are five years into the 21st century. When do the robots arrive? In
the midpoint of the last century, scientists, futurists, writers, artists,
cartoonists, and philosophers began predicting that as early as the
21st century, human sized robots will eventually arrive to "do
the dirty work of humanity", to "serve man" by performing
arduous, dangerous, unclean, and repetitive tasks, freeing humankind
to pursue a life of fulfillment, enlightenment, and leisure. Our robots
would be slaves, workmates, and soulmates. They would be programmed
with false emotions and look just like us. They would serve as sex slaves
and surrogate selves. When we look around, we do see "machines"
called 'robots' which assemble automobiles. There is a company called
U.S. Robotics, but their "products"
page merely lists computer modems and routers. There is a scientific
field called "robotics". The dictionary definition of "robotics",
however, doesn't mention human sized servants. "ro·bot·ics
[ ro bóttiks ] noun : design and use of robots: the science and
technology relating to computer-controlled mechanical devices, for example,
the automated tools commonly found on automobile assembly lines. When
most people hear the word "robot" or "robotic" they
immediately think of the "Three Laws of Robotics" written
by science fiction writer Issac
Asimov in 1940 in his very first book of short stories, "I,
Robot". But Asimov didn't first come up with the idea of the
"robot". In fact, as with most of human thought, the origins
can be traced back to early history.
Egyptian and Sumerian
cultures 5000 years ago told legends where gods would "breathe
life" into inanimate statues.
"Golem", a clay figure brought to life by Kabbalistic
means, is a Hebrew myth that is mentioned in the Talmud. Homer's epic
poem, "The Iliad" mentions "mechanical servants".
The idea of a "mechanical servant" is ancient. In the 13th
century, the advancement of clockwork gave birth to "automata",
sometimes very intricately designed mechanical artworks which sometimes
incorporated the human form. The automata were not true "robots",
and the term had yet to be imagined. The word "robot" can
be traced to it's first usage by the Czech playwright Karel Çapek
in 1918 in a short story and again in his 1921 play R. U. R., which
stood for Rossum's Universal Robots. In the first of many stories revolving
around the theme of mechanical rebellion, in the play R.U.R., Rossum
creates a race of mechanical servants who rebel, dominate mankind, and
eventually wipe out the human race.
the 20s and 30s, the concept of the robot on a rampage permeated fiction,
both in literature, and in the burgeoning new film industry. From
the low budget Flash Gordon serials
to mainstream movies, the robot began to get popular. Issac Asimov wrote
"The Rules of Robotics" in 1940 partly to levy a set of "rules"
that would change the standard rampaging robot story, by injecting some
philosophical thought into the concept. "I, Robot" tells the
story of Dr. Susan Calvin, who reminisces about the history of the robotic
race she developed for her company, which manufactures them.
"rules" set the stage for a period of docile and helpful robots,
including misunderstood robots. Robots wanted to be human, and they
missed their nonexistent emotions. Asimov had coined the term "robopsycology."
Soon the robots were pretending, just like Pinnochio, that they were
real beings, and not just walking toasters.
the dawn of the 50s is when robots really ruled. The actual science
of robotics really gained force with the creation of better computers
during the decade, and great strides were taken, not only in the real
world, but in the robot literature and movies of the time. The big news
for "real robots" was computers. As processing power shrunk,
so did the size and the unweildyness of programmable robotic arms.
experimented with real robots. The "real thing" looked like
a vacuum cleaner or had wheels, like Shakey. In the 60s, "Shakey",
used memory and logical reasoning to solve problems and navigate in
its environment. It was developed by the Stanford Research Institute
(SRI) in Palo Alto, California.
The real robots
resembled peaceful battlebots, and yet more troubled, and troubling
robots were receiving artificial life in the movies and in literature.
In 1951, Robery Wise's "The Day the Earth Stood Still" was
a cautionary tale about the atomc age. It concerned a man from outer
space whose robot Gort figured prominently in the plot. The most famous
movie robot of the fifties, however, is Robby the Robot from the movies
"Forbidden Planet" (1956) and "The
Invisible Boy".(1957) The familiar sound of Robby's inner "brain"
working, as antennas twirled and switches clicked, was a familiar staple
in science fiction throughout the 50s and 60s.
As movie robots
came closer to looking like human beings after a while, the real robots
seemed to be stalled as long as it took so much space to run computer
This website, created
not by a robot but by Michael F. Nyiri, for the most part over one weekend
on February 12th and 13th, 2005, is divided into six sections.
The first section,
"Robots in the Real World" details
the history of robotics, and shows that those friendly but dissatisfied
humanoid denizens of the future are really hydraulic multi jointed arms
and small R2D2 like wheeled boxes and cannisters that look nothing like
a human being.
The second section,
"Robots On Parade in Pop Culture",
which is still under construction, will show the many robots with which
we are familiar through exposure on television and in the movies.
The third section,
"Robots in Literature" lists the
many instances in whichrobots show up in poems, plays, novels and short
stories throughout history.
The fourth section
tells the story of "The Honda "Asimo"
robot, who is the inspiration for this website. In 1986, technicians
at Honda began to engineer a way in which "two legged locomotion"
could be accomplished. In December 2004, with the introduction of the
eleventh generation of the Honda robot, the Asimo proves that it can
run circles around the competiton.
Section Five is
the showcase for the robotic computer "Composited
Artwork of Michael F. Nyiri", the webmaster, who is solely
responsible for the entire AllThingsMike
Universe of websites, and whose computer art composites have graced
his pages since 1999.
Lastly, in another
art tribute in the sixth section, artist Hajime
whose sexy images of very sleek silver female robots as well as more
conventional pinup art. is profiled, and a rather nice sampling of both
his robot and nude female art is presented. This section, although fully
artistic, and not intended for purient or immoral purposes, does contain
images of the nude female form, and if this is considered offensive,
the image thumbnails should not be clicked, or they will open up luscious
visages of the undraped female form on your computer.
This website is
under construction. It is now 7:27 p.m. on the evening of Feb. 13th,
and I am preparing to tidy up what I have already created, post notes
that other pages are in fact not finished, and load the whole thing
online on my server, if time permits, so I can say I've constructed
another website in a weekend. This website would not exist if not for
the many other websites dealing with robotics that provided inspriation
and all the images therein. The individual sections contain links to
these websites. Some of them are The
History of Robots, Roger
Clark's essay on Asimov's Laws of Robotics, Adam
Currie's history of robots, Arrick
Robotics Real Robot Manufacturer,
GoRobotics.net, The Honda
Humanoid Robot Asimo, and the Robotic and
Pinup art of Sorayama. No text or image has been used without an
attempt to credit the original user, writer, or artist. Hopefully all
copyright issues are being adhered to, and if there are any questions
or comments, please contact the