The word “robot” entered the English language 100 years ago

The word “robot” entered the English language exactly 100 years ago, because the play R.U.R. was premiered in English by The New York Theater Guild on 9th of October 1922. It is commonly accepted fact all around the world that the word “robot” invented by Karel Čapek was introduced to the English language in 1921, but the world premiere of the play R.U.R. subtitled as Rossum's Universal Robots, where the word “robot” was used first time, was in the National Theatre in Prague on 25th of January 1921 and it was limited just to the Czechoslovak audience. The English anniversary of the word “robot” is today!

Two years ago, on the Czech centenary of R.U.R., I have edited a book “Robot 100: Sto rozumů”. This book includes the first edition of R.U.R. in its original 1920 version together with contemporary perspectives on Čapek's one-hundred-year-old piece through the eyes of one hundred personalities from the Czech Republic and from around the world, including scientists, writers, journalists, artists, and athletes. The reader can realize how many contemporary questions were posed in the century-old Czech science fiction play, as well as learn the facts about the history and progress in fields such as robotics, synthetic biology, artificial life and artificial intelligence, and discover the challenges arising from today’s modern technologies. The book also aims to highlight that robots in R.U.R. were made of chemically synthesized soft matter resembling a living matter, and that robots are not necessarily just electro-mechanically driven metal constructions. In addition to scientific texts written in a popular way, the book comprises artistic contributions such as drawings and sci-fi commentary.

However, the book “Robot 100: Sto rozumů” was determined just for the Czech readers. It is my pleasure to announce today, that also the English edition will be offered to the English readers. We are preparing a similar book with MIT Press and it will be published next year under the title: “Karel Čapek's R.U.R. and the Vision of Artificial Life”. Although one can find various English translations of R.U.R., they are usually the adaptations of Čapek's work, they are inaccurate and none of them is based on the original 1920 edition. And thus, our book will offer a completely new translation of R.U.R. by prof. Štěpán Šimek. Further the book will contain selected essays focused namely on Čapek's visions of artificial life and the robots-related illustrations provided by The International Children's Exhibition of Fine Arts Lidice.

Stay tuned, more details about the English edition of my book coming soon!