The Robot: The Life Story of a Technology

4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0801890710
ISBN-10: 0801890713
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Concise and direct to the point, Nocks' technography on the robot offers a rich overview of the systems we understand as robotic. It summarizes the 30-some-year-long history of a plethora of ideas, experiments, and implementations that have found their places in our everyday lives.

(Choice)

What distinguishes this book from others is its attempt to cover the long history of robots, as well as to take the time to explain how many of the technologies actually work.

(Peter Asaro Isis)

Book Description

Tells the biography of the robot, both as an instrument of technology, and as a feature of our imaginations in popular movies and literature

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press (October 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801890713
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801890710
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,854,243 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Roger D. Launius VINE VOICE on December 29, 2012
Format: Paperback
For those seeking a general overview of the evolution of the robot in human history, "The Robot: The Life Story of a Technology" is a creditable work that serves as useful entrée into a complex subject. Intended as an accessible short overview of the subject which assumes modest prior knowledge, it fully succeeds. It does not invoke theoretical premises or argue historiography.

Instead, it offers a narrative of the subject that is both inviting and sometimes insightful. Of course, it is a breathless survey and it accordingly gives short shrift to many subjects. The brevity of the treatment in certain sections, far from being a negative for the overall work, allows the broad overview intended for the general reader to succeed. As will be immediately obvious, the author sacrificed in depth discussion for broad synthesis. In the process she describes the origins of the concept of a robot and its explosive and exponential growth in the twentieth century.

Without question, modern society is built on the work of robots. It may be interpreted--especially as robots become more capable, sentient, and perhaps a silicon based life-form--an analog to historic slavery over another entity. I don't want to push this point too far, but as the author makes clear robotics has emphasized domestic or industrial work that had once been performed by human substitutes. It arose during a period marked by the widespread use of domestic servants and low-skilled labor and not long after the abolition of slavery.

Robots performed compulsory labor of an often wearisome and dangerous sort. They have not been substitutes for humans acting in their more inventive capacities nor have they been allowed to act as masters or employers of servants.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A. Kapadia on July 9, 2009
Format: Paperback
The book starts off well enough with background, but as soon as the author hits the more modern developments, she focuses on Mobile Robots and Humanoids. She has left out manipulators and redundant robots, as well as the difficulties and challenges ahead with respect to these areas, which tie in strongly with the areas she did focus on.

It is obvious the author decided to talk to only a handful of researchers, leaving out lab and groups whose contributions have been equal, if not more, in the field, such as The Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon (disclosure: I am not affiliated to that program in any way). Had the author prefaced her take on the state-of-the-art accordingly, the reader might get a better sense of the vastness and scope of the field, but to an unsuspecting or lay reader, this book might just end up providing some insight into only a few aspects of robots. In the end, the author leaves enough behind to make this book not quite are worthwhile a read as one would have liked.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Maggie Campagna on June 23, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I liked this book. It was an easy and broad read. I had to do a presentation for a university engineering class and I chose to present robotics. Needless to say, the required 15min presentation turned into over an hour of fun facts, information, and pictures, thanks to this book!
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful By TreadheadA25 on January 31, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is the best all around history of robotics available in a single volume. Nocks clears up many misunderstandings and plain wrong information which is constantly repeated in other sources. Covers the subject from the ancient world until today and tells many fascinating stories...who knew there really were such things as 'steam men' and that the first appeared in New Jersey in the 19th century?
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