Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Nikalus. Nikalus Wonders, “Do robots wonder?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Nikalus!

Do you interact with any robots on a daily basis? Really think about it. In today’s world, robots are becoming more and more common in homes and schools. Maybe you’ve seen robots that vacuum the floor for you. Or perhaps you’ve played with a toy robot before. If so, you may have noticed that this type of technology is becoming more advanced all the time.

Have you ever WONDERed whether robots think for themselves? Or can they only do what we humans program them to do? Can robots WONDER about things? Or do they simply wait for the next command to be sent to their computer brains?

What exactly is a robot, anyway? Most people define it as a machine that is controlled by electronic programming, usually in the form of a computer. Many can be controlled remotely. Robots can be programmed to do many different types of tasks. Some can be done automatically, while others may be done with guidance from a human controller.

For much of history, humans have looked for ways to make tasks easier. Often, this has been achieved with the invention of machines. True robots, however, are a much more recent invention. The first electronic robots were built by William Grey Walter in England in 1948. American George Devol, Jr. invented the first digital and programmable robot a few years later in 1954.

Today, robots are used for many different jobs. Some robots mow lawns or clean swimming pools. Others help build cars in large factories. Robots are also used in modern warfare.

Robots also can do tasks that are too dangerous for humans. For example, robots can be sent into outer space. They can visit the depths of the sea. Robots have been able to explore areas that humans can’t yet reach on their own.

Many kids across the United States are learning to build and program robots. Schools can now participate in LEGO® Robotics competitions. These teach young children how to build and program basic robots to perform a number of simple tasks.

But can today’s robots actually think for themselves? You may have heard the term “artificial intelligence” at some point. Does this mean that scientists have created robots that can think just like humans?

The term “artificial intelligence” refers to sophisticated robots. They can perform complex tasks that require decision making. These robots may seem to think like humans, but they are still robots. They just have advanced programming that allows them to mimic human thought and behavior.

Robots still cannot think on their own like humans. However, many scientists believe such breakthroughs may be possible in the next 20-30 years. What do you think? Do you want robots to be able to think just like humans? Why or why not? The future could hold incredible things in the world of robots!

Standards: NGSS.ETS1.A, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1

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