NeonElf is currently certified at Apprentice level.

Name: Wayne Simmons
Member since: 2005-01-04 17:19:27
Last Login: 2006-01-26 17:39:40

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I'm a computer programmer by trade and an aspiring robotist. I haven't built anything but I'm trying to get around to building. I read the news here and follow consumer market robots with a child-like giddiness.

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What do you think: is a R/C car a robot? It moves, however I think many people would say it is not a robot. What then are the mars robot explorers other then glorified R/C cars with cameras, other attachments, and a longer range radio signal? Perhaps it's the recreation aspect? However, the robots competing in battle bots were for entertainment, as well as being remote controlled, but they qualify as robots (don't they?). So it is not the remote control aspect either. Maybe we should start at the other end of the spectrum.

A fully humanoid automated mechanical being would obviously be considered a robot (ie: C3P0 from Star Wars). Today industrial robots are most commonly the robotic arms that weld, rivet, and otherwise work on mass production assembly lines. That common definition is not what most roboticists think of when someone says robot. I think we can be safe in saying that robot must contain some kind of electrial components (yes mechanical ones might exist but I doubt they'd hit the level of robot-hood, more likely they are automaton). What else, must a computer contain to be a robot?

How about a large Dancing Santa , is that a Santa robot? I think sensors are another important component to robots. These dancing Santas wouldn't qualify because they merely have an on/off switch. Before you ask: NO! Dancing sunflowers don't count just because they perceive sound. Let's modify that definition to include sensors to perceive with AND some sort of complex processing of that input. That eliminates remote controlled robots.

But are those remote controlled robots really robots in the strictest sense? I don't believe so. I'd have to say they were remote controlled devices. And the debate continues……

Current definition of Robot: Moves, has electrical parts, has sensors and processes the input received from those sensors.

23 May 2005 (updated 24 May 2005 at 05:18 UTC) »

So, here's the deep thought of the day: How can we build a simple system that losses it's determancy and enters the realm of chaos? It seems to me that genetics is one of those systems. It appears simple, perhaps I don't understand it well enough to make the statement, but DNA is the map, chemicals and protiens control cellular growth and development. I dunno, I guess it's not that simple a system. What I mean is how do we build a system with simple RULES that creates complexity: the phenomenon know as "emergence." I'd like to create a sysem like that sometime.

I was reading something on molecular biology about how DNA creates protiens and the protiens can attach back to the DNA and inhibit the creation of other protiens. Got me thinking about self modifing systems.

.... hrm ... what's my point you're wondering. This is a journal I don't have a point.

Robot is such a broad term. I ponder the definition. The first definition in a dictionary states robots "sometimes resemble a human" although the second definition does not. The third entry actually refers to a type of person! I agree that it's hard to nail down but perhaps we should try and hack out some new terms.

I have a strong belief that robots must be capable of some kind of motion. A robotic assembly arm at a manufacturing plant, though it can not change it's origin, it is capable of swinging it's hand to and fro and arriving at some point specified. To me a "robot" that doesn't move is a computer, or if simple enough a sensor.

I submit for thought: SAR (Sound Activated Robot)*. At first I thought this didn't qualify as a robot, but when I looked up the definition, I realized it is so lax that it technically does. But then by that definition so could a computer. This lead me to question the difference between a computer and robot.

We all know what computers are (I hope) although the lines are blurring there as well. Computers, and PDAs (ex: palm pilot), cell phones with operating systems. But what's the difference between a computer that controls a factory machine (let's say a cookie making factory that has a computer controlled conveyor and stamping system), and a robot?

I guess this is an old discussion, much like what qualifies as life but there must be something more definitive people can agree on. More definitive than a definition that includes the word "sometimes", anyway.

I sincerely believe that mobility is at least one major point of defining a robot. I'll have to think some more on it to decide what else differentiates a robot from a computer.

- * Please Steven Frye don't be offended. I know that is probably the begining of a robot but I just use it as an example. No harm intended. I have to laugh anyway becuase it's more than I've ever made!


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