Exemplification Essay

Please write an exemplification essay,double-spaced, 12-point font (easy to read, please)5+ pages in length plus a Works Cited page, following MLA guidelines including at least three or more citations one citation should reference our novel( I, Robot Link: https://www.ttu.ee/public/m/mart-murdvee/Techno-Ps… )one citation should reference class handouts (attached)one or more should come from your own researchthat responds to (explains) one of the following four topics:How robots currently function as human companions OR may function as human companions in the futureHow robots are changing OR may change the definition of what is humanRubric is attached as well as notes for writing an exemplification essay.


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What Is a Robot, Really? – The Atlantic
3/22/16, 7:39 PM
What Is a Robot?
The question is more complicated than it seems.
RYGER / Shutterstock / Zak Bickel / The Atlantic
7:00 AM ET
The year is 2016. Robots have in?ltrated the human world. We built them, one
by one, and now they are all around us. Soon there will be many more of them,
working alone and in swarms. One is no larger than a single grain of rice, while
another is larger than a prairie barn. These machines can be angular, ?at, tubby,
spindly, bulbous, and gangly. Not all of them have faces. Not all of them have
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What Is a Robot, Really? – The Atlantic
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And yet they can do things once thought impossible for machine. They vacuum
carpets, zip up winter coats, paint cars, organize warehouses, mix drinks, play
beer pong, waltz across a school gymnasium, limp like wounded animals, write
and publish stories, replicate abstract expressionist art, clean up nuclear waste,
even dream.
Except, wait. Are these all really robots? What is a robot, anyway?
This has become an increasingly di?cult question to answer. Yet it’s a crucial
one. Ubiquitous computing and automation are occurring in tandem. Selfoperating machines are permeating every dimension of society, so that humans
?nd themselves interacting more frequently with robots than ever before—often
without even realizing it. The human-machine relationship is rapidly evolving as
a result. Humanity, and what it means to be a human, will be de?ned in part by
the machines people design.
“We design these machines, and we have the ability to design them as our
masters, or our partners, or our slaves,” said John Marko?, the author of
Machines of Loving Grace, and a long-time technology reporter for The New York
Times. “As we design these machines, what does it do to the human if we have a
class of slaves which are not human but that we treat as human? We’re creating
this world in which most of our interactions are with anthropomorphized
In the philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’s 1807 opus, The
Phenomenolog y of Spirit, there is a passage known as the master-slave dialectic.
In it, Hegel argues, among other things, that holding a slave ultimately
dehumanizes the master. And though he could not have known it at the time,
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What Is a Robot, Really? – The Atlantic
3/22/16, 7:39 PM
Hegel was describing our world, too, and aspects of the human relationship with
But what kind of world is that? And as robots grow in numbers and
sophistication, what is this world becoming?
The year was 1928. It was autumn, and a crowd had gathered at the Royal
Horticultural Hall in London to catch a glimpse of Eric Robot. People called him
that, like Robot was his last name, and referred to him as “he,” not “it.” Eric had
light bulbs for eyes and resembled “nothing so much as a suit of armor,” the
newspapers said. But he could stand and speak. This was an impressive
spectacle, and a jarring one. Eric had the “slanting eyes of [a] metal clad monster
[that] glare yellowly at them as he speaks,” The New York Times reported. “His
face had the horrible immobility of Frankenstein’s monsters. It had electric
eyeballs, a toothless mouth without lips, armorplated chest and arms and sharp
metal joints at the knees such as armored knights wear at the Metropolitan
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What Is a Robot, Really? – The Atlantic
3/22/16, 7:39 PM
Eric Robot the humanoid robot, photographed in 1928. (Bundesarchiv)
Eric’s oratory style was cold, and “lacking in magnetism.” It wasn’t even clear, at
the time, how the machine could speak. Eric’s guts were two 12-volt motors and
a series of belts and pulleys. “Worst of all,” the Times lamented, “Eric has no
pride, for you have to press electric buttons near his feet every time you want him
to come to life.”
