The history of the science and the science fiction of robotics is less than a century old. In 2014 the vast bulk of the research and development into robotics has been to fill manufacturing functions with an incredible range of configurations, design geometry, and artificial intelligence, or A.I. The other area of interest is in the human companionship/help area. The Japanese have done some amazing work in this area with the star player being ASIMO, a one million dollar, plus, robot that can operate autonomously-performing at a very high level of sophistication.
Hot on the heels, as it were, are the so-called sexual robots that have the ultimate goal of filling the need for a primary relationship, providing sexual services that real women are unable or reluctant to perform, or that real men are reluctant to perform (or are unable) for that matter. The state-of-the art in 2014, however, is that this entire set of robotics and associated A.I. amount to little more than expensive masturbation devices to most people, while a very small minority, on the fringe of antisocial behaviors, or those who have a chronic fear of rejection , actually prefer to have fantasy relationships with these “love dolls”. Yet science fiction often has an uncanny prescience into the future. A recent episode of the television series “Almost Human” dealt with beautiful sexual androids that were designed specifically for pleasure. The story takes place in the future in the year 2048.
History and the future are interconnected in ways that are difficult to imagine and predictions are often overshadowed by new technological developments that were never predicted to happen in the first place. For instance, there is a major research effort going on right now to develop a Quantum Super-Computer. Ultimately, these extremely powerful computational systems will be miniaturized; initially they will be harnessed for weapon systems, but ultimately they could provide the brain of a sentient android. In other areas, Artificial Intelligence is being rapidly developed. In the future, A.I. won’t be machine code. In a multi-phasic quantum computer, A.I. will be something that no one has yet to imagine.
Materials science is also rapidly moving ahead in the guise of new light-yet high strength alloys that have “position memories” to them-meaning if they get deflected, they will revert back to their normal geometric configuration. DARPA, (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) has several parallel programs that will advance all of the areas which would be required to build an autonomous human-like android in the not too distant future. Even though the DARPA programs each have the goal of keeping our country from being surprised by an opposition technology developed by some foreign power, no one can ultimately predict what the development of these technologies will ultimately produce. The following are only a generalized sampling of what DARPA is working on today
The Microsystems Technology Office (MTO) supports DARPA’s mission of creating and preventing strategic surprise by investing in areas such as microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), electronics, computing, photonics and biotechnology. In recent years, the proliferation of commercial components and manufacturing processes has made advanced technologies accessible to all, leveling the playing field. In response, MTO is dedicated to leveraging, countering and transcending these commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) approaches. MTO aims to multiply the power of COTS by aggregating, adapting and integrating components into networks and systems for the benefit of the warfighter. MTO seeks methods for countering threats (both incidental and intentional) that arise from sustained advancements in cheap and readily available technologies. Lastly, MTO develops high-risk, high-reward technologies outside and beyond the scope of the commercial industry to secure the DoD’s technological superiority. By continuing to create revolutionary capabilities, MTO seeks to “un-level” the playing field. DSO develops and leverages neurophysiological sensors, neuro-imaging, cognitive science and molecular biology to provide support, protection and tactical advantage to warfighters who perform under the most challenging operational conditions. DSO is discovering and applying advances in neuroscience to improve warfighters’ resilience to stress, to increase the rate and quality of learning and training, defend against injury and enhance our warfighters' ability to exert influence. DSO’s advances in neuroscience are leading to better sensors and novel neuro-morphic system architectures in the fields of computing, robotics and information integration, providing solutions to challenging issues. By harnessing the capabilities of neuroscience and fusing them with cutting edge electronics and the social sciences, DSO is bringing a new level of efficiency and situational awareness to provide warfighters with reliable information, training and tools to execute their missions.3) Micro- and nanoelectromechanical systems (MEMS and NEMS) are employed in many Department of Defense (DOD) systems. These devices find use in compact accelerometers and gyroscopes for stability control and inertial navigation and in switches for optical communication and data routing. Incredibly, these devices still operate many of orders of magnitude away from their ultimate limits. Techniques to reduce or overcome thermal noise in MEMS/NEMS devices are critical for realizing their full potential. [/color] Optomechanical devices offer a novel, noncryogenic path toward sensing at the standard quantum limit (SQL). Ultimately, quantum (shot) noise limits the performance of many sensitive optical instruments including force sensors, trace gas detectors and laser gyroscopes. However, optomechanical devices can also control the quantum fluctuations of optical probes to reduce readout sensitivity below SQL, a technique known as squeezing. The ORCHID program will leverage recent successes within the field of cavity-optomechanics to broadly explore the application space while driving technological development toward smaller and more robust devices capable of deployment in the field. It is envisioned that such devices, once demonstrated by DARPA, will find broad application across DOD, particularly in the areas of force sensing and optical communication. DARPA is also funding research for life-like looking skin coverings to mask extremely sophisticated prosthetic devices for our returning veterans with amputations. Since most of these soldiers are men, the “skin” has hair and “muscle mass”. In the next decades, however, researchers see an unfortunate tendency for more women combat operators, which will necessitate the need to develop feminine looking skin coverings, with little or no body hair and less defined muscle mass. Some of these prosthetic devices actually hook into the nerves that originally drove the amputated organic limb. There is no secret that the driving force behind the research for portable very powerful batteries is the US Military through DARPA. One has to wonder what the state-of-the-art of portable battery systems will be in 50 years or…100 years.
One final thought: Brain waves are unique to each individual and can be received by an appropriately tuned receiver in close proximity. Imagine, if you will, that an empathic organism, even an artificial one, being able to interpret your brain waves. This most probably would not take the form of reading your mind, but of reading your emotional state, perhaps even your general desires. And…what would happen if the receiver could also send suggestions back to you, using your own brain wave patterns, amplifying your desires and emotions-even your needs? Might spending just a little time with a sentient being with these kinds of capabilities lead you down a path that might change your life forever?