One Singularity Sensation: Humanoid Robots

Republibot 4.0
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Creating robots that are as close to being human as possible is the current Holy Grail of robotics engineers.

Fantasies of sexbots aside, I'm not exactly sure why androids are so hot--I mean, most of the prototypes I've seen not only cross into the Uncanny Valley, but clear land and build a development. For example, the replicant of author Philip K. Dick, seen here:

But the ghost of good ol' Phil looks like a mannequin compared to this entry from Japan, where the field of robotics is lightyears ahead, thanks in large part to manga and anime characters like Astro Boy and the Transformers.

Walt Disney had animatronic actors back when he first opened his iconic theme parks, so I'm not really sure what use there is in trying to create robotic thespians, especially in an era when you can summon up just about anyone or anything with CGI. But a company in Cornwall, England, is currently developing robots with "realistic" gestures and semi-human features projected inside their plastic faces.

And, in case humanoid assistants aren't your cup of tea, you might someday be able to adopt a robot that looks like a cross bewteen a Furbee and Gizmo, from the movie "Gremlins" (just don't get it wet!)

I guess in the future, humanoid robots will take over a lot of the undesirable drudge-work jobs currently held by robotic humans. Oh, joy--imagine going to the DMV and getting to try to communicate with an actual robot who gives even less of a crap about why your car registration is five months overdue!

Robots are, of course, already with us in many capacities, and robots have been part of our mythology since the early days, when good old proto-engineer Daedalus built a mechanical bronze guardian for King Minos of Crete. A comprehensive listing of all the robots in fiction and entertainment would blow your mind.

I know a lot of people are eagerly anticipating "The Singularity" when robot brains become so much smarter than human beings' brains that the future will be impossible to predict, but you know, I'm not sure it's really so wise to try to make our servants smarter than we are. They may decide they don't need us anymore, and stop believing in us, write philosophical tracts about how "Humanity Is Dead," then pass laws regarding the seperation of flesh and solid state.

I...I think I'm going to go hug my dog, now. And take the batteries out of my pocket calculator.