More and more people think the rise of the robots is coming. Advances in robotics and artificial intelligence mean that machines are poised to do more and more jobs once done by humans. This could be wonderful: it could free humans from drudgery and provide a better life for everyone.

Or it could be hell: a nightmare world where vast numbers of people are unemployed or surplus to requirements, while a small elite of machine-owners and technologists reap all the benefits. Some have argued that the widening gap between the rich and the poor is a sign that this is already happening.

The event marked the launch of Nesta's new book Our Work Here is Done which looks at the frontiers of robot technology and the consequences for the economy and our society.

Following the discussion with the book's contributors, Nesta's HQ was taken over by the robots themselves. As well as demonstrations of some fantastically cool robot tech, we heard presentations from engineers, hackers, designers, historians and philosophers.


Frances Coppola

Associate Editor at Pieria

Dr. Nick Hawes

Senior Lecturer in Intelligent Robotics at the University of Birmingham

Izabella Kaminska

Reporter for the Financial Times Alphaville service

Elly Truitt

Assistant Professor of Comparative Medieval History at Bryn Mawr College

Ryan Avent

Economics Correspondent, The Economist

Carlota Perez

Professor of Technology and Development, LSE and University of Tallinn

James Auger

Designer and Lecturer, Royal College of Art

Amol Deshmukh

Research Associate, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh

Rich Walker & Juan Laforga

Shadow Robot

Ben Russell

Curator of Mechanical Engineering at the Science Museum

Dr Yiannis Demiris

Reader (Associate Professor) in Personal Robotics, Imperial College London

Wayne Tubby

RAL Space