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Robot Futures by Illah Reza Nourbakhsh

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Robot Futures (MIT Press)
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With robots, we are inventing a new species that is part material and part digital. The ambition of modern robotics goes beyond copying humans, beyond the effort to make walking, talking androids that are indistinguishable from people. Future robots will have superhuman abilities in both the physical and digital realms. They will be embedded in our physical spaces, with the ability to go where we cannot, and will have minds of their own, thanks to artificial intelligence. In Robot Futures, the roboticist Illah Reza Nourbakhsh considers how we will share our world with these creatures, and how our society could change as it incorporates a race of stronger, smarter beings.

Nourbakhsh imagines a future that includes adbots offering interactive custom messaging; robotic flying toys that operate by means of “gaze tracking”; robot-enabled multimodal, multicontinental telepresence; and even a way that nanorobots could allow us to assume different physical forms. Nourbakhsh examines the underlying technology and the social consequences of each scenario. He also offers a counter-vision: a robotics designed to create civic and community empowerment. His book helps us understand why that is the robot future we should try to bring about.

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