Last week we were able to interview Martin King, co-founder of InspireNShare – helping us run various workshops in Lab Central which can be seen in our previous blog post. This week we had the chance to see what inspires those wonderful workshops.
What got you started with robotics?
My post graduate computing project way back in 1981 was in robotics – I worked with an engineer to create a chess playing robot arm called “Big Ears”. I created and wrote the high level control and speech recognition software while the engineer built the robot and the low level control functions – back then we had to design and build everything ourselves. My dissertation was on the past, present and future of robots and since then I have always kept a keen interest in robotics.
What interests you in robotics?
My main interest in robots and technology is cultural; how technology affects us and what it can reveal about us created in our own image and acting like a mirror. It’s always fascinating to watch robots; it’s so easy to anthropomorphize them and also revealing when you look under the “bonnet” and see electronics and mechanics.
Even though I had created the high level control software for “Big Ears”, I used to marvel at how I could speak to it and how it would move and pick things up. When we used to pop the top of the cover of Big Ears control centre and reveal the circuit boards the spell and mystery was broken and the core was revealed, composed of programs and circuits – it made me think about ourselves … is this all we are?
Do you have any TV/movie influences?
When I think of robots Robbie the Robot from always comes to mind – this was the robot in the 1960s TV series Lost in Space which, like Star Trek, I can remember seeing during the evenings as a kid. Robbie the Robot was powerful, knowledgeable and helpful – since this time there have been so many robots in movies covering every aspect – sad, silly, playful, stupid, intelligent, good, bad, evil and terrifying.
Can you see these movies and their robotic concepts becoming real in the foreseeable future?
Yes and this is happening faster than we realise – exponential developments in technology have created the conditions for exponential development in robotics – they are becoming cheaper, more functional and more pervasive – the cultural aspects of robotics are crucial. What do robots reveal about ourselves, how do we live with them, what affects will they have on our life and work, should there be any limits on the use of robots – there are so many questions – there is so much uncertainty. I imagine that all aspects of movie robots will be expressed we need to develop ourselves as human beings to determine the best outcomes.
Want to find out how you can get involved in the upcoming robotics sessions that we have at Redbridge Central Library, visit our website.
If you have any questions on technology and robotics, or robotics sessions don’t hesitate to comment to this post with them! We will be posting another Q+A blog soon, so ask away!