September 1, 2000
Around the world, scientists and engineers are participating in a high-stakes race to build the first intelligent robot. Many robots already exist – automobile factories are full of them. But the new generation of robots will be something else: smart machines that act ever more like living creatures.
What will happen then? With our prosthetic limbs, titanium hips, and artificial eyes, we are already beginning to resemble our machines. And when we implant chips in our bodies to connect ourselves directly to computers, the likeness will become only more pronounced. Science fiction will have become science fact.
Meanwhile – and equally important – our machines are beginning to resemble us. Robotic spiders, crabs, geckos, and dogs are already spilling from the laboratories. The next steps are to re-create Homo sapiens itself and then go beyond. Robots can already walk, talk, and dance; they can react to human facial expressions and obey verbal commands. When scientists go on to create fully autonomous robots with greater intelligence than human beings, will they be our partners or our rivals? Will it be simply a robotic revolution or a true extension of evolution? Could machines and humankind meld into a single species – Robo sapiens?
In Robo sapiens, award-winning journalists Peter Mansell and Faith D’Aluisio present the next generation of intelligent robots and their makers. Accompanying brilliant photographs of more than a hundred robots are extensive interviews with robotics pioneers, anecdotal field notes with behind-the-scenes information, and easy-to-understand technical data about the machines. Robo sapiens is a field guide to our mechanical future.
Peter Menzel is a photographer known for his coverage of international feature stories on science and the environment. His award-winning photographs have been published in Life, National Geographic, Smithsonian, the New York Times Magazine, Time, Stern, GEO, and Le Figaro.
Faith D’Aluisio is a former television news producer. Her documentary and news series pieces have won regional and national awards from the Headlines Foundation, United Press International, Associated Press, and the Radio-Television News Directors Association.
Peter Menzel and Faith D’Auisio are the co-creators of the books Material World: A Global Family Portrait and Women in the Material World. They are also the co-authors of Man Eating Bugs: The Art and Science of Eating Insects.
They are the parents of Josh, Jack, Adam, and Evan.