My fascination with androids, and their increasingly fast development, never ends. Along with the fascination however, lies a degree of creepiness and uncertainty about what the future might hold for them, and more importantly, us.
It may just be because I’ve watched The Terminator a few too many times, but there’s no doubt that I do share an element of fear that one day these humanoids could in fact replace us – not entirely, but indeed dramatically.
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I haven’t a particular fear of them harming us physically, as I’m sure they’ll have built in software protection of some sort (won’t they?)- its more the economic implications that concern me. Yep, J O B’s.
It’s also the potential for where these androids are likely to see most uptake. I hesitate to say it, but the sex industry is the first to come to mind. As with most new technology, if there’s any way it can be put to use by pornographers and sex toy manufacturers…it will be…and that creeps me out.
Lets not degrade what these prolific scientists, majority Japanese, are doing however. Aside from the sex industry and monotonous service based tasks, it is believed that android’s have the most potential in the field of space exploration. “Since androids don’t need to breathe and are not bothered by the cold of outer space, they are the perfect workers for building spaceships and facilities on the Moon, Mars, and in orbit around the Earth and elsewhere in space.” say CR Willis of AndroidWorld
In 2055 it is predicted that “Androids will be doing all the cooking, cleaning and order taking in most restaurants. In construction sites, androids will be pouring the concrete, laying brick, and building the home’s frame. At hospitals robots will be flying the planes, selling the tickets, moving the luggage and handle security as well as keeping the airport clean. They will be doing all the stocking in stores. On the roads robots will be driving the cars, trucks for companies like FedEx, UPS and at the post office large numbers of robots will sorting packages and making deliveries.”
Anyhow, I really have gone into far too much detail above considering what I really wanted to do is share a couple of interesting videos that highlight developments in the field. They are unquestionably impressive but needless to say, unsettling.
The Sexy Android
First, is a recording from 2006, of an encounter between psychologist Dr. Robert Epstein and Repliee Q1, an android. Dr Epstein is creator and former director of the annual Loebner Prize Competition in Artificial Intelligence. He published an article in the Scientific American Mind about the encounter in June/July 2006 issue, entitled “My Date with a Robot” (which can be downloaded here).
Simroid. A Dentral Patient Robot
Simroid is a new robot from Japan designed to help train dentists. Simroid is a dental patient robot developed as a training tool for aspiring dentists. It can follow spoken instructions, closely monitor a dentist’s performance during mock treatments, and react in a human-like way to pain.
BigDog, “The Most Advanced Quadruped Robot on Earth”.
Finally we have BigDog, a quadruped robot that walks, runs, and climbs on rough terrain and carries heavy loads. BigDog is powered by a gasoline engine that drives a hydraulic actuation system. BigDog’s legs are articulated like an animal’s, and have compliant elements that absorb shock and recycle energy from one step to the next. BigDog is the size of a large dog or small mule, measuring 1 meter long, 0.7 meters tall and 75 kg weight.
BigDog is being developed by Boston Dynamics with the goal of creating robots that have rough-terrain mobility that can take them anywhere on Earth that people and animals can go. The program is funded by the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA).