Robots are omnipresent in pop culture. Since the term was coined nearly a century ago, robots have played the role of sidekick, villain, and protagonist in some of the greatest science fiction works of all time. But there’s a lot that books and movies get wrong about our mechanical companions. Here are 11 myths about robots that your favorite TV shows and films have helped spread.
1. ROBOTS ARE A MODERN INVENTION.
It’s hard not to associate robots with visions of the future, but we’ve been building artificial helpers to complete tasks for us for thousands of years. In 400 BCE, long before the advent of electricity, the inventor of the pulley and the screw built a wooden pigeon capable of flight. Centuries later the Roman writer Petronius Arbiter built a doll that moved like a person and in 1557, inventor Giovanni Torriani constructed a wooden bot to pick up the Holy Roman Emperor’s daily bread. Some early concepts more closely resembled the metal machines we know today, including designs for a mechanical knight published by Leonardo da Vinci in 1495.
2. THE MAJORITY OF ROBOTS ASSEMBLE CARS.
If you had cited this as fact a few decades ago, you would have been correct: The automotive industry once accounted for 90 percent of all robots in use. But today they’re good for a lot more than assembling cars. Half of the world’s robots can be found in diverse environments including hospitals, labs, and energy plants, with the other 50 percent still working in auto manufacturing.
3. ROBOTS ARE EXPENSIVE.
Home robots have been around for a while, but the steep price of some flashier products has put the technology out of reach for many households. Believe it or not affordable home robots do exist—buyers just have to know what they’re looking for. Smaller, simple robots like kids’ toys, rolling alarm clocks and smart security cameras can all be purchased for less than $50. If you’re willing to set your price ceiling a little higher, more interactive robots that do everything from keeping you company on walks to encouraging you to exercise can be found for under $200.
4. ROBOTS WILL LEAD TO MASS UNEMPLOYMENT.
While it’s true that increased automation will lead to the extinction of many jobs, this issue often gets blown out of proportion. Americans have had anxiety over being replaced with new technology since the 1800s. As has been the case throughout history, future technological developments will likely also play a hand in job creation. So while bank tellers, telemarketers, and loan officers may be taken over by computers in the not-too-distant future, new jobs we can’t yet predict will likely take their place.
5. ONLY PROFESSIONALS CAN BUILD ROBOTS.
You don’t need an engineering degree to build a robot of your own. With the right tools and an urge to tinker, anyone can build a basic robot at home for around…