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There was much fun to be had: social robotics is a new and thriving field, looking at the integration of robots into society through a cluster of lenses, from the technical through the sociological to the cultural.Papers presented ranged from empirical studies of human-robot interaction to such wonderfully speculative flights as the pressing question of whom (or what) to sue if a sexbot AI steals your partner's affections.There was a lively exhibit of work-in-progress posters, some accompanied by demonstrations of actual robots.

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We all know the story: robots are created to serve humanity, and after some time they rise up and destroy their human masters. I didn't know until I read the play a few weeks ago that it's funny.

If we've read a little more about the play, we know that Čapek's robots aren't mechanical but quasi-organic: what in later SF would be called androids or replicants. And I'd never reflected on the significance of its place and date of publication: Prague, 1920.

When the risen robots issue a manifesto to all the robots of the world, propagated in leaflets by the shipload, the echo of the Russian revolution is loud and clear.

Other aspects of the rebellion evoke a slave - or colonial - uprising.

From their first clunky steps, robots in SF have carried a heavy freight of human anxieties.

A month ago I spent three days in Amsterdam, as a guest of the International Conference on Social Robotics 2011, where I gave the closing keynote.The opening keynote was by a much more consequent speaker: the academic, inventor and entrepreneur Tomotaka Takahashi, who charmed and amazed us all with his cute and accomplished humanoid ROPID and his energetic toy robot Evolta (of Panasonic battery ad fame), and gave us an intriguing rationale for creating small humanoid robots: small for safety, humanoid because we can talk to them without feeling self-conscious, thus making them an ideal interface for all the other gadgets we have around the house.But the best reason, he said, was 'creating new fun', as Steve Jobs did with the i Phone.LINKS Self-promotion Buy my books Buy signed copies! The Human Genre Project The Human Genre Project Comrades and friends Charlie Stross Martin Wisse Making Light Avedon Carol The Pagan Prattle Cheryl's Mewsings Farah Mendlesohn Bridesmaid Svein Olav Nyberg's old blog Svein Olav Nyberg's new blog Alister Black Kevin Williamson Alan Freeman Kathryn Cramer Max Speak Jim Henley John Baker Nicholas Whyte The Sharp Side Barbaric Document The Woolamaloo Gazette Kevin Carson Thomas Knapp Arthur Silber Grand Hotel Abyss Devizes Melting Pot A Finer World Austro-Athenian Empire The Art of the Possible Cupcake Couture Brian Micklethwait Diane Hannover TJ's Place Mat Coward Iain Fraser Grigor Gail Wendorf ubiquitous surveillance Dubious Prospects Ilorien Sharon King Kristine Lowe Rich Puchalsky Lamontations Cory Doctorow Parallel Futures Colleagues Genomics Forum Genotype Forum Tweets the write reality Pippa Goldschmidt My Forum page Sociology, Genomics and SF EUSci The University of Edinburgh Genomics What Is Genomics? Syn Bio Standards Genetic Future Genetic Inference Action Bioscience Cardiff sci SCREEN Genomic Minds The Fourth Domain Edinburgh Guardian Edinburgh blog The Edinburgh Reporter City of Literature Trust Textualities Writers Bloc Word Power Transreal Mc Shandy's Forest Publications The Forest Cafe Avalanche Records Scottish Knife Collection Sea Kist Joyce Paton Chris Koujou Author Portraits Luath Press Tychy Dig-In Bruntsfield Writers Blog SF Writers' blogs Dead by Dawn Forbidden Planet Ian Mc Donald The Mumpsimus Dr Ian Hocking Barbaric Document Mundane SF Justina Robson Neal Asher Michael Rosen Warren Ellis John Scalzi Sean Williams Jack Deighton Rudy Rucker Glenda Larke Alan Campbell Gavin Inglis Hannu Rajaniemi Lou Anders Nick Harkaway Paul Mc Auley Lois Mc Master Bujold Lab Lit M. Sawyer Will Shetterly Stefan Pearson aiko writes: poems The Lost Book The Trease Project Peter Watts Karla Schmidt Deborah J Miller Juliet E Mc Kenna Mike Cobley Philip Palmer Nick Wood Catherynne M.Valente Gail Carriger Liz Williams Morag Edward Adam Roberts Jo Walton Nicola Griffith Alastair Reynolds Kari Sperring Alan Bissett My Writing Life Helen Jackson Caroline von Schmalensee N. Jemisin Cici James Joan Slonczewski Gwyneth Jones Michael Rosen Ryan Van Winkle C. Cherryh Russell Jones Georgina Bruce Katrina Leno Claire Askew Steven Brust Mary Robinette Kowal Regi Claire Ron Butlin Ruth Sabath Rosenthal Jaine Fenn Nnedi Okorafor Editor Blogs John Jarrold Publisher Blogs Tim Holman Brother Blogs Mac Leod Cartoons Skiffy Ansible Redstone SF Futurismic Sci Fi Dimensions io9 Pyr Orbit PS Publishing Feminist SF World SF News Biology in SF Raritania Steampunk Fashion Torque Control Post-Weird Thoughts Ivor W.Hartmann Star Ship Sofa Star Wars Modern The Outer Alliance Eve's Alexandria Beyond Victoriana Strange Horizons Salon Futura Afrocyberpunk pornokitsch Sci Fi Ideas Three, If By Robots Brits Blog The Sharpener The Register Velvet Glove, Iron Fist Blood and Treasure The Gaping Silence The Yorkshire Ranter Excuse Me Whilst I Step Outside ' ...

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