Not related to the recent panel discussions, but interesting nonetheless.
Recalling a previous post by Sugar Spice talking about the evolution and humanization of technology, I ran across this video and accompanying article on BBC (which I am too inept to be able to embed from a news site). The iCub robot is designed with the dimensions of a 3-year-old child, with the inherent knowledge and learning capacity to match. The robot starts off with basic motor skills and, through trial and error, ‘learns’ how to accomplish tasks without outside help. Apparently it’s even learning how to walk properly in the way a small child might. The robot was designed to be used continuously over the course of 5 years, to help psychologists understand how children learn basic skills. I find it interesting (and also really creepy, I might add) that we are manufacturing robots with human characteristics for the purpose of learning more about humans. The iCub is also a sort of open source robot as well. You can freely download the instructions for building your own online and can tailor-make its learning abilities and ‘personality’. We’re a lot closer to thinking robots than I thought….