CSUF Professor’s New Book on the History of Robots in America Resonates in Coronavirus Era

Historians in the News
tags: robots, COVID-19, Automation

The stay-at-home order over the coronavirus pandemic threw a kink into plans for a launch party to celebrate Dustin Abnet’s new book, “The American Robot: A Cultural History.”


Still, the topic of his book — robots in the American culture — is increasingly becoming part of the national discussion in this pandemic era, especially as it relates to the safety of health care and other workers.

“I saw articles in Wired and the Washington Post about how this is going to lead to more robots in American society,” said Abnet, who worked on the book, published by University of Chicago Press, for more than 11 years.

“Amazon has been trying for the last several years to develop more automated means of distributing goods. But it’s really a whole wide range of things. Anything you can automate to get rid of any human contact, the safer it will be,” he said. “And I think that’s a longstanding discussion in American cultural life and one we need to think carefully about. Once those kinds of jobs are gone then what’s going to replace them? Are we going to build for ourselves later problems?”

“The American Robot” explores how robots and their like — automatons, androids, artificial intelligence and cyborgs — are tied to questions about modern culture.

Read entire article at Orange County Register

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