Quiz Of The Week: Drones And Droids

Friendly robot toys © charles taylorShutterstock

Robots are here, and so is our quiz!

When Amazon promised to deliver packages by drone, it was an obvious publicity stunt, but it raised once more the question of how far we trust drones and robots – mechanical devices that act for themselves.

This week’s quiz looks at the companies trying to sell the idea of robots today, along with the history of our efforts to build autonomous devices, and the ways in which fiction has portrayed our hopes and fears. In a nutshell, we want robots, but we fear that they will kill us  – and that fear is not entirely unfounded. Drones are already being used to kill, by the US military, whatever Isaac Asimov might have had to say about it.

Drone copter delivery robot © Robert Mandel shutterstock

Welcome, robotic overlords?

People have attempted to create automata – both in fiction and with their hands – since civilisation began, and the  science fiction of the 20th century developed those ideas to the full, while actual robotic creatures emerged gradually from the laboratories of the world.

Along the way, robot enthusiasts predicted a life of ease thanks to robot servants. Norbert Wiener, inventor of cybernetics, pointed out that robot work was essentially identical to slave labour, however, and the very first work of fiction to use the word “robot” predicted an ultimate rebellion.

Today’s most significant developments include nano-tech robots which do work too small for humans, and could potentially build anything, and the autonomous drones which Amazon likes so well.  And then there are self-driving cars, which are starting to be tested on our roads.

Have we got your interest? Remember not all robots are trying to kill you. Whenever you think of  The Terminator, just think of C-3PO. That’s better.

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