from the mind-children dept.
A cover story in a recent issue of U.S. News and World Report ("The Age of Robots", by Thomas Hayden, 23 April 2001) takes a look at research and development work on humanoid robots, artificial intelligence, and what they might mean for the future.
As the article concludes, "it seems clear that big changes are coming, and while humans — the flesh and blood type — usually manage to adapt to technological change, the period of adjustment can sometimes get pretty uncomfortable. As with any new technology, there will certainly be some unintended, and quite possibly unpleasant, consequences as robots begin to play a regular role in our day-to-day lives, USC's Mataric [Maja Mataric, a computer scientist and roboticist at the University of Southern California] notes. But she's confident that the potential benefits outweigh the risks. "I hope society is strong and wise enough to stop abuses without stopping science," she says, "but I think all of that is still a long way off." Before anyone has to start really worrying about our place in the future, the techies have a heck of a lot more work to do."