Mechanized Assistants Are Becoming More Lifelike

May 2, 2001 | Source: Interactive Week

Robotics are no longer just the stuff of science fiction. From robotic pets to assembly lines and hospitals, humanoid machines are gradually infiltrating everyday life.

A multifunction android capable of almost substituting for a general-purpose waiter is likely five to 10 years away and a food delivery robot for fast-food restaurants could be a reality very soon.

One of the first humanoids on the market will be Honda’s Asimo, a child-sized android that can walk, climb stairs and negotiate corners. It can turn out the lights and do other small tasks.

Ray Kurzweil, a pioneer in the field of artificial intelligence, sees a future in which humans and robots are so alike it’s difficult to tell them apart. Within 20 years, he says, computers will not just be intelligent, they will be conscious, feeling beings deserving of the same rights, privileges and consideration people give each other.