How Growing Up in Oklahoma Got Daniel Wilson Excited About Robots

Former roboticist Daniel Wilson made a huge splash several years ago with his non fiction book How to Survive a Robot Uprising, and then set his optical implants on writing fiction. His debut novel Robopocalypse was a huge bestseller, and is set to become a Steven Spielberg flick. And now he's got a new novel out, Amped, about people in the near future who get cybernetic implants — and possibly become a new kind of human.

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We asked Wilson what it was that first got him interested in robotics. Here's what he had to say. In this video, he talks about his early inspiration as a kid growing up in rural Oklahoma. Living in the Bible Belt, he said, he discovered that science was the only thing that made sense to him. Plus, robotics are just cool. "I don't know why everybody doesn't become a roboticist," he said.

What Was It is a series of short interviews co-hosted on io9 and Gizmodo that asks the luminaries of science and science fiction what inspired them to delve so deeply into the only kind of magic we have in the real world — science and technology. What was it that first opened their eyes? Find out more at What Was It?

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DISCUSSION

Corpore Metal

"I don't know why everybody doesn't become a roboticist."

Lack of extensive and deep education, lack of training and accreditation to justify research grants, lack of research grants.

Really it would be a wonderful world if we could all be paid to be conduct scientific research. It would be a wonderful world if we all that the mental fortitude to do the very intensive and rigorous, back breaking mental ditch digging that science absolutely requires. It's not just creativity. It's years and years of bashing away at questions, mostly fruitlessly until serendip or blind fortune or a huge creative flash favors you. Science is the hardest kind of mental labor there is.

If we could all be paid for that and actually had the motivation and talent for it, it would be a wonderful world. But alas it is not true.

I say this bitterly as an ex-physics major who was really far too much of a fart about to really pull it off and make it into graduate school. It's hard to get into science for a reason.