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VWN Product Reviews: Flesh and Machines: How Robots Will Change Us

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Site Shop > Flesh and Machines: How Robots Will Change Us




An informative and easily approachable book on the near and long term potential future of robotics from MIT roboticist Rodney Brooks. In his professional life he is slightly obsessed with robot insects. However, in this tome all manner of robots are professionally discussed, with informed sources and a unique writing style.

He lays out his version of the past, present, and future relationship of humans and their technology throughout this well paced, never hurrying, never dawdling book. Written in 2003 its not quite at the cutting edge, but its not that far behind either. The intervening years serve as a yardstick against which to measure its predictions, and it stands up quite well, so far.

At the time of writing he suspected that within five years ? 2008 - the boundary between what was then fantasy and fact will be breached, and intelligent machines would come into their own. That has happened in several areas, and although not fully emerged in 2009, the signs are all around us. He argues that with these machines have come a host of ethical problems, as we wrestle with the implications of Asimov's laws of robotics and with the very real possibility that we have created a new kind of slave. There's no way of getting around this future, it would seem, and, adds Brooks, our species will change in the bargain: "With all these trends we will become a merger between flesh and machines."

Brooks points the way toward a future where humans work in tandem with and even begin to resemble a host of his fast, cheap creations not a science fiction utopia, but a future where people have a lot more and better tools to work with.

 

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