The John von Neumann Computer Society (NJSZT) opened its exhibition entitled AI and Robots at 11 o’clock on Wednesday on the 7th of June. The finishing touches were being given to the exhibition on Saturday before the opening, when we received our first visitors; the legendary software developer and the first Hungarian space tourist Charles Simonyi and his brother, Tamás Simonyi. The Simonyi brothers viewed both our permanent exhibition on computer history and the temporary exhibition with great interest.
NJSZT’s managing director István Alföldi greeted the audience at the formal opening the next Wednesday. In his speech, he stressed NJSZT’s exemplary activities in the field of heritage protection; as a scientific organisation in the civil society sector, NJSZT undertook the task of creating a museum to present achievements in computer history.
The comprehensive permanent exhibition is regularly complemented with temporary exhibitions, and this time robotics is the next in this series. Thus robotics, which is a field connected to computer science in multitudes of ways, has eventually received the place it rightly deserves in a museum setting.
István Alföldi addressed some of his words to about five dozen students thereby saying that as they were the ones that would live their adult life in the world of artificial intelligence and robotics.
There are unmistakable signs that the field is undergoing exponential development; from artificial intelligence (AI) winning in competitions and GO games organised against human players to the robotic assisted surgery, Da Vinci, which helps surgeons in their work.
István Alföldi pointed it out, however, that artificial intelligence (AI) as such is not directly presented at the exhibition. The exhibits in the museum first of all present the antecedents to these revolutionary changes but they can be understood in the perspectives of the present and the future. It is worth the time to examine the objects on display and read the information panels, which were designed along with the visual world of the exhibition by Ferenc Forrai, graphic designer.
Gábor Képes, the curator of the exhibition, delivered a guided tour of the exhibition on the opening day. He first of all highlighted the work of creative-minded people who engaged in building robots at robotics competitions or in NJSZT’s robotics department.
He compared their activities to the hobbyist movement builders of the first home computers launched in the heroic age; they also realized that there was a need for robotics and their innovative solutions were reflected on in the manufacture of robots later on.
The exhibition AI and Robots alongside the information panels first of all present the history and themes of robotics. Only a minority of the exhibits on display were manufactured in the industry, the majority of exhibits are robots developed by individuals. Such as Zoltán Abonyi’s drone created as his diploma work; the line tracking robot of the University of Szeged, for which Zsolt Rabi created a line tracking application; Balázs Pécskai’s human-sized robots; relics from robotics competitions and the football forward robot created by Dr. Ágnes Balogh and her students; robots created for the competition Magyarok a Marson [Hungarians on Mars] by Péter Kopiás and his team; robot cars built by students in the RobonAUT contest announced by the Budapest University of Technology and Economics; the robotic arm and other robots built by Sándor Juhos. All these objects demonstrate that it is a worthwhile idea to learn and do robotics!
As a point of interest, Gábor Képes shared with the audience that even 55 years ago, visitors in the Pioneers’ House in Szeged were welcomed by a Robot Man: the replica of the two-metre tall tin man is presented at the exhibition thanks to the Hungarian Museum of Science, Technology and Transport.
Exhibition curator Gábor Képes introduced to students Dr. Dániel Muszka, a living legend in cybernetics, by saying the following: "Be proud to be in the presence of the original creator of the Robot Man of Szeged.”
As the conclusion of the exhibition opening, Dániel Muszka shared some memories and impressions from the initial stage of robotics in Hungary.
The exhibition AI and Robots can be viewed until the end of September.
It is an enthralling experience for every-one to see the antecedents to robotics that is going to shape our world.