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Robots: the unfinished revolution

Date: 07 August 2015 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM, Venue: The Great Hall, The Quadrangle at The University of Sydney

The first-ever use of the word 'robot' is credited to the Czech writer Karel Čapek (1890–1938), whose R.U.R. Rosumovi Univerzální Roboti (Rossum’s Universal Robots) portrays a world overrun by robots who had seemed ‘happy’ to work for humans at first. This celebration of Čapek's work will revisit his classic play and examine its lingering significance in light of today's revolutionary developments in the field of robotics.
The event marks the 125th anniversary of one of the most important Czech of the 20th century and his legacy.


We're living through a second machine age revolution featuring the application of artificial intelligence and digital robots to ever-widening spheres of daily life. Many innovations are astonishing: their ingenuity and boldness are triggering utopian hopes for life on Earth and dystopian fears of a future in which human freedom and equality are swallowed up by intelligent design.



A panel of distinguished speakers will assess the contours of the unfinished revolution and consider why it is triggering hopes and fears and what these tell us about power, politics and the human condition in these early years of the 21st century. “Sulla isn't a person, Miss Glory, she's a robot.” (R.U.R.)



  • Ivan M. Havel is the editor-in-chief of the Czech scientific journal Vesmír (The Universe) and co-founder and former director of the Center for Theoretical Study, an international cross-disciplinary institution affiliated with Charles University and the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic in Prague.


  • Tereza Todorová works at the Karel Čapek Memorial as a researcher, focusing on Karel Čapek’s life and work. She published her book Karel Čapek at Strž (Karel Čapek na Strži) in 2014. The book examines forgotten periods of Čapek’s life. She is a member of the committee of the Čapek Brothers Society.
  • Associate Professor Fabio Ramos is in machine learning and robotics at the School of Information Technologies in the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies at the University of Sydney. He leads the Robotics Learning and Reasoning Group.


  • Associate Professor Mari Velonaki is founder of the Creative Robotics Lab (CRL)  based in the National Institute of Experimental Art , COFA  UNSW. She has worked as an artist and researcher in the field of interactive installation art since 1995.


  • Professor John Keane (chair) is Professor of Politics at the University of Sydney and at the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin (WZB). He is the Director of the Sydney Democracy Network (SDN).


Full speakers´ biographies are here

Free event with online registration requested. Please click here for the registration page.

Co-presented with the Sydney Democracy Network and the Consulate of the Czech Republic in Sydney.

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More information about Karel Čapek on Memorial site