Chicago Public takes on Robot Empowerment

My final chapter in Robot Futures tries to argue that, while much of the visions I describe are dystopian, when robotic technologies are adopted by communities for local agendas, they can be agents of learning and change- in short, they can be catalysts for empowerment and technical fluency. This weekend Chicago’s entire Public Library System announced such a development, and we are flattered at the CREATE Lab that they have undertaken their experiment with the Finch, a low-cost programmable robot clothed as a computer accessory that is marketed by Birdbrain Robotics as a licensee of CREATE. The Examiner has one article describing this public library lending project in detail here.  We are hoping to make quite a number of tangible devices available to public libraries around the country. Libraries are ideally situated to serve as hubs, not only for lending books and providing equitable Internet access, but also for lending out robotic sensing and actuation technologies that can empower local citizenry- devices such as water quality and air quality meters, robot programming systems and technology fluency kits.

 

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