Robotics

Science-fiction dreams are becoming a reality

Social robot avatar technology will make long-distance communication less alienating, and help us push towards having robots like C-3PO becoming  part of our everyday lives, maintains Dr Paul Bremner

How fearful should we be about the rise of the robots?

The Foundation for Responsible Robotics this week warned us that we are rushing into a potentially perilous future of autonomous weapons and automated household helpers. Jamie Nimmo asks if the new world will really be so dystopian

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Books of the year 2013: Children

The Book of Bedtime Stories (Walker, £14.99) consists of 10 original tales selected by Michael Rosen from more than 400 entries for last year's Mumsnet and Gransnet children's story competition. Each illustrated by an up-and-coming artist, themes range from the adventures of a pig-riding sheriff to the exciting rescue of a dancing bear. Beautifully produced, this could be a collector's item. Alex T. Smith's Claude in the Spotlight (Hodder, £4.99 paperback) tells how the amiable dog of the title, accompanied by his regular friend Sir Bobblysock, gets caught up in a theatrical performance that nearly goes terribly wrong. Illustrated on every page by the author, this cheerfully eccentric story is highly entertaining. So too is Bernardo Atxaga's The Adventures of Shola (Pushkin Children's Books, £14.99). Translated from the Basque by Margaret Jull Costa and lavishly illustrated by Mikel Valverde, these gently ironic stories about another small dog whose aspirations regularly outrun her abilities are totally charming.