Author of numerous scientific articles and several books on robotics, Jean-Claude Heudin published a fictionalized version of RUR: Rossum’s Universal Robots. The director of IIM (Institute of Multimedia Internet) in Paris La Defense brings back the day room of the Czech writer Karel Čapek. Written in 1920 and performed for the first time in Prague in 1921, it depicts a society where humanoids, widely used in factories, on the battlefield. It was in this room that the writer coined the term “Robot”.
At a time when advances in artificial intelligence is accelerating and where the military uses of robots, this text is a surprising news.
The revolt of the robots, a scenario already mentioned in 1920
We are in the 20s researcher, Rossum has worked to create artificial living beings. After creating an artificial monstrous dog, he manages to create a nickname first human that survives only 3 days. After a few tries, he managed to create an artificial man, the Robot (the Czech “Robota” to work), a being devoid of feeling that will be marketed on a large scale by the small son of the researcher, greedy for money. 2½ times more productive than the workers, they will be manufactured millions of copies. All industrialists want to replace the workers. Those that do not put the key under the door one after the other. The Universal Robot Rossum, mass-produced, lower the price of all products at a marginal price, lead wars on behalf of humans. Nevertheless, by dint of making increasingly sophisticated these robots, they will become aware of their slave position and will turn against their creator.
The story written by Karel Capek in 1920 has inspired many works, from Metropolis shot in 1927 by Fritz Lang, to “I, Robot” in 2004 without forgetting the Terminator in 1984. Nevertheless, the robot Karel Čapek was a biological being, closer to the clone or assembly of artificial organs, just like Ash, the science officer of the Nostromo in Alien ship.
If, as Jean-Claude Heudin, room Karel Čapek was part of the technophobe aware of an era that saw the machines as a human debasement tool. Today robotics is seen as a threat to jobs, artificial intelligence, a threat to all humanity. An already written script there almost 100 years.