Almost Human

Making Robots Think

Lee Gutkind

The high bay at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University is alive and hyper night and day with the likes of Hyperion, which traversed the Antarctic, and Zoe, the world's first robot scientist, now back home. Robot Segways learn to play soccer, while other robots go on treasure hunts or are destined for hospitals and museums. Dozens of cavorting mechanical creatures, along with tangles of wire, tools, and computer innards are scattered haphazardly. All of these zipping and zooming gizmos are controlled by disheveled young men sitting on the floor, folding chairs, or tool cases, or huddled over laptops squinting into displays with manic intensity. Award-winning author Lee Gutkind immersed himself in this frenzied subculture, following these young roboticists and their bold conceptual machines from Pittsburgh to NASA and to the most barren and arid desert on earth. He makes intelligible their discoveries and stumbling points in this lively behind-the-scenes work.

Reviews

Robots Aren't About to Kill Us, Because They're Less Reliable Than Windows 95

January 2, 2010

Lee Gutkind's 2007 book Almost Human: Making Robots Think offers an optimistic view of the world of robotics: no, robots will not... read more

The Winding Road to the Robotic Future

Wall Street Journal

March 16, 2007

What emerges in "Almost Human" is a fascinating, frustrating, sad story. The Carnegie-Mellon researchers have big dreams. They... read more

Obsessive Geniuses Strive to Create Almost Human Robots

Wired News

March 29, 2007

Behind every Hasbro Butterscotch Robotic Pony and every NASA rover exploring Mars are teams of roboticists who've worked obsessively... read more

Android Dreams

L.A. Times

March 18, 2007

[A]n entertaining peek behind the scenes at the flesh-and-blood engineers of the groundbreaking Robotics Institute, much of whose... read more