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The Robot and Automation Almanac - 2018: The Futurist Institute Kindle Edition
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I like this collection of essays and ideas, but I also think it’s missing a lot of really important perspectives and focuses. I couldn’t decide if it felt more like a synopsis or an assortment of opinions. A lot of it felt very repetitive and clique. I think that could have been resolved with good editing or a more collaborative effort.
I personally prefer a most robust book, such as “Probabilistic Robotics”, but this collection allows you to have something unique in the various perspectives. Just don’t look for depth of topic.
While the topic of this book may be challenging to the lay reader, Jason shares its purpose in a well written Introduction: ‘The history of robots is being written now. In this book. When people look back a decade from now, they will want to know how robots and automation evolved. They will want to understand how robots emerged from the factories. They will wish they had known more when it was happening. But rather than wait for a historian to document the future, The Robot and Automation Almanac captures perspectives on imminent pivotal changes now, in the tectonic transition from the information age to the automation age. We are standing on the edge of the age of automation. What’s next for robots and automation in the year ahead? This is the question that almost two dozen contributors have answered in this book. Robots and automation received a lot of media attention in 2017. But this visibility and emergence in the technological Zeitgeist was a shadow of what is likely to happen in 2018. Our authors have presented a view of a world in which robots and automation will make more rapidly accelerating progress. It may not be the year in which robots are a raging river of technological disruption in our daily lives, but 2018 is certain to be a year in which what had been a trickle will be emerging as a babbling brook. Where there was a little activity before, there will be much more in the year ahead. In the essays in this book, you will see a common thread among the different authors: 2018 is a year of ramping up activity. While it may not be the year of full escape velocity, it is going to be a big year. We will likely look back at 2018 as a critical year of transition, of momentum, of activity, of investment, and of technological potential.’
What follows is a series of essays that address both robots we see and robots we don’t see. Putting it mildly, this book is illuminating – information we once was the purview of science fiction animated movies is ‘walking among us’ right now. The views stated in this informative book are both startling and reassuring – that robots and automation just may promise a more secure future. Red it slowly, absorb the learned thoughts and then walk to the window or door or elevator in a skyscraper and shake your head and think ‘Aha!’ – they were right. A taste of tomorrow. Grady Harp, March 18
The advantage this book has is that it has a collection of experts discussing their areas of expertise, resulting in a slightly wider spread than occurred when we had just one author discussing his area of expertise, occasionally making a stab outside of such, and leaving some issues unaddressed and/or tackled from a single somewhat blinkered perspective.
That said, I was expecting to see a little more variety here than was presented. On the one hand, this bodes well insofar as the authors are singing from the same songsheet, and so we can take the information presented as probably very accurate. On the other hand, there are only so many times that we need to read the same ideas.
It’s also worth noting in advance that while this book is largely divided into “Robots that you see” and “Robots that you don’t see”, the latter category is still perfectly visible robots, just operating behind closed doors in Amazon warehouses and similar—it’s not talking about the purely (or mostly) digital kind. It’s not focussed on Alexa and Siri, or for that matter the army of bots we see hijacking social media commentaries on matters of political importance.
All-in-all, well worth reading if one has an interest in robots and automation (I’ll presume you do if you’re reading reviews for such a book), though of course it has its limitations.
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