What are the advantages of creating a walking robot that is able to manoeuvre around the surface of the earth like human beings and other creatures that have legs?
Make a list of situations for which walking robots would be better suited than wheeled vehicles.
In films, on television and in books, robots are often portrayed as the enemies of humans. Why do you think science fiction writers depict robots as frightening? What qualities make robots scary to humans?
Robots – from miniature earthbound types to those launched into Earth’s orbit – can be used by our neighbors, the military, local police forces and our bosses to monitor every movement we make. In a free society that values privacy, there may be a need to put limits on the use of such surveillance-type robots. Take an inventory of the surveillance technology that is already available in your community and school. What rules do you think should be put into place for the acceptable use of each of these technologies?
Medical technologies that extend or enhance the quality of human life are becoming available at a pace that is faster than their ethical use can be debated, long before the rules that may govern their use can be enacted into law. Discuss some of the economic and sociological problems that might confront the next generation as these technologies become available. Consider possible solutions to each problem. Artificial limbs may soon be connected directly to the nervous system so that the brain can command them to walk, grasp, wave hello, or even write a novel.
Soon we may even be able to send commands to robots by mental telepathy. Will the next step be the creation of a robot brain that can think, learn, and make decisions without human control? Is this a good idea? What technological challenges stand in the way of this happening? Why do so many people think that this will never and should never happen?
It’s probably obvious why it would be better to use a robot than a human to perform certain functions – like diffusing a bomb, for instance, orfighting in a war. On the other hand, would you want a robot player on your favorite rugby team? A robot teacher in your classroom? A robot doctor? A robot parent? A robot best friend?
What qualities do humans have that you think could never be replaced by robots? Why?