Science Fiction Dictionary
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

Latest By
Category:


Armor
Artificial Intelligence
Biology
Clothing
Communication
Computers
Culture
Data Storage
Displays
Engineering
Entertainment
Food
Input Devices
Lifestyle
Living Space
Manufacturing
Material
Media
Medical
Miscellaneous
Robotics
Security
Space Tech
Spacecraft
Surveillance
Transportation
Travel
Vehicle
Virtual Person
Warfare
Weapon
Work

"In science fiction one can say a great many things that are unpalatable, because it's expressed as science fiction you can slip it past their defenses."
- Frederik Pohl

Robot  
  A (usually human-shaped) artifact with the same kinds of abilities as a human - this is the first use of the word 'robot'.  

This play R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots) premiered in Prague, Czechoslovakia in 1921. The word "robot" comes from the Czech word robota, which means "drudgery" or "servitude"; a robotnik is a serf who performs menial labor.

Domin: "Practically speaking, what is the best kind of worker?"

Helena: "The best? Probably the one who-- who-- who is honest-- and dedicated."

Domin: "No, it's the one that's the cheapest. The one with the fewest needs... [Young Rossum] chucked out everything not directly related to work, and [in] doing that he virtually rejected the human being and created the Robot."

Technovelgy from R.U.R., by Karel Capek.
Published by Not Available in 1920
Additional resources -

Although today we usually think of the word "robot" in association with some sort of electromechanical being made of metal and spare parts, the artifact in the play R.U.R. is closer to what we would call an android. The robots were fabricated in a biological manner.

They remember everything, while at the same time thinking of nothing new; one of the characters remarks that "they'd make fine university professors."

Capek himself credits his brother Josef Capek as the originator of the term "robot". The play was issued in an English translation in 1923, introducing the term to the English-speaking world.

It appears that Isaac Asimov, rightly famed for his collection of stories about robots, was the originator of associated terms like "robotics" and "roboticist".

The idea of an artificial person is quite old. The ancient Greek legend of Cadmus, who sowed dragon teeth that turned into soldiers, is one example. Another is the story of Pygmalion, an artist so great that one of his beautiful sculptures, Galatea, came to life. The Greeks also tell of Hephaestus, the blacksmith of the gods, who created metal mechanical figures; the mythical mechanical creation Talos defended Crete.

Capek himself recognized that his "robota" were recreations of the golem, a creation of Jewish folklore. The golem is formed of earth or clay in a roughly human shape and then animated by religious or magical forces.

The Greek genius Ctesibius of Alexandria created clocks that activated simple automata at set times in the third century B.C. His machines and automata were described in a First Century A.D. document by Heron of Alexandria.

See the term andy from Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick for another look at non-mechanical robots. Also, compare to the autonomous digging machine from The War of the Worlds (1898) by HG Wells and to the steam man from The Steam Man of the Prairies (1868) by Edward S. Ellis.

Comment/Join this discussion ( 1 ) | RSS/XML | Blog This |

Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from R.U.R.
  More Ideas and Technology by Karel Capek
  Tech news articles related to R.U.R.
  Tech news articles related to works by Karel Capek

Robot-related news articles:
  - Roomba's Brother PackBot
  - Android Weightlifter Now Capable Of Body Slam
  - Wakamaru Robot Receptionists Hired By Temp Agency
  - RunBot Learns To Walk At Human Speed

Articles related to Robotics
'Birds Aren't Real' An NPR Gen-Z Conspiracy
Mika The Robot-Boss
Sensitive, Soft Robot Skin
Finger Sensors For Robot Hands

Want to Contribute an Item? It's easy:
Get the name of the item, a quote, the book's name and the author's name, and Add it here.

<Previous
Next>

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

 

 

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Science Fiction Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

Science Fiction Timeline
1600-1899
1900-1939
1940's   1950's
1960's   1970's
1980's   1990's
2000's   2010's

Science Fiction in the News

Russians Think US Is Weaponizing Asteroids
'BY PUSHING AGAINST THE LITTLE MARTIAN MOON WITH OUR ROCKET SHIP, WE HAD LESSENED THE CENTRIFUGAL SPEED THAT HELD IT BALANCED IN THE SKY.'

The Warp And Fabric Of Spacetime
'Jenkins had evidently fallen into a warp in space.'

'Birds Aren't Real' An NPR Gen-Z Conspiracy
Keep your eyes on the skies!

Wearable Energy Harvester
'... he had tightened the chest to gain maximum pumping action from the motion of breathing.'

Drones Participate In Buddhist Rites
'...a prayer wheel swung into view and began spinning at a furious pace.'

Anna Indiana AI Singer-Songwriter
'She is a personality-construct, a congeries of software agents'

Video Manicuring ala Schismatrix
'The program raced up the screen one scan line at a time'

'Feel the AGI' OpenAI Leader Now OpenWorship
'And are all the people willing to be governed by a machine?'

NASA Tests Prototype Europa Lander
Why have legs if they don't walk around?

Tailsitter Drone Aircraft For SAR
'...it was so easy for me to remain motionless in midair.'

More SF in the News

More Beyond Technovelgy

Home | Glossary | Science Fiction Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.