Eric appeared to have some agency, but he wasn’t fully autonomous. To require
animation by the press of a button was, to the Times, a pitiable condition, even
for a robot. Perhaps that limitation was part of Eric’s appeal; it indicated just
enough reliance on humans for the robot to be beloved instead of feared. Eric
became so popular he went on an international tour. Reporters complained, in
1929, that Eric refused an interview on the ship ride from the United Kingdom
to the United States: “At the time when it should have been answering questions
as to what it thought of the skyline, it reposed peacefully in a box about the size
of a co?n,” the Times wrote.
But once Eric made it to the city, he perked up. An eager audience ?lled a
midtown theater in New York City, just to catch a glimpse of the globe-trotting
mechanical man. “Eric not only talked but he made jokes,” the Times wrote of
the performance. The robot had an English accent, though his inventor, Captain
William H. Richards, insisted Eric was speaking on his own, through a
“mysterious set of teeth.”
“Ladies and gentlemen, I am Eric the robot, the man without a soul. It gives me
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What Is a Robot, Really? – The Atlantic
3/22/16, 7:39 PM
great pleasure to be here with you in New York,” Eric said. He then delivered a
string of one-liners, quips like, “I am impressed by your tall buildings and
compressed by your subways,” and “The more I think of prohibition, the less I
think of it.” He mentioned he’d like a “blonde female robot” for a companion.
Newspapers reported that as Richards made improvements to Eric, the robot was
“gradually coming to life.”
“There’s 100 years of pop culture
momentum, making robots evil,
making them villains.”
Eric, it seems obvious now, did not have the agency his inventor claimed. It’s
likely, the robotics writer Reuben Hoggett says, that Richards coordinated with a
hidden person, or possibly used radio technology, to give the illusion that Eric
could speak on his own. This sort of deception was typical. Ajeeb, a chess player
made of wax and papier-mâché, was New York’s favorite automaton in the late
1880s. But Ajeeb wasn’t really an automaton, either; his creator, Peter Hill, hid
inside Ajeeb’s body and made him move—a job that entailed certain dangers
from infuriated players who lost. “A woman stabbed him through the mouth of
the automaton with a hat pin on one occasion and a Westerner shot him in the
shoulder by emptying a six-shooter into the automaton,” according to an
obituary for Hill in 1929.
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What Is a Robot, Really? – The Atlantic
3/22/16, 7:39 PM
An artist’s rendering of a cow-like automaton walking up a ship’s plank, 1886. (Library of Congress)
Actual automata have been around for centuries. In 350 B.C., the
mathematician Archytas is said to have built a self-propelled, steam-powered
dove out of wood. The surviving works of the engineer Hero, of Alexandria,
describe the functionalities of several automata, writes Minsoo Kang in his book,
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What Is a Robot, Really? – The Atlantic
3/22/16, 7:39 PM
Sublime Dreams of Living Machines, including “singing birds, satyrs pouring
water, a dancing ?gure of the god Pan, and a fully articulated puppet theater
driven by air, steam, and water power.” In 10th-century Europe, Emperor
Constantine VII apparently had a throne “?anked by golden lions that ‘gave a
dreadful roar with open mouth and quivering tongue’ and switched their tails
back and forth,” according to an Aeon essay by Elly Truitt, a medieval historian
at Bryn Mawr College.
A distrust of machines that come to life goes back at least as far as tales of
golems, and this uneasiness has remained persistent in contemporary culture. In
1970, when the robotics professor Masahiro Mori outlined a concept he called
the Uncanny Valley, he was building on centuries of literature. Mori sought to
explain why people are so often repulsed by humanoid robots—machines that
look nearly human, but not quite. He drew on themes from the psychologist
Sigmund Freud’s essay, Das Unheimliche, or the uncanny, published in 1919.
While doppelgängers, golems, living dolls, and automata are all ancient, the
word “robot” is not even a century old. It was coined by the playwright Karl
Capek in “R.U.R.,” short for Rossumovi Univerzální Roboti, or Rossum’s
Universal Robots, in 1921. “R.U.R.,” which tells the story of a global robothuman war, also helped set the tone for the modern conception of robots. The
play, at the time of its publication, was more of a political statement—on
communism, capitalism, and the role of the worker—than it was a technological
one. But ever since then, science ?ction has reinforced the idea that robots aren’t
just curiosities or performers; they’re likely adversaries, potential killers.
