Tuesday, 21 September 2004

Aye, Robot

Heard about biomimetics? That's what they're beginning to call the branch of robotics which develops robots inspired by animals. Is this another case of science following art? We recall one of the Asimov (who coined the term "robotics") robot stories dealing with something like this. Generations after Dr Susan Calvin, when the world had turned against humaniform robots, a robot - was it R Daneel Olivaw? - develops a new branch of robots based on insects. In the story, it was a tiny flying robot that pollinated flowers. Anyone remember the name of the story? Anyway, here's the The New York Times >NYT story on biometics. And, while we were checking our spellings of Olivaw, we found Greg Bear's must-read essay on Asimov, and the moral problems he presented us with via his robot stories and the Three Laws, their inherent contradictions, and the Zeroth Law.

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