Robot Revolution

2009, Technology  -  53 min Leave a Comment
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It's the stuff of science fiction. One day, robots will be seamlessly integrated into society, assisting in the workplace and home, and able to mirror human emotions, motivations and nuance. Given our steady cinematic diet of indestructible terminators and murderous machines from other galaxies, much of the public would be justified in expressing some degree of skepticism over this notion. But many key figures from the fields of scientific innovation recognize the promise of something else entirely: hope and possibility.

Just ask roboticist Rodney Brooks. Having attained a sterling reputation in robotics through his groundbreaking work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, Brooks was recruited by the United States Department of Defense to devise a fully functional, socially interactive robot that can successfully compete against a human opponent on an ancient Chinese game of skill called Go.

Robot Revolution follows Brooks and his team as they struggle to realize this highly ambitious creation. Can they craft a robotic life form that displays a full range of motor skills, decision-making capabilities, social awareness, behavioral observations and appropriate action responses? Most crucially, can they make it affordable for private industry and the general public alike? Should they be successful in their quest, the long-term ramifications of their invention are potentially vast and culturally seismic. Robots might eventually assume essential functions in the workplace, in our homes, in our elder care facilities, and on the battlefield.

Journeying from scientific laboratories and corporate landscapes to domestic environments, Robot Revolution traces the current possibilities that are being explored and realized within this burgeoning industry. The robotic intelligence of today has far surpassed what was possible just a decade ago, yet scientists and technologists insist that its development is still in a stage of infancy. Even when the most pressing technological hurdles of robotic development and manufacturing are conquered, will the human population be accepting enough to embrace it?

There's still much work to be done before the melding of mind and machine can become our everyday reality. With probing curiosity and infectious enthusiasm, Robot Revolution shows us that this reality may reach our horizon sooner than we think.