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What Is a Robot, Really? – The Atlantic
3/22/16, 7:39 PM
A staging of R.U.R., in New York City, in 1929. (New York Public Library)
“The Terminator movies had a tremendous impact,” said Christopher Atkeson, a
professor in the Robotics Institute and Human-Computer Interaction Institute at
Carnegie Mellon. “Given that Arnold Schwarzenegger looked like Arnold
Schwarzenegger, but also because what people remember is when, in that ?rst
movie, he was stripped down to the metal. They remember that aesthetic. So
there are two components there: One is a metal skeleton, and two is this thing is
actually trying to kill you. It’s not a helper, it’s a killer.” In science ?ction, the
leap from “helper” to “killer” often comes in the form of a robot uprising, with
machines dead-set on toppling a power structure that has humans on top.
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What Is a Robot, Really? – The Atlantic
3/22/16, 7:39 PM
The “killer robot,” though culturally pervasive, is not a fair representation of
robots in the real world, Atkeson says. Incidentally, he helped advise Disney as it
was designing its oversized marshmallowy robot hero, Baymax, who is very
much a helper in the ?lm Big Hero 6, and who doesn’t look anything like the
Terminator. But the popular conception of robots as being made from cold, hard
metal—but often disguised as humans—is a ?xture in stories and television, from
The Twilight Zone to Small Wonder.
Jean Marsh plays Alicia, a humanoid robot, in a 1959 episode of The Twilight Zone (CBS)
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What Is a Robot, Really? – The Atlantic
3/22/16, 7:39 PM
Alicia the robot is shot and destroyed in “The Lonely,” a 1959 episode of The Twilight Zone (CBS)
“Robotics as a technology is fascinating because it represents, even just in the
last 20 years, this transition of an idea from something that’s always been
[relegated to] pop culture to something that’s real,” said Daniel Wilson, a
robotics engineer and the author of the novel Robopocalypse. “There’s 100 years
of pop-culture momentum making robots evil, making them villains—but unlike
the Wolfman and the Creature from the Black Lagoon, these things became
After Capek brought “robot” into the lexicon, it quickly became a metaphor for
explaining how various technologies worked. By the late 1920s, just about any
machine that replaced a human job with automation or remote control was
referred to as a robot. Automatic cigarette dispensers were called “robot
salesmen,” a sensor that could signal when a tra?c light should change was a
“robot tra?c director,” or a “mechanical policeman,” a remote-operated
distribution station was a “robot power plant,” the gyrocompass was a “robot
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3/22/16, 7:39 PM
navigator,” new autopilot technology was a “robot airplane pilot,” and an antiaircraft weapon was a “robot gun.”
“Computers help us with
information tasks and robots help us
with physical tasks.”
Today, people talk about robots in similarly broad fashion. Just as “robot” was
used as a metaphor to describe a vast array of automation in the material world,
it’s now often used to describe—wrongly, many roboticists told me—various
automated tasks in computing. The web is crawling with robots programmed to
perform tasks online, including chatbots, scraper bots, shopbots, and twitter
bots. But those are bots, not robots. And there’s a di?erence.
“I don’t think there’s a formal de?nition that everyone agrees on,” said Kate
Darling, who studies robot ethics at MIT Media Lab. “For me, I really view
robots as embodied. For me, algorithms are bots and not robots.”
“What’s interesting about the spectrum of bots, is many of the bots have no
rendering at all,” said Rob High, the chief technology o?cer of Watson at IBM.
“They simply sit behind some other interface. Maybe my interface is the tweet
interface and the presence of the bot is entirely math—it’s back there in the ether
somewhere, but it doesn’t have any embodiment.”
For a robot to be a robot, many roboticists agree, it has to have a body.
“Something that can create some physical motion in its environment,” said
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What Is a Robot, Really? – The Atlantic
3/22/16, 7:39 PM
Hadas Kress-Gazit, a roboticist and mechanical engineering professor at Cornell
University. “It has the ability to change something in the world around you.”
“Computers help us with information tasks and robots help us with physical
tasks,” said Allison Okamura, a professor at Stanford who focuses on robots in
But a robot doesn’t necessarily have a body that resembles a human one. “The
truth is, we’re surrounded by robotics all the time,” Alonzo Kelly, a robotics
professor at Carnegie Mellon, told me. “Your washing machine is a robot. Your
dishwasher is a robot. You don’t need to have a very broad de?nition to draw that
conclusion… Robotics will continue to be ubiquitous and fairly invisible. Systems
will just be smarter and people will accept that. It’s occurring around us all the
time now.”
