Are Humanoid Robots really the answer?

With all the hype surrounding Honda's Asimo, and Toyota's recent violin virtuoso robots, it really makes you think: Why are we modeling robots after ourselves? Is it that the human form is so incredibly efficient? powerful? dexterous? I can think of other creatures better equipped in each of those areas, and I'm sure there are many more categories which I haven't thought of, which humans are also not the top of the class.

It seems the only area in which we've enhanced the robots ability above and beyond what humans are capable of is mental capacity computing power has increased by several orders of magnitude since it's inception, and continues to do so with no signs of slowing, but that doesn't really address the issue of physical form. I've been thinking about it for a few days, and about how roboticists could (and probably should) take bits and pieces of the animal kingdom in order to piece together the most productive all-purpose robots.

That's all well and good, but once my business mind kicked in everything became clear. People identify with the human form. In order to pitch such powerful, and potentially frightening, robots to the general public, they'd have to make them seem safe... familiar. What better way is there to make a heap of toxic chemicals, silicon, and metal seem familiar than to mold it into the shape of a fellow human being? I think we're onto something.

Furthermore, now that it looks like a human, we should make it move like a human, and sound like a human. Then it will truly appeal to the sub-conscious of potential robot consumers. It will also make them much more willing to let these 'devices' into their everyday lives, ready for human interaction, as they say.

Whether or not this is a good thing is up for debate, and it's not my intention to get involved in that, but regardless of your political stance on the issue, it's incredibly intriguing. I personally don't believe robots will ever suddenly become defiant, but the possibility of a robotic virus/worm/etc, created by a malicious individual is frightening. This time, unlike the computer days, the ramifications of bugs/malicious code could lead directly to injury or loss of flesh and blood, human life. Scary.

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