Review From User :
John Jordan aims to encourage a wide range of individuals to have a well-informed debate on how robots should develop in the future and what they should do. The timing is particularly important as robots increasingly impact on the relationship between humans and machines. He is keen that the debate is not just for scientists and politicians but for all of us who have an interest in machines that will have a profound impact on our daily lives in the not too distant future.
He has written a very accessible book that covers a review of the current position and how we got here and, in my view, has achieved his main objective. He explores the work that has been undertaken to define a robot, before taking a broad definition from industrial robots through to more autonomous machines being developed for warfare, care, driverless cars and other uses. This book does not require any technical knowledge of robots.
The author describes the role of robots in popular culture and how they have informed the popular view of robots. He then discusses the current position before taking each of the main topics in turn for more detailed analysis. The technical issues, social and political aspects, including the impact on human behaviour, the economic implications and the need for legal frameworks (for example, who is responsible if driverless cars collide - the manufacturer, the owner or the operator) are discussed. The pros and cons of developing in certain directions are addressed with consideration of what unintended consequences might arise.
At a time when much public debate is based on opinion rather than knowledge and where that opinion, while informed, may be limited in scope, this book is a refreshingly detailed exploration of the wide topic.
The discussion is supported by extensive notes for those who wish to go into further detail. An excellent book - 10/10.
Review by Sheila Bullas
Originally posted: http://www.bcs.org/content/conWebDoc/...
Robots are entering the mainstream. Technologies have advanced to the point of mass commercialization – Roomba, for example – and adoption by governments – most notably, their use of drones. Meanwhile, these devices are being received by a public whose main sources of information about robots are the fantasies of popular culture.
Expand text… We know a lot about C-3PO and Robocop but not much about Atlas, Motoman, Kiva, or Beam – real-life robots that are reinventing warfare, the industrial workplace, and collaboration. In this book, technology analyst John Jordan offers an accessible and engaging introduction to robots and robotics, covering state-of-the-art applications, economic implications, and cultural context.
Jordan chronicles the prehistory of robots and the treatment of robots in science fiction, movies, and television – from the outsized influence of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot (in which Asimov coined the term “robotics”). He offers a guided tour of robotics today, describing the components of robots, the complicating factors that make robotics so challenging, and such applications as driverless cars, unmanned warfare, and robots on the assembly line.
Roboticists draw on such technical fields as power management, materials science, and artificial intelligence. Jordan points out, however, that robotics design decisions also embody such nontechnical elements as value judgments, professional aspirations, and ethical assumptions, and raise questions that involve law, belief, economics, education, public safety, and human identity. Robots will be neither our slaves nor our overlords; instead, they are rapidly becoming our close companions, working in partnership with us – whether in a factory, on a highway, or as a prosthetic device. Given these profound changes to human work and life, Jordan argues that robotics is too important to be left solely to roboticists.