Robots: The good, the bad and the ugly

Do they help or do they hinder, and where are the worlds of robotics and artificial intelligence headed?

Clearly, the use of computer-based intelligence to work alongside humans is not all bad, despite what sensationalism may have us believe.

A recent Japanese invention the robot suit or hybrid assistive limb (HAL) showcased this perfectly, according to Sharkey.

To the untrained eye, this robotic suit the human becomes part of the robot looks not dissimilar to the armoury sported by Star Wars' Storm Troopers. To those in the know, and in need, it is so much more than just quirky attire.

"Perhaps the most beneficial use of robot technology that I have seen is in the area of helping the disabled to walk. The first exoskeleton suit made by Cyberdyne is already in use to assist the elderly to walk upright in Japan," Sharkey said.

To see the HAL robot suit in action, check out the video below.

Fact or fiction?

We've been talking about robotics and AI for years. Most people will remember the Terminator series where the cyborg (a robot in sheep's well, in this case a human's clothing) was bad and then became good. And what about tearjerker Artificial Intelligence about the little 'boy' David who was real but not real?

At present, we are treading a fine line between fiction and fact. But we have to in order to advance. Our scientists are doing a great job of using technology to evolve the use of robotics and AI in a multitude of scenarios and, for the most part, they're getting it right.

Granted, it is highly likely that in developing these all-seeing, all-knowing beasts they may just create a monster that turns against us. But isn't that the case with everything in life? Look at all the things we've had to eat or touch to learn from trial, error and pain which ones are safe and which are not. That's life.

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