Will robots take over the world?

4 March 2011

Dr Kathleen Richardson , UCL Anthropology

2011 is the 90th anniversary of the robot, first imagined as a character in a play, performed in Prague in 1921. It is also the 50th anniversary of the first use of robots in industry with the robot ‘Unimate’ for General Motors in 1961.

Since the origin of robots they have undergone a number of transitions from the popular idea of the robot as a domestic, a vision popular from fiction such as the 1970's cartoon ‘The Jetsons’, to the last fifteen years imagining robots, not just for work, but to act as companions, exercise coaches for the elderly or stroke patients, and assistants for children with autism spectrum conditions.

This lecture will explore the history of the robot, and how it has changed and been re-imagined in fiction and labs over the last 90s years. 

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