robotic A Reference Guide to the New Technology

Description :
         Human beings have always been fascinated with the concept of artificial life and the construction of machines that look and behave like people. The legend of Pygmalion and the medieval legend of the Golem are examples. Nowhere is the concept of making a living thing out of spare parts more dramatic and exciting than in Mary Shelley’s famous story Dr. Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus (1818). This story has been told and retold in various motion pictures and television shows throughout the twentieth century. Today, whenever people take the time to discuss and extrapolate the evolution of smart machines, their conversations usually include the possible rise of self-aware, intelligent robots that threaten to destroy their human masters.

Modern robots emerged from the confluence of several important technology areas during the digital revolution. But, robots can also trace their technical heritage to the simple machine tools invented in the Neolithic Revolution, disciplines like mechanics, pneumatics, and hydraulics, which emerged in the Scientific Revolution, and the electromechanical devices and machinery, which appeared during the First and Second Industrial Revolutions.What can robots do? Contemporary applications range from doing an accurate and reliable job of spray-painting an automobile on an assembly line, to assisting in surgery performed by a human doctor on a patient who is located hundreds of kilometers away (telemedicine), to accomplishing detailed, automated exploration of previously unreachable worlds throughout the solar system.When viewed in another perspective, robots are really advanced machines that support a continuing revolution in the application of technology in service to human beings. The human race has experienced and prospered from a number of important technology-related revolutions in science and technology.
As presented in this book, the robot, like many other new technologies, is really a two-edged sword. The object itself is neither good nor evil. It is how human beings apply a particular technology (including the robot) that creates the ethical environment and moral climate associated with the technology. When viewed in a purely technical perspective, robots are simply advanced machines that support a continuing revolution in the application of technology in service to human beings. Throughout history, the human race has experienced a number of important technology-related revolutions. With each development came the need for better devices to perform difficult or monotonous tasks. Simple machines like the wheel and axle or the inclined plane yielded major breakthroughs in the ability to perform work. Often these simple machines allowed workers to accomplish tasks previously regarded as extremely dangerous or impossible. The great pyramids of ancient Egypt or Mesoamerica are examples of how early human societies could effectively use such simple machines to perform difficult tasks. But the machines were not self powered or smart. The devices required human labor or animal power to operate and generally needed humans to perform a task. In addition, these devices generally took advantage of physical principles and phenomena (like gravity), which were instinctively or qualitatively perceived, but not well understood from a quantitative or analytical perspective. The quantitative understanding of machines and physical principles underlying their operation could not take place without the Scientific Revolution.