Robotics Essay, Research Paper
Robots, the definition from Webster s Dictionary, is an
automatic device that performs functions normally ascribed to
humans or a machine form of a human. Robots and robotics are
growing fields that have progressed since the 1940 s. The first
use of the word ‘robot’ was made by the acclaimed Czech
playwright Karel Capek, from the Czech word for forced labor or
serf. The use of the word Robot was introduced into his play
Rossum’s Universal Robots which opened in January of 1921. In
Rossum’s Universal Robots, Capek poses a paradise where the
machines initially bring so many benefits but in the end bring an
equal amount of blight, in the form of unemployment and social
unrest. The word ‘robotics’ was first used in Runaround, a short
story published in 1942 by Isaac Asimov. One of the first robots
Asimov wrote about was a robotherapist, a modern counterpart to
Asimov’s fictional character is Eliza. Eliza was born in 1966 by a
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor, Joseph
Weizenbaum, who wrote Eliza, a computer program for the study
of natural language communication between man and machine. She
was initially programmed with 240 lines of code to simulate a
psychotherapist by answering questions with questions.
Isaac Asimov had four laws that he thought all robots should go
by: Law Zeroth: A robot may not injure humanity, or, through
inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.
Law One: A robot may not injure a human being, or, through
inaction, allow a human being to come to harm, unless this would
violate a higher order law.
Law Two: A robot must obey orders given it by human beings,
except where such orders would conflict with a higher order law.
Law Three: A robot must protect its own existence as long as
such protection does not conflict with a higher order law.
Some of the first actually Robots date into the 1940 s. This
robot was done by Grey Walter and called Machina Spectulatrix.
People called it the turtlebot for short. His robot was just
recently restored to a working state. The turtlebot s are
three-wheeling, light-seeking creatures. A photoelectric cell was
mounted on the steering column with a front wheel attached. The
turtles were propelled by two small electric motors, to roam in
any direction with sensor contacts to avoid obstacles. The turtles
searched and aimed towards the light, but when the light
intensity became too bright they retreated to their hutches to
recharge. Its a very basic robot but Walter was ahead of his time
doing the Robot.
In 1956, a meeting occurred between George C. Devol and
Joseph F. Engelberger. The two met over cocktails to discuss the
writings of Isaac Asimov. The result of this historic meeting was
that Devol and Engelberger, created a working robot nicknamed
the ‘Unimate’. The first Unimate was installed at a General
Motors plant, where it worked with the heated die-casting
machines. Engelberger started a manufacturing company called
‘Unimation’ which stood for Universal Automation, the first
commercial company to produce robots. Devol wrote the
necessary patents. Unimation is still in production today, with
robots for sale.
All robots that work and do things are run by programs.
Most of the programs being made are trying to emulate programs
that let the robot have AI. AI stands for artificial intelligence.
Back in 1637 a French philosopher-mathematician Rene Descartes
predicted that it would never be impossible to make a thing that
had AI. In 1950 the British mathematician and computer pioneer
Alan Turing declared that one day there would be a machine that
could duplicate the thoughts of a human being. This would be done
by passing a specialized test, this test will be done by a computer
and a human hidden from view would be asked random identical
questions. If the computer were successful, the questioner would
be unable to distinguish the machine from the person by the
Inspired by Turing s Theory, the first conference on AI
convened at Dartmouth College in N.H. in 1956. Soon afterwards,
an AI laboratory was started at Massachusetts Institute of
Technology by John McCarthy and Marvin Minsky, two of the
nation s leading AI researchers. McCarthy also invented the AI
computer Language, Lisp; but by the early 1990 s AI itself had
not been achieved. However, logic programs called expert
systems allow computers to make decisions by interpreting data
and selecting from among alternatives. Technicians can run
programs used in complex medical diagnostics, language
translation, mineral exploration and even computer design.
Machinery can outperform humans physically, as well as
mentally. The fastest computer is able to calculate roughly 10
billion calculations per second. In order to achieve the same track
as the mind, computers have been made with several processors
to follow calculations at the same time.
Critics say that this does not involve understanding,
something that a human would have. This would be theoretically
impossible and involve learning the material. Some experts have
suggested that computers should be modeled after the human
brain, which essentially consists of a network of nerve cells.
The research of AI has progressed so much that some
computers can preform complicated- though extremely
specialized- tasks. For example, artificial intelligence systems
have been produced that can diagnose diseases and locate
minerals in the Earth. Such systems are often called Expert
systems. They require vasts amount of knowlegde or information
in the computer to provide for the basis of the computers
thinking ability. To diagnose a disease a computer needs to be
programed with knowledge of thousands symptoms and how these
symtoms relate to hundreds of diseases.
Programs have also been developed that enable computers
to comprehend commands in a natural language–e.g., ordinary
English. The software systems of this type that have been
produced so far are limited in their vocabulary and knowledge to
specific, narrowly defined subject areas. They contain large
amounts of information about the meaning of words pertaining to
that subject, as well as information about grammatical rules and
common violations of those rules.
Major and continuing advances in computer processing
speeds and memory sizes have facilitated the development of AI
programs. Although most AI programs attempting to simulate
higher mental functions incorporate the bottleneck of limited
short-term memory, which restricts humans to carrying out one
or a few mental tasks at a time, many investigators have begun to
explore how the intelligence of computer programs can be
enhanced by incorporating parallel processing–e.x., the
simultaneous execution of several separate operations by means
of computer memories that allow many processes to be carried
out at once. The question of which portions of the human brain
operate serially and which operate in parallel has been a topic of
intense debate by researchers in both the cognitive sciences and
AI, but no clear verdict had been reached by the mid-1990s.
The largest computer memories now contain elementary
circuits that are comparable in number to the synaptic
connections (about 10 trillion) in the human brain, and they
operate at speeds (billions of operations per second) that are far
faster than elementary neural speeds.The challenge driving AI
research is to understand how computers’ capabilities must be
organized in order to reproduce the many kinds of mental activity
that are comprised by the term “thinking.” AI research has thus
focused on understanding the mechanisms involved in human
mental tasks and on designing software that performs similarly,
starting with relatively simple ones and continually progressing to
levels of greater complexity.
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