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The Robot Reel

Robot Day

Aug 29

Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day

Today's Musings, History & Folklore

“... You just can't differentiate between a robot and the very best of humans.” ~ Isaac Asimov, I, Robot (1950)

Robophobia is an actual anxiety disorder in which a person has an irrational fear of robots, drones, robot-like mechanics, or artificial intelligence. Sufferers experience panic attacks triggered by situations such as viewing a robot, being near a robot, or even just talking about robots! Many famous people including Bill Gates, Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk allegedly suffer from this disorder. 🤖

The Robot Reel

The word “robot” comes from the Czech word robota, which means “forced labor.” It originally referred to peasants, who were obligated to work for their lords under the feudal system.

The terms “android” and “robot” tend to be used somewhat interchangeably, but have very distinct meanings.

A robot that resembles a human is called an android.

One of the earliest examples of robotic design dates back to 1478.  Leonardo da Vinci created a spring-driven autonomous system that created a sensation at the royal court.

By the late 1730s, Jacques de Vaucanson created a series of notable automata in Grenoble, France. His first automaton was a flute player that could play twelve songs. Shortly after, he created a mechanical duck with over 400 parts in the wings alone and carefully weighted parts to make it move like a real duck. The duck could even eat, digest, and excrete food.

Today nano-robots are being designed to to fit into extremely small spaces to perform a function. Research continues to develop nanobots that could eventually be placed in the blood stream to perform delicate surgical procedures too difficult for standard surgery.

Humans are both fascinated and fearful of their creations, leading to well known cautionary tales in early science fiction and today's debates about cyberlaw, cyberethics, and robot ethics.  Robot ethics is a growing interdisciplinary research effort roughly situated in the intersection of applied ethics and robotics with the aim of understanding the ethical implications and consequences of robotic technology, in particular, autonomous robots.


Foreshadowing all of this was The Three Laws of Robotics, a set of rules devised by the science fiction author Isaac Asimov, best remembered in his 1950 story collection, "I Robot." 

The Three Laws, quoted as being from the "Handbook of Robotics, 56th Edition, 2058 A.D.", are:

  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 the orders given 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 Laws.

Asimov later  added a "Zeroth Law" - stating that a robot may not injure humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.   


Listen up, robots!


For more fascinating robot facts, click the collage of Jacques de Vaucanson's robotic duck!

The Robot Reel

Click the dance cribs or description below to link to a printable version of the dance!

The Robot Reel

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