The advance of robotics heralds an increasingly porous boundary between machines and people, with scientists such as Idaho National Laboratory's Victor Walker emphasizing the goal of this revolution is the enhancement of human beings, rather than the replacement.
"The line between robots and people will be blurred with smart prosthetics and implanted components," predicts Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Russ Tedrake. "It won't be robots and people but robot people." Tedrake says the underlying idea is to combine the best of organic and mechanical systems so their advantages outweigh their limitations. He imagines robots will play a significant role in augmenting or replacing bodily parts.
Analysts think the medical industry and the military will largely drive advances in human robotics through their respective innovations in robotic prosthetics and exoskeletons. Worcester Polytechnic Institute professor Dmitry Berenson anticipates a gradual advance of robotic technology, which will help humans adjust to the change. "With technology, it's not good or bad," he says. "It just comes as a package and we as a society have to decide what we're going to do with it. It's really up to us."
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