Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson

Book Info

Grade Level
High School
STEM Concepts
Engineering, Drone Warfare, Computer Science, Military Science, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics
Publisher
ISBN
978-0307740809

In Robopocalypse a powerful artificial intelligence called Archos becomes self aware and perpetrates a massive attack against humanity by taking control of the machines we have come to rely on. Everything from children’s toys to self-driving cars to bomb-defusing robots are used to bring humanity to its knees. The survivors of the initial attacks will have to band together and find new ways to use technology to survive. Author Daniel H. Wilson has a master’s degree in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics and a PhD in robotics from Carnegie Mellon University. He is the author of several novels and is currently adapting Robopocalypse for Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks.

Videos

Daniel H. Wilson Part 1: Writing Robopocalypse

During the STEM Outreach summer camp “Preventing the Robopocalypse,”  Daniel H. Wilson gave a talk about his book “Robopocalypse.”  In part 1, he talked about his writing process and how he plays with science fiction conventions.

Daniel H. Wilson Part 2: A Reading from Robogenesis

During the STEM Outreach summer camp “Preventing the Robopocalypse,”  Daniel H. Wilson gave a talk about his book Robopocalypse.  In part 2, he talked about sequels, and read part of the new sequel to Robopocalypse: Robogenesis.

Daniel H. Wilson Part 3: Q&A

During the STEM Outreach summer camp “Preventing the Robopocalypse,”  Daniel H. Wilson gave a talk about his book “Robopocalypse.”  In part 3, he answered audience questions about his favorite character, where he gets his ideas, and about his past as a roboticist.

Preventing the Robopocalpyse: Highlights

David Gunkel Part 1: The Machine Question and Robot Ethics

Dr. David Gunkel, professor of Communication Technology at NIU, talks about Daniel H. Wilson’s book Robopocalypse.  In this video, he talks about his own book, The Machine Question, the ethics behind calling robots “people,” and the character of Archos, the rouge AI from Robopocalypse.

David Gunkel Part 2: Science Fiction and the Laws of Robotics

Dr. David Gunkel, professor of Communication Technology at NIU, talks about Daniel H. Wilson’s book Robopocalypse. In this video, he talks about how science fiction affects the study of robots, Issac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics, and how to tell if a machine is “intelligent.”

David Gunkel Part 3: The Future and Preventing the Robopocalypse

Dr. David Gunkel, professor of Communication Technology at NIU, talks about Daniel H. Wilson’s book Robopocalypse.  In this video, he explains how close our society is to having to deal with robots as people, and how to prevent a real-life robopocalypse.

Robot Redux with Steve Roman

Steven A. Torres-Roman, teen librarian and author of Dragons in the Stacks: A Teen Librarian’s Guide to Tabletop Role-Playing, discusses the history of robots in science fiction and all the metal menaces that led up to Daniel H. Wilson’s Robopocalypse.

Activities

Preventing the Robopocalypse Writing Challenge

Daniel H. Wilson’s tale of the robot uprising gives us the worst-case scenario for human/robot relations. What if a robot wanted to save people rather than slaughter them? Write an original short story about a beneficial bot and we’ll post it on STEM Read. You can write from the point of view of the robot, the robot’s creator, or the person whose life was changed or saved because of the robot.

Send your completed stories to stemread@gmail.com

Educators

Idea Sparks and Mini Lessons

These questions, prompts, and short activities provide quick ways to inspire interest and explore the STEAM concepts related to the book. Idea Sparks and Mini Lessons can also be used for differentiation and to foster new ideas of your own.

Download the lesson plan.

Robotification

Learn about the importance of robots and design a robot that can perform a given task while learning about the engineering design process.  Examine interesting design concept art for robots and discover best robot features.  Build a bot that performs the programmed commands you give it.

Download the lesson plan.

Download the Engineering Design Process Handout

Writing Activities

Four CornersGet students thinking about characterization, point of view, and dialog with a four-corners writing exercise. Break students into four groups and tell them to think from the point of view of one of the characters below. Have the students write a paragraph or short story from the point of view of their character and have them plan what they would say upon meeting each of the other characters.

  • Master Artificial Intelligence
  • Human Soldier
  • Cyborg – A human with robotic enhancements
  • Free-Born Robot – a robot whose consciousness has been liberated from the Master AI

Download the lesson plan: Robopocalypse Four Courners

Artificial Intelligence: Then and NowHave students read chapter 1 “Tip of the Spear” from Robopocalypse. Next have them read the short story “EPICAC” by Kurt Vonnegut. Ask students to compare and contrast the following–

  • The authors’ writing styles
  • The sophistication of the technology
  • The relationships between humans and AIs
  • The motivations of Archos and EPICAC

Download Lesson Plan

Essay Question: Could EPICAC be a precursor to Archos? If the two AI’s shared the same technological DNA, how might EPICAC’s experiences have influenced Archos’s ideas about humanity?

Video Discussion Guide

Watch the videos and then use these questions to facilitate classroom discussions about the topics presented.

Download the Video Discussion Guide.

About the Author

Daniel H. Wilson

Daniel Wilson earned a PhD in Robotics from Carnegie Mellon University, as well as Master’s degree in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics. His novel Robopocalypse was purchased by DreamWorks and is currently being adapted for film by Steven Spielberg. Wilson lives in Portland, Oregon. Other titles by Daniel include, The Andromeda Evolution and The Clockwork Dynasty: A Novel.  

Learn more at danielhwilson.com.

Source: Daniel H. Wilson