Why Technical English

ROBOTS – Discussion | December 12, 2008

Dear friends of Technical English,

Robots are another technical topic very suitable for discussion. For those, who doesn´t remember the origin of the word „robot“, I remind that the word was firstly introduced by the Czech writer Karel Čapek in his play Rossum´s Universal Robots (R.U.R.) in 1921. Now around two million robots “live” in the world and they are used almost in all spheres of human activities (industry, medicine, education etc.) – see the page Statistics on robots at the site. Many ethical problems arose in connection with it. The problems above all else concern relationships between humans and robots, permissible or acceptable robots´ behaviour and many others. I believe people gradually will cope with these issues and reach some kind of agreement.

However, there is one area where robots can be very dangerous. It deals with military robots, war robots (don´t confuse with a war of robots), battlefield robots. They are true robots operating autonomously, on their own. Nowadays such robots are being developed for Pentagon in the US. Scientists working in this area claim that making lethal autonomous robots is inexpensive and proliferating, that coming such robots on the battlefield is only a matter of time. It isn´t science fiction but grim reality they add. Moreover, they affirm “it is time for people to start talking about whether this technology is something they want to embrace”. And they continue “The important thing is not to be blind to it,”

In this case the ethical problems are very serious and urgently should be resolved or at least discussed before these robots will be a component of a regular army.

The capabilities of modern intelligent robots are practically unlimited. In order to have the inkling of modern robots aptitudes read and enjoy my students´ essays narrating stories about such robots.

Military robots of the same level of intelligence equipped with ability of making decision about humans´ life or death are the great threat for mankind. I think the main topic of our discussion might be military robots. The proposed issues for the discussion are as follows:

  • Do people accept the development of lethal autonomous robots?
  • Do people need robots that will be allowed to make decision about their life or death?
  • How to protect mankind from such robots if they appear?

“It is not my belief that an unmanned system will be able to be perfectly ethical in the battlefield” Dr. Arkin, the main author in developing such systems, wrote in his report (PDF) and I share this opinion. Moreover, I am convinced such robots should be banned.

Galina Vitkova


By Hana Absolonova

I would like to describe my beloved kind of robots. They are marked as R2D2. These are robots that serve all over the world in many different roles. We can meet them as waiters and we can also see them helping on farms. But they are mostly used as technicians at spaceships because of their exact way of operating and ability to stay operational in outer space. They are also used as co-pilots in many kinds of air-fighters.

These robots look a bit like a white can with blue dots and stripes. They also have a variety of sensors on them and for movement they use three flexible legs. On top they have an opening artificial arm. See the R2D2 picture on belovedrobot.

They are very useful and very practical, but they have one big disadvantage and that is communication. They are only able to pipe and communicate with other machines. Making them able to communicate with people would be a huge improvement.

Autonomous robots

By Arzumanov Eduard

AIBO (Artificial Intelligence roBOt, homonymous with “pal” in Japanese) was one of several types of robotic pets designed and manufactured by Sony. There have been several different models since their introduction in 1999. Able to walk, “see” its environment with the build-in camera, and recognize spoken commands, AIBOs are considered to be autonomous robots. The robots are able to learn and mature based on external incentive from their owner or environment, or from other AIBOs. The artist Hajime Sorayama created the initial designs for this robot.

AIBO runs on software called AIBOware. The Life AIBOware allows the robot to be raised from a pup to a fully-grown adult while going through various stages of development as its owner interacts with it. The Explorer AIBOware allows the owner to interact with a fully mature robot able to understand (though not necessarily willing to obey) 100 voice commands. Without the AIBOware, the AIBO will run in what is called a “clinic mode” and can only perform basic actions. Many AIBO owners enjoy teaching their pets new behaviours by reprogramming them (in Sony’s special ‘R-CODE’ language).

The AIBO has seen use as an inexpensive platform for artificial intelligence research.The reason is that it integrates a computer, vision system, and articulators in a package vastly cheaper than conventional research robots.

The RoboCup autonomous soccer competition had a “RoboCup Four-Legged Robot Soccer League” in which numerous institutions from around the world would participate. Competitors would program a team of AIBO robots to play games of the autonomous robot soccer against other competing teams.

