Bookshelf: Robotics Reads
By: Sarah Van Horn
We’re back again with some more science and tech inspired recommended reading and this time we’re focusing on robotics. While we’ve covered some of our favorite AI reads in the past, this time we’ll be focusing more strictly on the machines themselves in honor of our brand new programs in mechatronics engineering and mechatronics and robotics engineering technology.
Capitol has supported FIRST robotics and our own robotics team for many years, but we are so excited that we will soon be able to dedicate a whole track of learning to something our students have been passionate about for so long.
Do you love all things robotics too? Check out our recommended reading list:
Unlike many of our recommendations, I, Robot is science fiction, but we just couldn’t make a list on robotics that didn’t begin with Isaac Asimov. A brilliant biochemist and prolific science fiction author, this is the novel in which Asimov coined the 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 orders given to 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.” While you may have seen the major motion picture based on this novel, the book is very different. It is a series of nine short stories following main character Dr. Susan Calvin, the head psychologist of United States Robots, as she solves various puzzling situations afflicting futuristic robots. This book is a quick compelling read guaranteed to get you thinking on a higher level.
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Exactly like it sounds, Robotics: A Very Short Introduction by Alan Winfield is an approachable introduction to robotics for anyone interested in the topic. We would recommend this book to readers with no former robotics knowledge who are seeking a basic but solid education on robotics. This book is meant for adults, but may be appropriate for children as well depending on their reading level. It covers key achievements in the field, exploring robotics history and technology. For anyone who enjoys this book, Oxford University Press has an entire series of very short introduction books that are also worth the read.
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A list on robotics without a hint of artificial intelligence wouldn’t truly be complete. Fortunately, in 2017 MIT professor Max Tegmark brought us Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence. The praise for this novel is off the charts, with people like the late great professor Stephen Hawking weighing in, “All of us—not only scientists, industrialists and generals—should ask ourselves what can we do now to improve the chances of reaping the benefits of future AI and avoiding the risks. This is the most important conversation of our time, and Tegmark’s thought-provoking book will help you join it.” Exploring necessary questions like, will robots replace us? and what happens if our super machines get hacked? This novel will propel you towards the right questions to ask in building a better future.
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“Why a book on robots and war? Because robots are frakin’ cool.” Wired for War by Dr. P.W. Singer is not a fiction novel. Dr. Singer is one of the world’s leading research experts on 21st century warfare and in this scary good read he explores the use of things like AI, unmanned systems, and other emerging robotics technology on the battlefield. Exploring the overall change that we are creating and how the ripples of that change are going to affect us, Singer covers everything from robots for dummies to the potential for a robot revolt. “With AI and Machine Learning rapidly advancing into technologies used for the security of countries - this is extremely well researched and riveting,” said one amazon reviewer. “An opening quote from "The Matrix" entices you to take the red pill and really understand what is evolving around you. That said you won't be disappointed. This is informal and has many perspectives of engineers, strategists, politics and even the geo-political landscape shift that is emerging. The scene is set for you in the first 170 pages with the next 300 pages seriously challenging you and your beliefs. If you are exploring Military History, Military Research and the consequences and benefits of Autonomy - THIS IS A MUST READ. Highly Recommended.”
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Joseph E. Aoun wants college education to be “robot-proof”. What does that mean? Creative thinking, maker culture, and what Aoun describes as teaching “humanics”. His concept of humanics involves teaching, “data literacy, technological literacy, and human literacy.” Aoun writes, “Students will need data literacy to manage the flow of big data, and technological literacy to know how their machines work, but human literacy―the humanities, communication, and design―to function as a human being.” A book after our own hands-on educator hearts, Robot-Proof: Higher Education in the Age of Artificial Intelligence recognizes that the world is changing and schools need to do their part to prep students to think like only people can.
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