I have read an interesting article made by Pinoy Linux luminary Jun Auza about the current trend of Linux powered robotics. I must say that I am really excited about this because its all happening now. What's next then?
I must say that the next step would be the "humanization" of these machines.
As a matter of fact, this "humanization" is already taking place. It's scary, exciting and most important of all - thought provoking.
Forgive me, if I will digress from the topic Linux Robotics since I would prefer to focus on Robotics in General. I would explain later why.
When I watched the movie "A.I." starring Haley Joel Osment of Sixth Sense fame about a robot boy striving to find his place in the universe of organic sentience and "humanized" mechanisms, I thought to myself - that's NOT going to happen in my lifetime.
Come on! A male gigolo robot that plays romantic music while having sex?
But apparently a company named A.I. Robotics, specializing in robotics (duh) already have a final prototype of a "Perfect Woman". Finally your very own Stepford Wife. It already happened.
So, wow, if you have a gajillion bucks somewhere lying around, you could have your very own "perfect woman" robot and uh, well. Dot dot dot. Play the Spice Girls' song "Two Become One"?
Don't worry girls, a male version is coming soon...
The aim for perfection would be the immediate step after creation. You could carve it in a rock and would see that more "perfect men and women" would be created. How do I put this? It's a universal urge...
Perfection can never be attained, since perfection belongs in Plato's World of Ideas. However, this endeavor for perfection, at the very least, could reach a certain "acceptable mark". When every avenue has been exhausted, and every modification tested, graded and approved then that is the time when the market would say, "Ah, its perfect."
To the consumer, the operating system is merely a component, albeit a crucial one. The most salient features would always be form and utility. They are after all created for a purpose. Any operating system, as long as "it works" would suffice. Unless of course you are RMS and would prefer that every component of his perfect woman would be entirely "free".
You'd bring out your screw driver open up the housing the CPU of the robot, plug in the usb cable and mount the perfect woman, uh, I mean mount the interfacing device on the corresponding port, go to the root directory and remove all proprietary components of the system and afterwards upgrade the kernel to the latest version...
No. I didn't think so.
You'd still need to buy a Trojan though. Never know what's inside there...
Well, like the economic recession which nobody in authority foresaw enough to be able to avert, the future of robotic development is a frontier with many wild lands still to be explored.
Linux as a system is a contender and is widely known for its flexibility as the platform for numerous devices.
What I am really after is the "perfection" part. With humanity's insatiable quest to create perfection - to create both artificial and natural "life" in his likeness where are these all leading to?
It could be a Pandora's box as expounded by doomsday talkers:
Or it could be paradise:
I however, believe that in the near future there will be a realization that by design, robotics is flawed. No matter the level of perfection, it will always be flawed as are all things created by man.
Sure they are good for several things like augmenting and even replacing human appendages. But much engineering problems remain: particularly that of power storage. It is true that fuel cell mechanisms are improving both output and storage - but what about refuelling? Outside of human intervention they would not be able to refuel or recharge themselves without the appropriate logistic support. Much of which is very human dependent.
Whereas nature by design actually thrives without human intervention and existence.
A few hours ago, I watched as a group of about 100 to 200 ants carried a cockroach along the side of a wall, upwards to the second story of our house. Imagine, miniscule organisms that have low fuel consumption but have enough energy that is enough for a single unit to power itself to carry loads that are more than twice its size.
Ants are self replicating and can survive in many different kinds of environments. They do not rust, do not require spare parts, and have an amazing guidance system. They know where my cup of coffee is. They know that they need sugar. They know exactly where to find it. They do not need any external logistic support.
The perfect system and design has already existed. It is called nature.