Monday, 16 April 2007

Literature Survey


I found Timothy N. Hornyak’s 2006 “Loving The Machine: The Art and Science of Japanese Robotics” to be an informative introductory read. Hornyak’s book takes the reader from the 18th-century tradition of automated dolls right through to present-day achievements in android science.

Flesh and Machines: How Robots Will Change Us” is a 2002 book by Rodney A. Brooks in which the director of MIT’s AI lab explores the history and future of AI. Of particular interest were his discussions of the possibility of conscious machines and the theories of Strong AI proponents Ray Kurzweil and Hans Moravec.

Both Kurzweil’s 2002 “Are We Spiritual Machines?” and Moravec’s 1988 “Mind Children: The Future of Robot and Human Intelligence” state that by 2045 humans will achieve immortality by downloading into machines and living on in simulated worlds and/or out in space.

It occurred to me that religion plays a role in the theories and practices of scientists in the West, as well as in Japan. This propelled me to read Anne Foerst’s 2004 book “God In The Machine: What Robots Teach Us About Humanity and God,” in which she gives biblical and humane reasons why we should accept robots as equals in society.

Masahiro Mori’s book “The Buddha In The Robot: A Robot Engineer’s Thoughts on Science and Religion,” published in English in 1981, explores how through robotics Mori gained deep appreciation of Buddhist principles.

Robert M. Geraci’s 2006 academic paper “Spiritual Robots: Religion and Our Scientific View of the Natural World” provides ample evidence to prove that both Japanese and Western scientists are swayed by the religious messages of their respective cultures, ultimately leading Japanese scientists to favour the development of humanoid robots while their Western counterparts lean towards visions of apocalyptic wars and/or humans living on as immortal “heavenly bodies.”

There is a growing amount of literature on robot rights and roboethics in the West, but little in Japan. Academic papers I consulted included Naho Kitano’s 2006 “Roboethics - A Comparative Analysis of Social Acceptance of Robots Between the West and Japan and Frank W. Sudia’s 2004 “
A Jurisprudence of Artilects: Blueprint for a Synthetic Citizen.” Kitano clarifies why Japanese do not perceive robots as a problem in society, while Sudia argues that artilects pose various legal questions, but are guaranteed to win legal recognition and rights.