Tuesday, February 3, 2009

robot anatomy 220

not to make everything about anatomy, but a quick mention that it's pretty awesome. yesterday we were studying the leg and we got to look at this HUGE specimen of a leg. pretty rad stuff. handling it was tricky business, though, and i needed the assistance of the girl across the table just to turn it over. very exciting.

anyway, so this leg got me to thinking about robots. every time i see muscle structures i find my mind wanders to far away images of threepio and his gears and pulleys, as well as other robots. the same way our muscles pull various points to create movement of the body, various hydraulic pumps and pressure tubes keep the same sort of duties. of course, they have the upper hand in being able to both pull and push (where as our muscles can only pull--that's whey they need opposing muscles). however, they don't have the biological structure that can repair itself and improve with use. i guess you just have to decide which is better. having muscles that are more easily damaged or strained, bearing in mind that they can (usually) repair themselves; or having techno-muscles that only weaken with use and must be externally repaired, but are generally much more versatile and powerful (not to mention, after a few missions, you can upgrade with future-aged money).

of course, the skeleton on the other hand is of a more insect-like nature. while inner structures surely help in supporting the internal parts and wiring, the casing which contains it all is surely reminiscent of an locust's exoskeleton. just think, if i crush your leg in a compressor (horizontally), you're body is designed to be able to take some of the pressure in your softer tissues before your bone structure is damaged. painful, yes--but you could still limp home. on the other hand, a robot's leg (or limb otherwise), if crushed even a bit, causes immediate damage to his casing and thus his support structure. walking home would be no treat where every step further damaged your vertical support as it crinkled under your weight. following this same example, though, if your meaty leg was so thoroughly compressed that the bone was broken or otherwise damaged, to correct the damage takes a)a hefty load of time and babying, and possibly b)operations where the external tissue must be somehow bypassed to correct the injury. meanwhile, robo-friend catches a cab, gets his leg casing replaced, and is running marathons within hours--if he was already planning on them. otherwise, he would still probably want to just rest.

the closest thing to vital organs that a droid has is circuit boards and batteries, and those are more like an rc car than anything else. we wouldn't want wires frying our systems nor would robots want wet, fleshy organs flopping around causing problems. no need to compare apples and oranges here.

sensory organs are one where you win some, you lose some. we have eyes that allow us to process great amounts of information, ears that hear things nearby. robots have "eyes" that can pinpoint and analyze moles on individuals in distant cities and "ears" that can hear a pin drop in a pin-making factory. one point robots. likewise, if we lose sight or hearing, good luck replacing them. robots? one trip to the shop. two points robots. lucky us, though, robots stop there. touch? sure, they can tell you the temperature in the room in kelvin without a pencil and paper, but they can't delight in shag carpet. that's what the the sense of touch is all about. one point humans. next, robots will only eat to be polite (like when they're offered a bowl of tomato soup with some toast), and by "eat" i mean dispose of via their self-contained mini blast chambers. when they can enjoy marshmallow cereal like i can, maybe i'll reconsider this one. two points humans. the last sense to consider is smell. this is a draw because, no, robots can't really smell anything. however, how often do we with we couldn't either? that makes a two point draw between robots and humans on this one. we're all winners (unless you include cyborgs, then most of us are losers).

it's important, as we remember these points, that the miracle of life is something that provides us with those things we've needed and utilized for our survival for thousands of years. those same ones we used to create robots. things that robots will never have.

remember also, we created robots via the miracle of electronics and provided all of them with the things they need to one day rule over us.

it's the circle of digi-life.

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