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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


Ultimate Robot by Robert Malone (DK Publishing Inc.) is both a visual feast of the robot in pop culture and a reference guide for collectors of toy, kit, and warrior robot memorabilia - the first definitive guide for all readers fascinated by these amazing mechanical wonders. Packed with over 500 color photographs of all types of robots, from classic tin toys and film androids to Battlebots and futuristic fantasy robots, Ultimate Robot covers the history of robotics, the innovators who made robots possible, a glossary of useful terms, and the robots of tomorrow.

Flesh and Machines: How Robots Will Change Us by Rodney Allen Brooks (Pantheon) explores the startlingly reciprocal connection between humans and their technological brethren, and explains how this relationship is being redefined as humans develop increasingly complex machines. The impetus to build machines that exhibit lifelike behaviors stretches back centuries, but for the last fifteen years much of this work has been done in Rodney Brooks’s laboratory at MIT. His goal is not simply to build machines that are like humans but to alter our perception of the potential capabilities of robots. Our current attitude toward intelligent robots, he asserts, is simply a reflection of our own view of ourselves.

Flesh and Machines, Brooks challenges that view by suggesting that human nature can be seen to possess the essential characteristics of a machine. Our instinctive rejection of that idea, he believes, is itself a conditioned response: we have programmed ourselves to believe in our “tribal specialness” as proof of our uniqueness.

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