Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Daniel H. Wilson

Daniel H. Wilson is an engineer who earned his PhD in robotics at Carnegie Mellon University. His books include Bro-Jitsu, How to Survive a Robot Uprising, Where's My Jetpack?, How to Build a Robot Army, and Robopocalypse.

From Wilson's Q & A about the book:

You have your Ph.D. in Robotics from Carnegie Mellon. Having made the leap from studying robotics to creating an all-out robot Armageddon in ROBOPOCALYPSE, do you believe we will ever see a real robot uprising?

My professional opinion is that robots are not going to rise up and slaughter humankind. Isn't that comforting? Instead, I believe the idea of a robot uprising embodies the thing that we're all really afraid of: our near total dependence on technology for survival. Billions of human beings are alive today thanks to an ancient, towering infrastructure of technology cobbled together over the ages. If this technology were to disappear - or worse, turn on us - how would we survive?

You have said that ROBOPOCALYPSE "explores the intertwined fates of regular people who face a future filled with murderous machines." Cell phones, toy dolls, elevators, and even the "Big Happy" domestic robots turn on their owners and become creepily sinister. In terms of technological advances, are you concerned that computers or robots could eventually "think" on their own someday?

Machines of all shapes and sizes can already think on their own - and that is absolutely wonderful. A robot is only useful because it can think. Artificially intelligent machines make our cars safer, sniff out bombs, and build our favorite products. The sinister part only arrives when we consider that "thinking" also happens to be the only attribute that makes a human useful. I see why that can be a bit threatening, but I think there is plenty of room for thinkers here on planet earth.

One of the most interesting robot battling groups in the book is the Osage Nation in Gray Horse, Oklahoma. You are part Cherokee and grew up in Tulsa. How did your upbringing shape the residents and setting of Gray Horse in the book?

In 1889, the United States government took Indian Territory away from Native Americans and gave it to settlers. Nevertheless, there are...[read on]
Visit Daniel Wilson's blog.

My Book, The Movie: A Boy and His Bot.

Writers Read: Daniel H. Wilson.

--Marshal Zeringue