Author(s): Ben Russell
Humanoid robots are some of the most wondrous machines ever built. By imagining and reconstructing ourselves in artificial bodies, we are able to discover what amazing machines we are. But while mirroring our humanity, robots also offer insights into how we have rationalised our technological ambitions, our sense of wonder at ourselves, and our position in a rapidly changing world. Robots: the 500-Year Quest to Make Machines Human explores the surprisingly long history of our obsession with creating machines in human form, from 16th-century mechanised monks to the 'tin man' robots of the 1950s and cutting-edge robots from today's research labs. This ground-breaking book features an astonishing array of robotic artefacts from around the world, including expertly crafted clockwork automata, uncanny robot actors, trumpet-playing humanoids and even a talking 'receptionist' head. Focusing on why robots exist rather than on how they work, the book avoids cliches about machines taking over the world and destroying humankind, and instead aims to reassure us that in future robots will continue to complement and enhance our human capabilities.
Ben Russell is Curator of Mechanical Engineering at the Science Museum, London. He is lead curator of the museum's Robots exhibition, and has researched and curated a wide range of other exhibitions and permanent galleries, books and publications.