Monday, June 8, 2009

Androids and The People Who Love Them

by Julia Buckley
If Ian Fleming or Isaac Asimov were alive today, I think they'd be fans of this website. It updates the world on all things robotic, including the latest in humanoid androids. (Click on "World's Greatest Android Projects")

My favorite is the New Asimo, who looks a bit like Neil Armstrong walking on the moon--except that on the website he is having breakfast with his--what's the term? Owner? Host? Fleshly companion?

Honda's new android can walk, run, hold your hand, even bring you drinks on a tray. He/She weighs about 119 pounds.

I wonder if the future will bring the sort of social isolation that will make us want to hold hands with our robots. And yet, despite my misgivings about what effect robots will have on the future (I Robot, anyone?), I must admit that if there were ever an affordable robot that would clean my house, I would wait in line overnight to get it. And someday when I'm suffering from empty nest syndrome, maybe Asimo and I can get in shape together.

Will my Asimo and I, assuming I ever have one, be walking down the street alone? Or if the day came when Androids were a common sight, would we all be seen with them, while they helped buy our groceries and threw us frizbees in the park? Then again, if the Androids could do all of our jobs, wouldn't that encourage people (at least people like me) to give in to their agoraphobic tendencies and stay inside their houses, playing virtual society on Facebook while the Android did the tedious task of actually socializing with others?

In any case, the World's Greatest Android Projects looks like a Science Fiction dream come true. And now that it's true, what will it mean?


Keith Raffel said...

Can the Asimo write fiction?

G.M. Malliet said...

Can it cook?

Julia Buckley said...

You think you're joking, but they say we are only fifty or so years from a supercomputer that is smarter than human beings. I assume that robots could tap into that huge brain.

It would be interesting to see if a "smart" computer could do creative things--like generate a story.

Johanna said...

I think it would be great if we could each have our own little robot "assistant"...multi-tasking takes on a new meaning! Afterall, I need at least two of me to get everything done!

Happened upon your blog and am enjoying it immensely!


Alan Orloff said...

"but they say we are only fifty or so years from a supercomputer that is smarter than human beings."

I'm pretty sure an iPhone is already smarter than me.

Julia Buckley said...

Glad to see you, Johanna! Let me know if you purchase the Asimo. :)

Alan, it's true--I wonder what they mean by smarter. They already seem that way in terms of technology.

Cricket McRae said...

I've been eyeing the roomba. They've been around for long enough now that this late adopter is thinking a robotic vacuum cleaner might actually work.

Julia Buckley said...

Let me know, Cricket. Anything to help with the dust bunnies without me having to devote my life to their elimination would be great.