Our Robots, Ourselves: Robotics and the Myths of Autonomy

Our Robots, Ourselves: Robotics and the Myths of Autonomy, by David Mindell, frames autonomy from a different perspective. Autonomy isn’t necessarily the incorporation of advanced electronics and artificial intelligence. Mindell writes, autonomy is “human action removed by time.” A human performs the task by physical presence or by program in the laboratory. Despite the distance or number of intermediary steps (between the programmer, operator, or physical action), the human is still present; albeit remotely. Once one thinks of autonomy this way, many of the dilemmas it presents fall away. Automation of a task does not alter its nature fundamentally, though it may alter the way it’s perceived

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