Like flying cars, jet packs and hoverboards, the promise and hype of robotics usually falls far short of present-day deliverables. Three stories this week about robots range from the top of what could be to the “bottom” of what we have today.
I think it is likely in the next 200 years or so homo sapiens will upgrade themselves into some idea of a divine being, either through biological manipulation or genetic engineering of by the creation of cyborgs, part organic part non-organic.
Unfortunately, Harari also predicts that the cyborg technology will only be available to the super-wealthy and will result in the extinction of the poor and Silicon Valley becoming the center of a techno-religion ruled by these cyborgs. Yikes!
Moving to the “coming soon” realm, the journal Nature reports that French researchers have developed a small (20-inch) six-legged robot that can suffer two broken legs and quickly figure out how to continue operating with just four.
The robot uses a learning algorithm called Intelligent Trial and Error helps it determine the best way to adapt and continue on while damaged. They hope to eventually develop self-healing robots for dangerous missions in disaster areas.
At the “bottom” of this list is what’s available today in robotics. That would be a robotic derriere recently revealed by researchers at the University of Florida, Drexel University and the University of Wisconsin help medical students learn how to perform prostate exams.
This butt is no joke – it has four sensors to give instant feedback via a video character named Patrick to students on location and pressure of their probing fingers. Patrick is already in use and replacing actors who used to perform this function for students (there’s no amount of money …).
God-like cyborgs are many years away (thank God!?) and the self-healing robots are still in development, so the droid derriere moves from the rear to the front of today’s robot news.