This is a commonly held position among robotics experts and computer
engineers; that robots have a tendency to recede into the background of ordinary
life. But another widely held viewpoint is that many of the things that are called
“robots” were never robots in the ?rst place. “When new technologies get
introduced, because they’re unfamiliar to us, we look for metaphors,” said High,
the IBM executive. “Maybe it’s easy to draw metaphors to robots because we
have a conceptive model in our mind… I don’t know if it’s that they stop being
robots; it’s that once when we ?nd comfort in the technology, we don’t need the
metaphor anymore.”
The technology writers Jason Snell and John Siracusa have an entire podcast
devoted to this idea. In their show, “Robot or Not?” they debate whether a
technology can accurately be called a robot. Their conversations often go
something like this one:
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What Is a Robot, Really? – The Atlantic
3/22/16, 7:39 PM
Jason: A self-checkout machine’s not a robot.
John: Nope.
Jason: It could, well—
John: —Nope.
Jason: What would make a self-checkout machine a robot? Would it have to
John: Maybe if it was a robot it would be a robot.
Jason: What if it had arms? What if there [were] bagging arms attached to
the self-checking machine? Would it be a robot?
John: No. No, it would not be. You know what it is. It’s an automated
checkout. It doesn’t do anything by itself. It barely does anything with the
help of a human. Like you can barely get it to ful?ll its intended function—
which is to register the prices and extract money from you—with you
participating the entire time. By itself, it does nothing.
Siracusa and Snell have made dozens of determinations, some with more robust
explanations than others: Drones are not robots, Siri is not a robot, telepresence
“robots” are not robots. But Roomba, the saucer-shaped vacuum cleaner, is one.
It meets the minimum standard for robotishness, they say, because you can turn it
on and it does a job without further direction. (Maybe that’s part of why, as
Kress-Gazit put it, “people get very attached to their roombas.”) The exercise of
debating what objects can accurately be called robots is delightful, but what
Siracusa and Snell are really arguing about is the fundamental question at the
heart of human-machine relations: Who is actually in control?
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What Is a Robot, Really? – The Atlantic
3/22/16, 7:39 PM
The year is 2096. Self-driving cars and trucks have reshaped commutes,
commerce, and the inner-workings of cities. Arti?cially intelligent systems have
placed sophisticated computer minds in sleek robot bodies. Cognitive assistants
—running on an intricate network of sensors monitoring humanity’s every move
—help ?nish people’s sentences, track and share their whereabouts in real-time,
automatically order groceries and birthday gifts based on complex personalized
algorithms, and tell humans where they left their sunglasses. Robots have
replaced people in the workforce en masse, claiming entire industries for
machine work. There is no distinction between online and o?ine. Almost every
object is connected to the Internet.
This is a future that many people today simultaneously want and fear. Driverless
cars could save millions of lives this century. But the economic havoc that robots
could wreak on the workforce is a source of real anxiety. Scholars at Oxford have
predicted the computerization of almost half of the jobs now performed by
humans, as soon as the 2030s. In the next two years alone, global sales of service
robots—like the dinosaur that checks in guests at the Henn-na Hotel in Japan, or
the robots who deliver room service in a group of California hotels, or the trilingual robot that assists Costa Cruise Line passengers—are expected to exceed
35 million units, according to the International Federation of Robotics. Earlier
this month, Hilton and IBM introduced Connie, the ?rst hotel-concierge robot
powered by Watson.
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One of the robots that checks in guests at Henn-na Hotel. (AP)
The tech research ?rm Business Intelligence estimates that the market for
corporate and consumer robots will grow to $1.5 billion by 2019. The rise of the
robots seems to have reached a tipping point; they’ve broken out of engineering
labs and novelty stores, and moved into homes, hospitals, schools, and
businesses. Their upward trajectory seems unstoppable. This isn’t necessarily a
good thing. While robots are poised to help improve and even save human lives,
people are left grappling with what’s at stake: A robot car might be …
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