Events / History / Robotics

Go ‘Dancing with Droids’ at North Philly’s Victorian-era science museum

An Oct. 28 conversation between Penn's Adelheid Voskuhl and Drexel's Youngmoo Kim will explore our long-running fascination with robots.

Inside the Wagner's historic lecture hall, where Wednesday's event will take place. (Photo by Flickr user Wagner Free Institute of Science, used under a Creative Commons license)

Those who cling tightly to Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics are probably not as skeptical of humanoid companions as Philadelphia native son Will Smith was in the film adaptation of Asimov’s I, Robot. Nonetheless, with Google assembling an army of robotics startups and self-driving Uber cars perhaps less than a decade away, the question of artificial intelligence, and humans’ relationship to it, is germane to our times.
It’s with such a backdrop in mind that North Philly’s Wagner Free Institute of Science, with the Consortium for History of Science, Technology and Medicine, is presenting Dancing with Droids. On Oct. 28, this two-part free talk will bring together University of Pennsylvania historian Adelheid Voskuhl and Drexel University professor and engineer Youngmoo Kim for an examination of humans’ perception of robots from the 19th century through the present day.
Voskuhl brings expertise on Victorian-era attitudes toward automata (fitting, considering the Wagner was first opened in 1865 and maintains a charmingly old-school vibe) while Kim will talk about robot consciousness and what it means for a robot to be self-aware. (It’s not unlike a conversation Kim had with cofounder Christoper Wink for a recent episode of the Podcast.)
Dancing with Droids is the second Weeknights at the Wagner event, a series celebrating the Wagner’s 150th anniversary this year.

Companies: Drexel University / ExCITe Center / University of Pennsylvania / Wagner Free Institute of Science

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