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February 24, 2007

Standardising Robots

Picture of a presentation.I guess you have also endured presentations where a speaker reads a hail of bullet points on a projected Microsoft PowerPoint slide, usually with their back to the audience. Edward R. Tufte puts it beautifully: "Power corrupts. PowerPoint corrupts absolutely". So much can standardised PC software constrain our ideas and our behaviour.

So, I was concerned when I read Bill Gates in January 2007 Scientific American: A Robot in Every Home. Mr. Gates talks about robots as though they were mobile PCs. Robotics, he says, is a highly fragmented industry with few common standards or platforms—and it needs some.

If he's right, let’s hope the robots make better use of standard software than some humans.