The Robot in the Garden
Telerobotics and Telepistemology in the Age of the Internet
386 pp., 7 x 9 in,
- Published: August 24, 2001
- Publisher: The MIT Press
- Published: March 15, 2000
- Publisher: The MIT Press
An interdisciplinary collection of essays on telepistemology—the study of knowledge acquired at a distance.
The Robot in the Garden initiates a critical theory of telerobotics and introduces telepistemology, the study of knowledge acquired at a distance. Many of our most influential technologies, the telescope, telephone, and television, were developed to provide knowledge at a distance. Telerobots, remotely controlled robots, facilitate action at a distance. Specialists use telerobots to explore actively environments such as Mars, the Titanic, and Chernobyl. Military personnel increasingly employ reconnaissance drones and telerobotic missiles. At home, we have remote controls for the garage door, car alarm, and television (the latter a remote for the remote).
The Internet dramatically extends our scope and reach. Thousands of cameras and robots are now accessible online. Although the role of technical mediation has been of interest to philosophers since the seventeenth century, the Internet forces a reconsideration. As the public gains access to telerobotic instruments previously restricted to scientists and soldiers, questions of mediation, knowledge, and trust take on new significance for everyday life.
Telerobotics is a mode of representation. But representations can misrepresent. If Orson Welles's "War of the Worlds" was the defining moment for radio, what will be the defining moment for the Internet? As artists have always been concerned with how representations provide us with knowledge, the book also looks at telerobotics' potential as an artistic medium.
The seventeen essays, by leading figures in philosophy, art, history, and engineering, are organized into three sections: Philosophy; Art, History, and Critical Theory; and Engineering, Interface, and System Design.
Albert Borgmann, Tom Campanella, John Canny, Judith Donath, Hubert Dreyfus, Ken Goldberg, Alvin Goldman, Oliver Grau, Marina Gržinić, Blake Hannaford, Michael Idinopulos, Martin Jay, Eduardo Kac, Machiko Kusahara, Jeff Malpas, Lev Manovich, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Eric Paulos, Catherine Wilson
The Robot in the Garden brings together some of the most profound thinkers currently writing about such issues as telepresence, internet art, and the statusof the real in a virtual age. Moreover, they frequently disagree with oneanother, an indication of the intellectual vitality of this work. Ken Goldbergs discussion of his pioneering work with robotic art sets the high standard that other distinguished contributors carry on, from Martin Jay to Eduardo Kac, Lev Manovich to Albert Borgmann. Don't miss out on this important collection.
N. Katherine Hayles, Professor of English, University of California, Los Angeles