The Dexterous, the Amazing, Robonaut!

Image Courtesy NASA

It's kind of like watching a baby take its first steps.

This past Thursday, Robonaut (technically, Robonaut 2)- the General Motors-NASA sponsored robot aboard the International Space Station, posted a video to its Facebook page demonstrating its ability to operate a task board.  I was filled with a sense of wonder while I watched the robot flip a switch and press buttons in a specific order.  Although many people I know are afraid of what a robotic future might mean, I'm hopeful for one in which humans walk side by side down the street with our inorganic progeny.

Artificially intelligent robots could power a future in which the tireless, cheap labor they provide could make life a whole lot more affordable for us all.  They could serve as aids to the elderly and infirm, they could do the jobs too dangerous or too undesirable for humans. The possibilities are endless, and I think if done right, most of them can be beneficial for us all.

Part of Robonaut's purpose is to conduct repairs on the outside of the International Space Station, but looking at the number of attachments for Robonaut's lower half (including treads for extra-terrestrial planet exploration), it looks like there could be a lot more in store for the hard working robot.

Watch the video and see Robonaut in action for yourself below!

(Video Courtesy YouTube & NASA)


  1. I love things like this. Of course, my mind is already off considering the rights of these creations and how to prevent their exploitation further down the road. As they become more sophisticated in their functions, will they begin to develop a type of sentience? If so, aren't we, as moral beings, responsible for safe-guarding their rights and oughtn't we to do it now rather than later? Just a thought. Lovely, Michael, and thanks for the tea!

  2. I've thought about this a lot from both a writer's point of view and in a more general philosophical sense.
    In determining the rights of sentient, non-biological beings we should keep in mind that what we consider to be rights for people are in some ways based on our physiology. We need food, we need sleep, so we get lunch breaks, time to go home and sleep, etc.

    Machine physiology would not need these things. What we might consider abuse for a fellow biological would be no big deal to a machine. There's also no guarantee that our mechanical offspring will share our opinions on what is moral, and what isn't. They might consider "deleting" a disabled human no different than deleting defective code. We're going to have to keep things like this in mind as we move forward.

    I think the age of AI is on the near horizon and I just hope we don't overreact one way or another in regards to what rights they should have once it comes time to share the workplace and home with our digital children.


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