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[DPRG] Robots in te news

Subject: [DPRG] Robots in te news
From: David P. Anderson dpa at io.isem.smu.edu
Date: Fri Nov 2 16:08:41 CST 2001

Greetings Earthlings,

Mike writes:

> > One is not intrinsically harder or easier than the other.
> Now you're talking my language.

Anything that Hominds begin doing in earnest gets really complex fast.
Look at professional sports.  

> > When most people hear the word they think of R2D2 and C3P0, or "Danger! Will
> > Robinson!"  These are not real robots but very fancy remote controlled
> > puppets.  That's why they seems so "human-like."  They are humans.  Same with
> > robot wars.  Even our vision of what a future robot might be is colored by puppetry.
> Er, these are all examples of actors in unusual makeup, not devices at
> all. R2D2 was an actor in a strange little costume. I saw an interview
> with him once. Likewise C3P0 (Or is it C3PO?) was an actor in an
> outfit. As was the "robot" in "Lost in Space".

My point exactly.  Our expectations of what a "robot" is, or will be, have been
set by humans in robot suits.  Add Oz's Tin Woodsman to the list.

> > I'd personally reserve the word "robot" for autonomous devices.  
> Ok, so the thermostat/central heat in my house is a robot.

Ah, the old "is my thermostat a robot?" conundrum.  Careful!  This discussion
runs a real risk of pulling Franklin Wayne Poley and Robot For President
out of the woodwork!  We've been down that blind alley before!  More than once!

> I'd say that they are all robots, but different kinds of robots. I'd say
> that some kinds of elevators are robots.

Is is useful to have a definition so broad?  Why stop at elevators?  How
about ATMs, comunication satellites, vending machines, those motion
detectors that open the door at the grocery store?  

I have an uncle who is a linguist who told me once that words mean what
people think they mean.  I don't think most people think that "robot"
means "intelligent interactive elevator," even if it fits the definition.
And I think most have a good feel for the distinction between "autonomous"
and "remotely piloted."


Anybody know a good way to mount a single surface mount part by hand?  Besides
with a toaster oven?   The leads that Ed K. soldered on for me are coming off. 
Practical robotics...


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