robotics through Time

by | Aug 27, 2023

In their enlightening book titled “Living with Robots,” authors Ruth Aylett and Patricia A Vargas take readers on a captivating journey through the history, challenges, and potential of robotics research. The authors astoundingly trace the roots of robotics back 2,500 years, highlighting the impact of ancient myths and tales on the field as we know it today.

Despite the incredible progress made in robotics, the current state of the field is still far from perfect. Robots continue to struggle in matching the complexity and flexibility of human behavior, and the ultimate goal of achieving artificial general intelligence remains elusive. Aylett and Vargas shed light on the technical and ethical challenges faced by scientists and engineers in their pursuit of more advanced robotic systems.

“Living with Robots” offers readers a comprehensive exploration of this fascinating realm, delving into topics such as robot sensing, movement, learning, problem-solving, collaboration, emotional recognition, ethics, and artificial intelligence. The authors emphasize the interdisciplinary nature of robotics, stressing the need for collaboration between different domains to unlock its full potential.

The impact of robotics on society cannot be ignored. Robots possess the ability to evoke strong emotions and make grand claims. Aylett and Vargas stress the importance of responsible development, urging collaboration between citizens and scientists to ensure that robotics technology is beneficial and liberating. They emphasize the need to consider the social, economic, and political contexts in which robotics research takes place.

Furthermore, the benefits of robotics research extend beyond the field itself. Contributions to cognition, physiology, social cooperation, and neuroscience have emerged from this realm, enriching our understanding of these areas. The potential for spin-off benefits is vast.

Looking towards the future, the authors recognize the crucial need for ethical considerations in the development of robotics. Yoshua Bengio, a Turing Award winner, emphasizes the importance of international regulation to address concerns about lethal autonomous weapons. Aylett and Vargas call for a responsible approach that takes into account the ever-changing landscapes of society, economics, and politics.

Despite the challenges, robotics research has achieved remarkable progress. Applications such as robot-assisted search and rescue operations, collaborative robots (cobots) in industries, and robotic mobility aids for individuals with disabilities have the power to revolutionize various sectors and improve lives.

In conclusion, “Living with Robots” is an accessible and well-balanced guide to the world of robotics. It takes readers on an intriguing journey through history, explores current challenges, and envisions a promising future. Aylett and Vargas invite us to contemplate the impact of robotics on our lives and emphasize the importance of approaching this transformative journey with caution, collaboration, and a sense of responsibility. As we navigate the complex relationship between humans and robots, the future of robotics lies in our hands.