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Robots and AI
by Matt, former Athena Student Intern

If you had a robot that could do anything for you, what would it do? Would it serve you ice cold lemonade in the summer and mow your lawn? Would it do your homework or taxes for you? Maybe you are too tired from work, so you need someone to walk the dog for you. The idea of robots is a fascinating thought. If it weren’t, why would we have The Terminator or C3-PO? How would the Robinson family have survived being Lost in Space if it was not for the friendship of a boy and his robot science project?

Movies are an influential part of our life. They keep us focused on the joys and sorrows of on-screen characters for a couple of hours and have us talking about the experience for hours more. And starring in many Hollywood blockbusters are the robots of the future, our ideas and imaginations at work. The following is a list of some of the movies we know that have starred robots:

Metropolis (1927)

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

Forbidden Planet (1956)

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Silent Running (1972)

Sleeper (1973)

Westworld (1973)
Futureworld (1976)

Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)
Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983)
Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999)
Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002)

Blade Runner (1982)

The Terminator (1984)
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)

Short Circuit (1986)
Short Circuit 2 (1988)

RoboCop (1987)

Lost In Space (1998)

Bicentennial Man (1999)

The Iron Giant (1999)

The Matrix (1999)
The Matrix Reloaded (2003)
The Matrix Revolutions (2003)

A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)

I, Robot (2004)

Unfortunately for us, that’s all those robots are. Our imagination. But what if they could really exist?

Look around you. A robot is defined as any device that can move on its own. Did you ever play with Hot Wheels or maybe even a remote controlled plane? Robots are already all around us, some of them more complex than others are. None of them, however, are anywhere remotely close to the creations we see trying to harvest humanity for energy in The Matrix. This is because of A.I. Artificial intelligence.

Here’s a little history lesson for you:

Robot was coined by Czech playwright Karl Capek in his play R.U.R (Rossum's Universal Robots), which opened in Prague in 1921. Robota is the Czech word for forced labor.

The term robotics was introduced by writer Isaac Asimov. In his science fiction book I, Robot, published in 1950, he presented three laws of robotics:

1. A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

John McCarthy first coined the term A.I. at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1956. Today MIT continues to be one of the world leaders in A.I. research.

Scientists all over the world are working on developing A.I. There are already computers out there that can beat even the best person at a game of chess. I have a hard enough time beating my friends, let alone a fast-thinking computer!

Someday robots could sweep your kitchen or take out the trash, but robots today are too clumsy to perform our everyday household chores. So instead, they are used in factories and in highly dangerous situations where humans could get hurt, like cleaning up toxic wastes. That doesn’t mean we can’t still imagine all the possibilities robots could have in the future. So buy yourself a ticket, grab a tub of popcorn and a soda, and start imagining.

If you are interested in learning more about robots and A.I., you can check out the following websites for more information:

MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab

American Association for Artificial Intelligence (AAAI)

San Francisco Robotics Society of America (SFRSA) - Robot news and Robotics Info

The Tech Museum: Robotics: Sensing, Thinking, Acting

Works Cited

Webopedia. 10 Feb. 2004. Jupitermedia Corporation. 5 Aug. 2004

Webopedia. 10 Feb. 2000. Jupitermedia Corporation. 5 Aug. 2004
<>. 5 Aug. 2004 <>.


FirstGov NASA
Curator: Drew Price
NASA Official: Lucien Junkin
Last Updated: April 28, 2020
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