See 500 years of robots Charllotte Abbot shakes hands with Pepper an interactive French-Japanese robot, during a press preview for the Robots exhibition held at the Science Museum in London, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
See 500 years of robots
Lexile

Inspired by his belief that human beings are essentially terrified of robots, Ben Russell has set about charting the evolution of automatons. It is for an exhibition in England. He hopes it will force people to think about how androids and other robotic forms can enhance their lives.
 
Robots, says Russell, have been with us for centuries. "Robots," his exhibit at London's Science Museum, shows how.
 
The exhibition tracks the development of robotics. There is a 15th century Spanish clockwork robotic monk who kisses his rosary and beats his breast in contrition. And a Japanese "childoid" newsreader, created in 2014 with lifelike facial expressions. The exhibit focuses on mankind's obsession with replicating itself.
 
Arnold Schwarzenegger's unstoppable Terminator cyborg is there. So is Robby the Robot, star of the 1956 film "Forbidden Planet." They represent the horror and the fantasy of robots with minds of their own.
 
There are other examples, too. The exhibit shows factory production-line machines blamed for taking people's jobs in recent decades. A "telenoid communications android" is for hugging during long-distance phone calls to ease loneliness. And there is Kaspar, a "minimally expressive social robot" built like a small boy. Kaspar is designed to help ease social interactions for children with autism.
 
"Robots haven't been these terrifying things. They've been magical, fascinating, useful, and they generally tend to do what we want them to do," said Russell. He works at the science museum and was the lead curator of the exhibition.
 
It is human nature to be worried in the face of change, Russell noted. But he said his exhibit should help people "think about what we are as humans." And they should realize that if robots are "going to come along, you've got a stake in how they develop."
 
A total of 100 robots are set in five different historic periods in the show. The exhibit explores how religion, industrialization, pop culture and visions of the future have shaped society.
 
Rich Walker is managing director of Shadow Robot Company in London.  For him, robotics is about what these increasingly sophisticated machines can do for humans to make life easier. This is especially true for the elderly or the impaired.
 
"I'm naturally lazy," he said. He got involved "so that I could get robots to do things for me." His company has developed a robotic hand. It can replicate 24 of the 27 natural movements of the human hand.
 
Humans have a one percent failure rate at repetitive tasks. Only committing errors about once every two hours, the robotic hand could replace humans on production lines, he said.
 
Walker concedes further erosion of certain types of jobs if inventions such as his are successful. He says having repetitive tasks performed by automatons would free up people to adopt value-added roles.
 
"The issue is to rebuild the economy so that it has a holistic approach to employment," he said.
 
This in turn leads to questions. Some were raised at the exhibition. For instance, should owners of robots pay taxes on the value of their output as part of the new industrial revolution?

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
How could robots have been made 500 years ago?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (279)
  • austinb6-har
    2/14/2017 - 01:41 p.m.

    Robots could have been used like wooden robots so really smart scientist to build a robot. Some of the inventors are Leonardo Divinci made the wooden boy. A lot of people have made robots from wooden to fake or metal to plastic. I think robots are awesome and interesting.

    • tavis3-joh
      2/22/2017 - 07:58 p.m.

      Your answer is almost exactly mine! Nice thinking!

      • austinb6-har
        4/17/2017 - 08:02 p.m.

        Thank you

  • rosar-goa
    2/15/2017 - 09:36 a.m.

    Robots have been made 500 years ago by factory production-line machines blamed for taking people's jobs in recent decades. So the recent decades could be 500 years because a decade is 100 years so decades could be 500 years. According to the article "See 500 years of robots",There are other examples, too. The exhibit shows factory production-line machines blamed for taking people's jobs in recent decades. A "telenoid communications android" is for hugging during long-distance phone calls to ease loneliness. And there is Kaspar, a "minimally expressive social robot" built like a small boy. Kaspar is designed to help ease social interactions for children with autism. That is how I answer the question.

  • diannaf-goa
    2/15/2017 - 09:41 a.m.

    Robots have been made 500 years ago because "they have been with us for centuries".says Russel."Robots",His exhibit at London's Science Museum shows how.According to the article 'See 500 years of robots' it says the exhibit tracks the development of robotics.

  • jorgeg-goa
    2/15/2017 - 09:43 a.m.

    Robots have been made 500 years ago by movie stars and producers because people didn't want to take the parts. In the article " See 500 years of robots " it said the exhibit shows factory production-line machines blamed for taking people's jobs in recent decades. That is how there were robots about 500 years ago.

  • alexish-goa
    2/15/2017 - 10:14 a.m.

    robots have been made 500 years ago was that people wanted a robotic android.According to the article "Russel hopes it will force people to think about how androids and other robotic form can enhance their life.Also a total of 100 robots are set in five different historic periods in the show.

  • evanl3-hei
    2/15/2017 - 10:38 a.m.

    Exhibition charts 500 years of robot evolution Ben Russell set about charting the evolution of automatons for an exhibition he hopes will force people to Robots says Russell have been with us for centuries — as Robots his exhibit opening Selections were made via travelers reviews

    In just 20 years, the Internet is everywhere. ... Maybe in the future we will have robots to take care of the things.

    • karymer1-hei
      2/15/2017 - 12:06 p.m.

      Great job on putting detail to it!

  • juliad-ech
    2/15/2017 - 10:47 a.m.

    How could robots have been made 500 years ago? They could have made robots back than because they had already discovered how to make robots.Other thing is that they have different historic periods.

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