Rise of the Robots; December 1999; Scientific American Magazine; by Moravec; 8 Page(s)
In recent years the mushrooming power, functionality and ubiquity of computers and the Internet have outstripped early forecasts about technology's rate of advancement and usefulness in everyday life. Alert pundits now foresee a world saturated with powerful computer chips, which will increasingly insinuate themselves into our gadgets, dwellings, apparel and even our bodies.
Yet a closely related goal has remained stubbornly elusive. In stark contrast to the largely unanticipated explosion of computers into the mainstream, the entire endeavor of robotics has failed rather completely to live up to the predictions of the 1950s. In those days, experts who were dazzled by the seemingly miraculous calculational ability of computers thought that if only the right software were written, computers could become the artificial brains of sophisticated autonomous robots. Within a decade or two, they believed, such robots would be cleaning our floors, mowing our lawns and, in general, eliminating drudgery from our lives.