Author Topic: What IS a robot?  (Read 19162 times)


  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 779
    • Mr. Wake
Reply #25 on: February 20, 2007, 11:59:50 PM
I work at a factory in Japan that makes car parts.  So there is a room full of actual, no-foolin, robots about 200 feet from me right now.  Industrially speaking, "robot" is a very specific term, as the ISO definition indicates.  The big arm that moves around a part and spot welds it is a called a "robot".  It would be called a "robot" by a lawyer.  There is another machine that you put a block of steel in, and an electrically charged wire cuts the steel in a pre-programmed shape.  We do not call this thing a robot, even though it also gets its commands from a computer and does work for us.  It just has a different name.  For non-industry people, though, I think it would be a robot.

So, working from there we find in wikipedia that  "work" does not include the transference of "heat" energy since there is no macroscopically measurable force, only microscopic forces occurring in atomic collisions.

So as far as being a robot, the microwave oven is right out!
Many of the robots in my factory weld, which is not much different than cooking steel.

I think the West has largely given up on making humanoid robots, but the Japanese are still gangbusters.   They want to make robots to help the elderly.  These would be the robots that we've been dreaming about all these years.  Many of them can walk (to use stairs), get stuff from the fridge, respond to voice commands, navigate their environment, and recognize their owners.  Not only that, they need to be cute so that old people will want to use them (And Japanese people just love cute stuff). 

Toshiba has some stuff in the works.  Doesn't get much cuter than this.

Looks like Sony has disconinued the Aibo robot dog, though.  It was trained to follow a pink ball.  I read that one owner had a red wall that had faded to pink in the sun, and his Aibo would sit and stare at it all day.

Misc Japanese robots here.  Scroll down for the article on the "Uncanny Valley."   Then keep scrolling to the article called "Hello Sailor." ::)

These are some welding robots from the factory where I work.  After the above link, this may be dissapointing, but I couldn't resist.


  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 772
  • Fun will now commence.
Reply #26 on: March 16, 2007, 05:34:05 AM
The Encyclopedia Galactica defines a robot as a mechanical apparatus designed to do the work of a man
That works best for me. Microwave ovens aren't robots because humans can't cook stuff (unless you have heat vision or can combust spontaneously). Web bots are robots in the sense that a human could do the same work, but they'd take much longer and would get really bored.

Things like ROVs and Battlebots might more properly be called glorified waldos.
« Last Edit: March 16, 2007, 05:37:27 AM by Planish »

I feed The Pod.
("planish" rhymes with "vanish")


  • HP Lovecraft's 275,892nd biggest fan.
  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 191
Reply #27 on: March 21, 2007, 12:50:58 PM
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy defines the marketing division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation as "...a bunch of mindless jerks who  will be first against the wall when the revolution comes."

My imaginary omnipotent friend is more real that your imaginary omnipotent friend.

Russell Nash

  • Guest
Reply #28 on: March 21, 2007, 01:03:44 PM
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy defines the marketing division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation as "...a bunch of mindless jerks who  will be first against the wall when the revolution comes."

There are so many different groups destined to be the first against "The Wall" when the revolution begins. I think the revolution is going to end very quickly in a huge traffic jam on the way to "The Wall".


  • Peltast
  • ***
  • Posts: 107
    • Flying Whale Productions
Reply #29 on: March 21, 2007, 03:29:58 PM
Can I steal that line some day?


  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 680
Reply #30 on: March 21, 2007, 03:57:15 PM
What we really need is a secret new continent.  All those people who need to be sent to the wall can just stay and the rest of us can sneak off to "Emptyartica" and start anew with out them.

Life is a multiple choice test. Unfortunately, the answers are not provided.  You have to go and find them before picking the best one.

Russell Nash

  • Guest
Reply #31 on: March 21, 2007, 09:38:55 PM
Can I steal that line some day?

Huh? Are you talking about my line?? Feel free, if you are. Give credit, if you remember to.


  • High Priest of TCoRN
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1421
  • Praise N-sh, for it is right and good!
Reply #32 on: March 22, 2007, 11:08:10 AM
A bit of ear candy/input for this thread:

Talk of the Nation, March 21, 2007 ยท Science fiction and pop culture have conspired to make most of us think of robots as something out of Terminator or I, Robot.

But after six years of behind-the-scenes reporting from the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, Lee Gutkind knows better.

Gutkind, the founder and editor of the literary journal Creative Nonfiction, examines the subculture surrounding these mechanical creatures in a new book, Almost Human: Making Robots Think.

He found that today's robots are more fun than ferocious, and scientists are making wires and chips increasingly human-like.

Gutkind talks with Neal Conan about the sensitive side of robots

How do you fight a bully that can un-make history?