Robot exhibit at the Design Museum in Zurich

Robots Went to Zurich last wednesday, for the robot exhibit at the Design Museum. Called "Robots - From Motion to Emotion?", it is meant to give an overview of robotic research, with a presentation of robot highlights (ASIMO, nanorobots or the robotic jockey) as well as addressing issues such as: why robots are accepted or rejected and what characteristics determine the relationship of people to machines.

However, the part that I attracted my interest was the weird desk of a robotic designer: Robot designer desk

It's actually a "staged mess" that may be supposed to show how robot design is grounded into specific references (books, picture, newspaper clipping), artifacts (computers, electronic and electric tools) and prototypes. Unfortunately, this part was documented. I was thus left out with my own musing when examining it. If you look at the books in the picture below, you can see that the references that has been chosen ranges from "The Buddha in the robot" to "Y2K or "Action perception" and Charles Stross's "Singularity". Don't know what lead to this choice but there were also different pieces by Asimov that I haven't captured. Obviously the bible for robot designers/fans (that said, I am often mesmerized by the preponderance of Asimov in this field, there might be a lot to do in terms of Non-Asimovian robot design, as Frederic highlighted already) Robot designer desk

The office floor interestingly features cat food and a cat food dispenser, which may account for the importance of animal proximity in the robot design process. Perhaps some sort of hint to tell us to what extent creating a bot needs a metaphor from living beings: Robot designer desk

Why do I blog this? the whole exhibit gives and interesting overview of the robot scene but I was a bit disappointed by the design/art part since there's a lot going on this field. For that matter, it was a bit conservative. And as usual with robots, there is always a strong emphasis on locomotion as opposed to other characteristics of robots that I would find more intriguing to explore (agency, learning from the history of interactions, networked capabilities, etc.).