On January 26, 2006 Sony announced that it would discontinue AIBO and several other products as of March, 2006. AIBO will still be supported until 2013 (ERS7 model), however, and AIBO technology will continue to be developed for use in other consumer products. That is because of the weak consumer’s interest in my opinion.

So, the AIBO robot is certainly a great invention, but I think it is still void of some use, and the consumer’s interest is low. In my opinion, having a real dog is by far interesting and may not be so boring in future because when having a real dog, you’re never sure of what could happen, so it might be more exciting.



  1. This kind of dangerous robots is natural development of human kind. We need to go through this age and only the future will show us what happen. It seems (at least for me) similar to the atomic bomb invention. It is very dangerous, but people found out a way to use this atomic power by atomic power stations. It did not solve the danger problem, but it was contribution to the human race.

    Comment by Jan Herych — December 13, 2008 @ 2:45 pm

  2. I think AIBO was a great step in devlopment of newaged technologies. It contributed a lot also in studying the behavior of real people and animals and trying to imitate this. It was a very long step providing the possibiliyties for future progress in this field – in robotic technologies. But it will never replace the real dogs in this case, in spite of the facts, that they do not need any food, they can play football and so on. Because a real dog has a soul and heart, dogs love their owners, they reactions and attitude will never be represented in the mechanical form.

    Comment by Robert Arzumanov — December 25, 2008 @ 8:55 am

  3. I like this essay.))
    To make a robot-dog is undoubtely a good idea, but it hasn’t found its way to people yet (in my opinion), nowadays it is a toy for scientists so far.

    Comment by Eduard Arzumanov — December 25, 2008 @ 9:34 am

  4. In my opinion AIBO is an interesting invention, but I don’t see use of this robot. I wouldn’ buy AIBO instead of a dog, because real dog’s behaviour will never be imitated by AIBO.

    Comment by Ota Chasák — January 3, 2009 @ 9:06 pm

  5. My opinion on military robots is, that they will be part of army if we want or not. I don´t see what is the ethical problem there. When a war starts it wouldn´t matter then if will be between humans or robots. It is the same as using cars, tanks or guns in war. And if they could be programmed to kill a human being ? Well in war one side will reprogramm theirs robots to be able to kill anyways, so only solution is not to start a war.

    Comment by Vít Smetana — January 5, 2009 @ 11:07 am

  6. Few days back I have read about us and robot. If the robots would get to the same or better intelectual level as we, than that could be very big problem. The robot would not feel any feeling so they would think racionaly. That would mean that they would try to do the best option from them in the matter that “IT IS GOOD!” So they actually wouldnt have a feeling desizion. And that would be dangerous not only for human. But basiclly all depends on were he will be used and by what purpose. So if he will be used like a stoplight….We dont have to worry about anythink:-) Or should we?????

    Comment by Tomáš Hřebíček — January 5, 2009 @ 1:09 pm

  7. Few days ago I have read a article about some japanese guy, who made by himself a robotic woman.There was a video about that so I took a look on it and it was quite funny. His robo-woman is able to speak in english and japan, count basic math and do easy jobs…..well that´s all really great, but like old scholl fan(carburettor forever) IMHO I just don´t see the real usage of this kind of robots in these days….maybe in 20-30 years it will change, all old scholl fans will be old and new generation will love it, but I think that I can make a cup of tea by myself.

    there are links with article and homepage of the project….enjoy:-)



    Comment by Jiri Filandr — January 5, 2009 @ 10:05 pm

  8. I have heard about this robots but I think that nowadays they are bought only by Japanese people. And I have never heard that someone would buy this robot dog beside these Japanese

    Comment by Jan Janíček — January 6, 2009 @ 10:54 am

  9. I think it’s great contribute to evolution of science that Japanese people are so freaky about robots.

    Comment by Jiří Brabec — January 7, 2009 @ 11:57 am

  10. I doubt that robots could take over some day. I think there should be couple of acquisition which would prevent situations like robot would harm a human, fights between robots and stuff like that. I am sure that robots will strike in our lifes and I hope that robots could benefit us in many ways!

    Comment by Martin Fritzl — January 13, 2009 @ 11:46 am

  11. […] ROBOTS – Discussion […]

    Pingback by Changing the theme of this blog « Why Technical English — August 26, 2010 @ 9:28 am

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