Hail cyborgs! The line between robots and humans is blurring

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Sharon Gaudin from Computerworld writes about how the line between robots and humans is quickly blurring:

As robotics quickly advance, scientists say the lines between robots and humans is beginning to blur.

That means one day with robotic prosthetics that work seamlessly with a human’s muscles, with tiny robots that swim in our blood streams and fix medical problems and nano-scale robots implanted in our brains, we will become robotic humans.

As scary and sci-fi as that may sound, researchers say robotics will cure diseases, make amputees feel whole again and greatly extend our lives.

“It’s not a question of whether it’s fanciful,” said Daniel Wilson, author of the novel Robopocalypse and a robotics engineer with degrees in machine learning and robotics from Carnegie Mellon University. “Thinking of the nanorobots swimming in your blood cells is still pretty far out there, but there are much more concrete examples really in the works…. By utilizing technology, you’re able to improve your body beyond anything you could do in the past.”

Many, if not most people, will be wary of the idea of the melding of humans and robots, with images of Star Trek’s evil cyborgs running through their heads. The fictional characters — with both human and mechanical parts — have superhuman strengths but have lost their individualism.
Despite frightening images in the Star Trek movie series and Robocop, these actually are exciting times because the advances in robotics, said Victor Walker, a robotics research scientist at Idaho National Laboratory, an Idaho Falls, Idaho-based facility that focuses on energy and national defense research.

“We are currently in this revolution today,” Walker told Computerworld. “I think there’s potential there. We don’t want to replace humans. We want to enhance humans.”

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