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!