[SIGCIS-Members] [Fwd: History of Robotics]

Petri Paju petpaju at utu.fi
Mon Nov 3 00:18:53 PST 2008

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: 	History of Robotics
Date: 	Sun, 02 Nov 2008 16:21:05 +0100
From: 	Zeiss R (TSS) <R.Zeiss at TSS.UNIMAAS.NL>

German Society for the History of Technology (GTG) Annual Conference
from May 22-24, 2009

at the Hochschule für Gestaltung Offenbach am Main

If “the atom” and then “the gene” were considered by History of Science
and Technology as symbols of the 20^th century, then “the robot”
ultimately joined their ranks at the beginning of the 21^st century.

In science fiction, visions of the future were and are being constructed
about the possible use of robots. These visions often show a rather
ambivalent view of these machines. Even current robotics casts both
positive and negative lights on them. Thus, developers and producers
promise that in the future robots will contribute to the solution of
such large and manifold problems of humanity as environmental
catastrophes or caring for the elderly.

A particularly controversy of the topic lies therein that robots appear
not only to be surpassing humans in regards to particular activities,
but also to be replacing them: with regard to heavy labor in industry,
particular cultural skills such as arithmetic or music, or in social
work, such as in the care of the handicapped, children or the sick.
Therefore, a challenge is to research if these developments will change
the self-conception of people in its relation to itself and to machines.
To arrange this question historically and to answer it is the task of
the History of Technology.

The goal of the planned interdisciplinary conference is threefold.
First, it should be discussed how the History of Technology can approach
a (temporal-)historiography of robots and robotics, in which the
presentation of robots in museums and exhibits would be analyzed.
Second, the history of robotics and robots should be concretely
discussed on the basis of various topics. Finally, it should be shown by
the example of robotics that the History of Technology can deliver
relevant contributions to answering modern questions.

The History of Culture and Technology has studied robots for quite some
time: it spans from cult use in antique temple automatons on through
courtly culture of automatons in the early modern period up to the
modern industrial use of robots. Thereby, also museums contribute to the
research and presentation of the history of robots. Let the following
topics and fields of interest be mentioned:

-         History of the vision of the future for robots

-         Interaction between science fiction and robotics

-         Historical change in the perception of the man-robot relationship

-         Robotics in international comparison

-         Application errors of robotics and its history (industry,
medicine, military, service, toy industry…)

-         Historical decisions regarding the use of robots in particular

-         The sociality of robots

-         The design of robots in the course of time: humanoid robots as
a model?

-         Historically based technology assessment

Abstracts for presentation suggestions (max. 350-400 words) should be
sent along with a one-page curriculum vitae until January 6, 2009 to:
Catarina Caetano da Rosa, caetano at histech.rwth-aachen.de
<mailto:caetano at histech.rwth-aachen.de>.


Catarina Caetano da Rosa

RWTH Aachen

Lehrstuhl für Geschichte der Technik

52056 Aachen

Petri Paju, FT, tutkija, Turun yliopisto
-- Ph.D. Researcher, Univ. of Turku

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