Sunday, July 3, 2016

Week 2: Robotics + Art

Industrialization has tremendously influenced the human race. The introduction of new technology has facilitated our lives, however, there are also negative effects to the industrialization and development of a more technologically reliant world.

When it comes to technology with respects to art, great minds such as Walter Benjamin claim that this era of mechanical reproduction kills the authenticity and uniqueness of art. Benjamin talks about forms of art such as paintings, are seen as boring and uninteresting by a population that is constantly stimulated by the multidimensionality and rapid image generation present in films. The entertainment factor prevent in films today has desensitized people to the artistic value presented in a painting that cannot be reproduced in the way an image or a movie can. 

One of the most exciting fields in science today is Robotics. People have an unquenchable desire to make machines perform the functions that only humans could do before.

In his TED talk, “Robots will invade our lives,” Rodney Brooks talks about the reality that in a few years, robots will become ubiquitous aspects of our lives. This is terrifying to think about considering that the “Human” aspect will be removed from many tasks and aspects of life. Professor Kusahara explains that “a robot is a machine, so robots are a part of the machine culture that the industry uses to let people work as machines. This underlines the human fear of robots” (Kusahara). The Japanese are attempting to create robots in a way exemplify parts of human nature in an attempt to portray robots as relatable and friendly towards humans and to eliminate the threat and fear that those robots pose on society.

Image: Human Robot Handshake by Willyam Bradberry/Shutterstock

This attempt to make robots more “human” requires a significant amount of artistic background as it is especially difficult to capture the essence of what it means to be human as well as to implement part of this essence into a piece of metal machinery. David Hansen captured this attempt to humanize machinery by developing a robot that detects and reacts to human facial expressions as well as engage in conversations with people. This scientific and artistic breakthrough has positively influenced the medical field as it is aiding in the social development of autistic kids.

Image: Zeno the smiling robot developed by David Hansen engages with children with autism. 

The effects of humanizing robots are easy portrayed as positive and helpful to humans, however after listening to Hod Lipson’s TedTalk where he discussesthe issue that robotics can develop self awareness and independence in their actions without needing to be programmed by humans. This is especially dangerous because we could be creating the ultimate powerhouse that could drive the human race out.

                         Image: Self-Aware Robots - Credit: DNA Films 2015


1. Brooks, Rodney. (2003, February). Robots will invade our lives [Video file]. <>
2. Lipson, Hod. (2007, March). Building “self-aware” robots [Video file]. <>
3. Benjamin, Walter. “The Work Of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” Illuminations. Ed. H. Arendt. New York, Schocken, 1936. Web. 3 July 2016.
4. David Hanson: Robots That "show Emotion" TED. N.p., Oct. 2009. Web. 3 July 2016  <>.
5. Professor Machiko Kusahara on Japanese Robotics. Victoria Vesna. YouTube. N.p., 14 Apr. 2012. Web. 3 July 2016. <>.

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