Exactly 101 years ago people were first shown robots

On January 25, 1921, the world met robots. Not yet in hardware and with a microchip, but in artistic

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On this day, the premiere took place in Praguescience fiction play R. U.R." ("Rossum's Universal Robots") Karel Capek. In it, robots are called artificial humanoid creatures designed to work instead of humans.

In the course of the play, the robots rise up and kill all but one of the people on the planet. And as a kind of happy ending, two robots discover the ability to love.

Scene from the play depicting the rise of the robots

The word "robot" itself comes from the Czech"robota", among the meanings of which there are slave labor and corvee (the duty of a serf to work part of the time on the lord's lands). Almost immediately after the release of the play, the word "robot" became firmly established in English, and then migrated to other languages.

Ameca - robot with human facial expressions (2021)

Same day 58 years later

On January 25, 1979, a robot killed a human for the first time.. The tragedy occurred at the Ford car plantin the United States, where 25-year-old Robert Williams became a victim of the car. He noticed that the robot that fed the parts was running too slowly. Robert went to retrieve the item himself, at which point a mechanical arm hit him on the head and instantly killed the worker. The family of the deceased managed to sue the machine manufacturer Unit Handling Systems for $10 million. The decision was probably not easy - the jurors spent two and a half hours debating.

That incident might have seemed like a normal accident onproduction, but even then people were thinking about how to protect themselves from violence from robots. In 1942, Isaac Asimov formulated the Three Laws of Robotics in one of his stories. In short, they sound like this: a robot cannot harm a person by action or inaction; the robot must follow orders if it does not harm the person; the robot must take care of its safety, if this does not contradict the first two laws.

In fact, the theory of ethics of robots appeared.By the way, they also tried to shift the previously known ethical problems onto it, for example, a series of dilemmas about the trolley: in a hypothetical problem, the trolley rolls on a group of five people, but the performer has a chance to send it to a different path. The problem is that there is also a person on the second path, albeit only one, and the one who moves the arrow will become his killer.

Robotics was also remembered in the context of the appearancecars with autopilots. Manufacturers of smart cars, of course, unanimously talk about the unconditional responsibility of the driver, even if he transferred control to the computer. However, soon electronic pilots will have to solve problems like this: crash into a group of people or send the car into a bump stop and risk the life of its owner. It can be assumed that the developers will choose some basic principle - perhaps not optimal in terms of the number of victims, but as ethically neutral as possible. One can only hope that computer drivers will be smarter than the living and will be able to avoid accidents.

And on January 25th...

In 2004, the long-lived Opportunity probe landed on Mars.. He holds the record for the duration of work on the "red planet".

The probe reached Mars in about six months.The most difficult stage of the mission was, perhaps, landing - the device entered the atmosphere at a speed of almost 20 thousand kilometers per hour, the touch should have occurred at a speed a thousand times less. For this, parachutes and rocket engines had to be used, and the apparatus itself was dressed in a “cocoon” of 24 air cushions.

Opportunity Landing Airbags

On-board computer "Opportunity" runs onprocessor with a frequency of only 20 MHz, has 128 MB of RAM, 3 MB of EEPROM memory and 256 MB of flash. The rover's electronics work properly at temperatures ranging from -40 to +40 degrees Celsius, but since the weather on Mars is not always so "moderate", there is a radioisotope heater and conventional electric thermal elements on board.

Rover Opportunity

In 90 sols (Martian days; sol is approximately equal to24 hours 40 minutes) of the planned work, studies were laid with the main goal of confirming or refuting the presence of liquid water on Mars in the past. Opportunity found several evidence that it landed (or "landed") at the bottom of an ancient sea. He found deposits in the form of balls, voids in the rock, and also identified sulfates and jarosite - compounds that form on Earth in stagnant water. The probe is now in its fifth thousand sols of operation on Mars, and it is still in service (and probably does not understand why it is not taken home), and NASA scientists continue to come up with new and new tasks for it.

As a well-deserved "Martian", the Opportunity probe even received an award: an asteroid 39382 was named in his honor (it was nameless since its discovery in 1960).