The life of robots: design, learn and discover!

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If you could design a robot, what would you make yours do?

Read the following article and watch the video above in class before you start the class activity


The life of robots – will they take over the world?

Robots have already made quite an impact on life today! They travel into dangerous areas, build products on the factory floor, help in hospital surgeries and even compete in their own sports events! (Have you heard of the term, Artificial Intelligence – A.I? This refers to any type of intelligent machine.)

As humans make smarter and smarter robots, some people are concerned that one day we will lose control over the technology we invent. There are many science fiction stories about this happening, most famously Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot short story series.

These stories were written in the 1950s, long before digital devices were made. irobot

Isaac Asimov included three rules for creating Artificial Intelligence. These rules are used by scientists and inventors today:

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 Laws

But what happens if we create a robot so smart and so powerful that it breaks these laws?

Famous inventor Elon Musk (founder of SpaceX, PayPal and Tesla Motors) is trying to help. He is investing $US11 million into projects designed to protect us from the downsides of advanced artificial intelligence (AI).

Bill Gates and Stephen Hawking are among the high-profile voices who raised concerns over the potentially disastrous consequences of out-of-control AI. They inspired the development of the multimillion-dollar Open Philanthropy program, organised through the Future of Life Institute. This program is dedicated to “keeping AI robust and beneficial”.


Inquiry – Digging Deeper

Class discussion

Consider the role of robots in the future and their impact on the way we live our lives.

Do you think the use of robots in the future will:

  1. Make life for people easier and better?
  2. Take away people’s jobs and cause further problems?
  3. Create some positive changes and some negative change?

Extra bits!

Watch this video to explore more about the history of robots.



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