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Flesh and Steel

The human body is an unfathomably beautiful creation, and no, we’re not talking about supermodels or Natalie Portman (those are freaks of nature). We’re talking about the flesh and blood machinery of which we’re all so miraculously constructed. Open up an anatomy textbook, or watch one of the many “wonders of the human body” shows on educational cable, and you can’t help but be awestruck by our impressive design. Going on such a fantastic voyage, two things are immediately apparent: The human body is elegantly and deeply complex, and it is also extremely fragile. There are literally millions of things that could go wrong at any given moment, but luckily for billions of us, don’t. The body has evolved an impressive host of checks and balances and backup systems.

When looking at the human body with an eye toward robots, once again, our old friend, the “fantasy versus reality” dichotomy rears its ugly mug. We can’t help but compare the machinery of a robot to our own “machinery” and find the robot’s sorely lacking. But the human body has had millions of years to tinker with its hardware and software, while robot anatomy is measured in a few short decades. At the rate technology develops, though, imagine where robots will be in 50, 100, or even 1,000 years.


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