♦   8   ♦Robotics and Biology: The Inevitable Merging of Man and Machine

As a child, I believed that by the time I grew up, we would all have robots like Rosie, from The Jetsons, cleaning up after us. In this 1960s cartoon show, Rosie is the domestically adroit robot maid of a family, the Jetsons, in the year 2062. The on-demand economy appealed to my juvenile sensibilities: why should anyone waste time doing dishes or folding clothes? And I wasn’t very popular in school; I didn’t have many friends. So I longed for a droid friend like C-3PO, Luke Skywalker’s robot buddy from Star Wars.

Rosie never arrived. Just after the turn of the century, I got a Roomba, an automated vacuum cleaner that goes round and round and gets stuck on rug fringes and ...

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