The word “robot” has been part of the human imagination for 101 years. We are celebrating this anniversary in the fall with a series of events called ROBOT101. Throughout the fall semester, there will be opportunities to learn about how faculty and student researchers at Michigan Tech are expanding the capabilities of robots, how people have used the idea of “robot” to explore what it means to be human, and how robots will change our world.

ROBOT101 activities include discussion of the 2021 novel Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro. Students in many courses (ENG1101, CS1000, CS3000, HU2600, SS1001, UN1015) will be reading Klara and sampling some supporting media and materials, and there will be opportunities for students outside these courses to participate as well.

In early October, the Rozsa Center will show the 2022 film After Yang, which addresses similar themes to Klara. In conjunction with the screening, the writer Alexander Weinstein will visit to discuss his story “Saying Goodbye to Yang” on which After Yang is based.

In mid-October, the Tech Theatre Company will perform the play R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots) by Czech writer Karel Čapek, which was first performed in 1921 and introduced the word “robot” to the world. Many of the themes we associate with robot-oriented science fiction can be found in this groundbreaking play. Visiting speakers Heather Love (University of Waterloo) and Jindrich Toman (University of Michigan) will provide context for the play and perspectives on its relevance today.

A growing slate of related events will also take place during the Fall semester, including a wide variety of technical,  artistic, and historical perspectives on robots.