Generation Robot author inspired by her father

Electrician built robots in his basement and backyard in the 1960s

Robots have been a part of Terri Favro’s life since she was a child.

Favro, the author of Generation Robot: A Century of Science Fiction, Fact, and Speculation, recently visited the S. Walter Stewart Library in East York to talk about her fascination with technology. It all started, she said, with her father, an electrician at an auto parts factory in St. Catharines.

In the late 1960s, a robot was introduced at his workplace and Favro’s father was given the responsibility of handling it. He fell in love with the idea of robots, and started building robots in his home’s backyard and basement.

“I wanted to write about that experience about growing up with this man who was so fixated on robots,” Favro said.

She wrote a short essay, but then realized there was a bigger perspective and her father’s experience was just the starting point for her book-writing career.

Terri Favro and her new book Generation Robot: A Century of Science Fiction, Fact, and Speculation(Tiffany Fung)

Favro, who describes herself as a “digital immigrant,” said she enjoys writing about robots.

“The word immigrant means we are newcomers to technologies, struggling to adapt to the alien world,” she explained.

In the 1980s, Favro became a copywriter for IBM during the time when personal computers were first introduced. While working there, she witnessed the disruption caused by the start of desktop computing and desktop publishing.

Comparing the 1980s to now, Favro said she sees “a real parallel in what is happening right now.” She describes humans as the legs and arms of robots because humans are so dependent on technology now.

About her decision to write about robots, Favro said, “I wanted to skip forward in time speculatively to see how we would live with robots in the near future.”