Robohub.org
 

Joanne Pransky: Rest in Peace (1959-2023)

by
29 June 2023



share this:

It is with great sadness that I am sharing that Joanne Pransky, the World’s First Robotic Psychariatrist, and who Isaac Asimov called the real Susan Calvin passed away recently. I had several delight conversations with her, including an interview and moderated panel.

Joanne was a tireless advocate for robotics AND for women in robotics. She didn’t have advanced degrees in robotics but had worked in the robotics industry and then in robot trade journals- she had quite the eye for finding really useful technology versus hype. Her enthusiasm and passion for constantly learning was an inspiration to me and I was privileged to know her as a friend. I interviewed her a few years ago about Asimov which you can see here. She points out how amazing Asimov was- at 19 years old writing about robots and imagining them in a positive way, as helpers, companions, tools to enable us to do more of the “human” stuff- not the shoot-em-up, take over the world Frankenstein monster motif. Joanne was one of the first to really push what is now called human-centered robotics– that there is always a human involved in any robot system.

Since she knew Asimov, she was in a good position to discuss Dr. Susan Calvin- possible the worst stereotype of a woman roboticist ever- no family, no friends, totally obsessed by work. You definitely should hear her discussion- I don’t want to spoil it by trying to paraphrase it. I don’t know if Alec Nevala-Lee, the author of Astounding:John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction- a terrific book, you should read it, would agree but it definitely adds a new dimension to understanding- and enjoying- Asimov’s robot stories.

I also moderated the 100 Years of R.U.R. panel with Joanne and Jeremy Brett for the 2021 We Robot conference. Her talk and comments were brilliant. While I had always heard that “robot” came from the Czech word “robota”, she pointed out that “robota” stems from the Greek work “orphanos” which means a change in status (like being orphaned) – where the “o” and “r” are switched in Slavic languages. So the roots in R.U.R. aren’t just drudgery, it is that being a robot is also a lower status. Both words convey exactly what Capek was trying to express about the dehumanization of workers. What an interesting detail!

That sums up Joanne: smart, seeing things that others missed, warm, positive, enthusiastic, engaging, wanting everyone to know more, do more, have a better life through robotics.

Joanne, I miss you.

And if you never met her, please check out her interview:




Robin Murphy is a Raytheon Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University and Vice-President of the not-for-profit Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue
Robin Murphy is a Raytheon Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University and Vice-President of the not-for-profit Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue





Related posts :



Robot Talk Episode 90 – Robotically Augmented People

In this special live recording at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Claire chatted to Milia Helena Hasbani, Benjamin Metcalfe, and Dani Clode about robotic prosthetics and human augmentation.
21 June 2024, by

Robot Talk Episode 89 – Simone Schuerle

In the latest episode of the Robot Talk podcast, Claire chatted to Simone Schuerle from ETH Zürich all about microrobots, medicine and science.
14 June 2024, by

Robot Talk Episode 88 – Lord Ara Darzi

In the latest episode of the Robot Talk podcast, Claire chatted to Lord Ara Darzi from Imperial College London all about robotic surgery - past, present and future.
07 June 2024, by

Robot Talk Episode 87 – Isabelle Ormerod

In the latest episode of the Robot Talk podcast, Claire chatted to Isabelle Ormerod from the University of Bristol all about human-centred design and women in robotics.
31 May 2024, by

Robot Talk Episode 86 – Mario Di Castro

In the latest episode of the Robot Talk podcast, Claire chatted to Mario Di Castro from CERN all about robotic inspection and maintenance in hazardous environments.
24 May 2024, by

Congratulations to the #ICRA2024 best paper winners

The winners and finalists in the different categories have been announced.
20 May 2024, by





Robohub is supported by:




Would you like to learn how to tell impactful stories about your robot or AI system?


scicomm
training the next generation of science communicators in robotics & AI


©2024 - Association for the Understanding of Artificial Intelligence


 












©2021 - ROBOTS Association