What happens when you make frank comparisons between humans and robots?

by phil on Saturday Dec 19, 2009 3:59 AM

Maybe it's because I gave Blade Runner a fresh look recently, but for some reason, I'm really digging these quotes that make frank comparisons between humans and robots.

From Air & Space interview:

We mean that something happened that no one predicted at the beginning of the Space Age. Our technological capabilities in some areas far outstripped our capabilities in other areas--we were able to build robots that are massively more sophisticated than what we dreamt of in the 1950s. Humans have not had a similar increase in capacity.


There's a flip side to it: If humans go, they'll need the endurance of machines. They're going to have to be able to resist radiation to the same degree that machines do.


Humans have great capability for problem solving and creativity. And when they're faced with something that's out of the ordinary, that they haven't trained for or plotted out in detail, they can often figure out a way to solve the problem.


On the other hand, humans are enormously fragile, and the space environment is instant death to us, while robots are quite hardy and becoming more so all the time.

From Macmillan Space Sciences Summary:

Humans have major advantages over machines in many areas, including mobility, manipulation skills, pattern recognition (e.g., geological evaluation of a site), robustness with respect to plan failures and system failures, selfrepair under broad parameters, capability to repair a multitude of other tools, and robustness in communication, to name a few.

From NASA Educational Brief [pdf]:

Humans are far more adaptable than robots and can react better to the unexpected. When things go wrong, humans can make repairs.

The act of comparing humans vs robots automatically makes the conversation a description of humans according to their efficacy as a tool. Even just saying, "describing humans" has a dehumanizing effect. But, this feeling of being "put in my place" so-to-speak is comforting, and at times, sublime.

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