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Our Robots, Ourselves: Robotics and the Myths of Autonomy
November 10, 2015 @ 12:00 am
About the Author — David A. Mindell is Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Dibner Professor of the History of Engineering and Manufacturing at MIT. He has twenty-five years of experience as an engineer in undersea robotic exploration, as a veteran of more than thirty oceanographic expeditions, and as a pilot and engineer of autonomous aircraft. He is the award-winning author of Iron Coffin: War Technology and Experience Aboard the USS Monitor and Digital Apollo: Human and Machine in Spaceflight. He founded Humatics Corporation, which creates technologies to render autonomy transparent, safe, and trustworthy by transforming how robots and autonomous systems work in human environments.
About the Book — In Our Robots, Ourselves, David Mindell offers a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the cutting edge of robotics today, debunking commonly held myths and exploring the rapidly changing relationships between humans and machines.
Drawing on firsthand experience, extensive interviews, and the latest research from MIT and elsewhere, Mindell takes us to extreme environments—high atmosphere, deep ocean, and outer space—to reveal where the most advanced robotics already exist. In these environments, scientists use robots to discover new information about ancient civilizations, to map some of the world’s largest geological features, and even to “commute” to Mars to conduct daily experiments. But these tools of air, sea, and space also forecast the dangers, ethical quandaries, and unintended consequences of a future in which robotics and automation suffuse our everyday lives.
Mindell argues that the stark lines we’ve drawn between human and not human, manual and automated, aren’t helpful for understanding our relationship with robotics. Brilliantly researched and accessibly written, Our Robots, Ourselves clarifies misconceptions about the autonomous robot, offering instead a hopeful message about what he calls “rich human presence” at the center of the technological landscape we are now creating.