Ours is the age of robots. They come in many guises, are used in various industries, and is a subject of increasing discussions. While eager scientists rejoice in the appearance of more sophisticated devices almost every day, not all people share the same enthusiasm.
There is a real caution that even the most advanced artificial intelligence robot may go out of control and ultimately conquer the world subjugating humankind and reducing it to servitude. Yet while those dystopian apprehensions seem largely ridiculous and far-fetched, people and robots walk hand in hand making the world a more comfortable place to live in.
What is a Robot?
When we hear the word “robot”, most of us picture Hollywood-entrenched images like the comic relief C-3PO from Star Wars or the now fearsome, now protective Terminator. But in fact, most existing robots don’t resemble humans like in the movies.
Moreover, roboticists themselves often disagree on what we should call “a robot”. Typically, a robot is considered to be a physically embodied mechanism that is intelligent enough to perform autonomous tasks manipulating the environment.
Robots are cutting-edge technology, yet the evolution of robots encompasses thousands of years.
The word “robot” dates back to 1921 when the Czech writer Karel Čapek used it in his play to name an artificially created person whose sole purpose was to perform all menial labor. Although the word itself is quite a recent coinage, the robot evolution is millennia-old. One of the earliest inventions which may be related to robotics was the water clock designed in Egypt as far back as 1500 B.C.
It measures time using the force of water running through it and features figurines that strike hour bells. Other robots of ancient times include the mechanical bird invented by Archytas the Greek in 350 B.C. and Leonardo da Vinci’s armored knight which was able to move its head and upper limbs.
The next step in evolution was a humanoid robot. In 1810, Friedrich Kaufmann constructed a soldier that could blow a trumpet using leather bellows for lungs. The XXth century witnessed the appearance of the design by Nikola Tesla remotely controlled electrical boat, the first toy robot introduced in pre-World War II Japan and a whole range of industrial robots. The latter looked like a huge arm used to lift heavy loads, perform monotonous work on assembly lines or accomplish tasks with precision tools.
Modern Era of Robotics
Having undergone such a quick and breath-taking evolution robotics is an integral part of life in the XXIst century. Robots pervaded all spheres – healthcare, agriculture, transport, communication, education, security, etc. The development of robots has immensely accelerated space explorations. Interplanetary spaceships delivered robots to the Moon, Mars, Venus and are helping astronauts in their daring accomplishments on the frontier of humankind.
Modern trends in the field make it clear that the future of robotics and artificial intelligence are bound closely together. An artificial intelligent robot is no longer a creature from a science fiction movie or a book. Sometimes they take the guise of intelligent systems used in aviation and smart cities, other times they are physically tangible individuals like Sophia which (who?) was even granted Saudi Arabia citizenship.
Either way, machines are getting smarter and more powerful becoming as human-like as they might be.
Today robots are increasingly used to tirelessly accomplish a plethora of routine or elaborate tasks that may appear too dangerous for humans. Continuing to evolve robots have become intelligent enough to substitute people in many spheres and provide such a level of proficiency which in the long run will significantly improve the quality of our life.