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aostling
03-08-2008, 12:15 AM
In 1948 the Magnolia Theater opened in my Seattle neighborhood. It had an "electric eye" to count each patron entering. I read somewhere that this application of the photoelectric effect was the world's first robot. I always thought it dated from this time.

Now I'm watching a 1940 long-haul trucker movie, They Drive By Night. I pause at a scene where a proud new home-owner shows off his garage door, operated by an electric eye. So perhaps 1940 is the year of the first robot.

Can anybody push it back further than that?

Evan
03-08-2008, 02:20 AM
I don't think a sensor operated device qualifies as a robot or else we will have to include such things as trip wires and snares.

To make any determination the term "robot" needs a strict definition. A better word is automaton.

Doc Nickel
03-08-2008, 02:33 AM
Agreed. Just a counter or photocell isn't a "robot", any more than a radio is.

Now, if you mean a programmable device used to perform tasks usually done by humans, automatons like Maillardets' scribe (http://www.fi.edu/learn/sci-tech/automaton/automaton.php?cts=instrumentation) date back to roughly 1800. And yes, it's programmable, albeit you have to change brass cam discs.

There's another automata that writes (I think from even earlier) that's more easily programmed- it has a large disc you simply mount prebuilt cam/cog assemblies to, each assembly represents a letter that it'll write.

Watch the YouTube on Maillardets' device- it's quite fascinating to see it move as it does, and moreso to know that it's over 200 years old.

Doc.

Doc Nickel
03-08-2008, 02:40 AM
Another video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1nxETblSi4) showing a similar device, supposedly built, according to the caption, between 1768 and 1774. There's a "how it works" video in the "related" section.

Doc.

Evan
03-08-2008, 02:56 AM
It can be pushed back a lot further than that. Who else but Leonardo Da Vinci?

http://www.leonardoshands.com/artman2/publish/leonardo-picture-and-video-galleries/Pictures_of_Leonardo_da_Vinci_s_Lost_Robot_Knight. shtml

kendall
03-08-2008, 03:05 AM
I wouldn't consider an electric eye operated device a robot either, but 'robot' definition has changed a lot over the years.

most people accept the definition of a robot as "A machine or device that operates automatically or by remote control" Some definitions include 'electronically' (In which case 'robot doors' are everywhere!)

a cam operated machine that takes something off a conveyor, and places it in a box is considered a robot. Most often they are set in motion by using a sensor, either microswitch, pressure sensor, or an electric eye.

Oddly, an electronic device that operates no differently than an RC car is considered a 'robot', Yet a mechanical device (clockwork driven) that can be programmed to perform set tasks with switches or cams is most often NOT considered a robot

Ken.

Doc Nickel
03-08-2008, 03:21 AM
It can be pushed back a lot further than that. Who else but Leonardo Da Vinci?

-Huh. That's a new one on me. I wonder if an example was ever built (meaning, apart from the recent remake.) Da Vinci had drawn up a great many things (including a machine for automatically cutting file teeth) that were never built until hundreds of years later- if at all.


Oddly, an electronic device that operates no differently than an RC car is considered a 'robot', Yet a mechanical device (clockwork driven) that can be programmed to perform set tasks with switches or cams is most often NOT considered a robot.

-Yep. The "Battle Bot" and "Robot Wars" machines aren't really "robots" as is commonly understood, they're basically just big, nasty radio-control cars.

However, there are other competitons, similar to FIRST, that require at least semi-autonomous robots, and of course there's DARPA's competitons for self-guided cars or trucks.

We still really don't have a definition, do we? :D

Doc.

Evan
03-08-2008, 03:43 AM
The word ROBOT is very recent. It was first used in the play and then Movie R.U.R., Rossum's Universal Robots. It was first produced as a play in 1921 by Karel Čapek. In the play the term ROBOT was clearly intended to mean what we would call today an android, a human like creature with the possibility of independent thought and intelligence which is a major part of R.U.R. Since it is a nearly contemporary term it would seem reasonable to adopt the originator's meaning as the definition. In that case simple automata are definitely not robots.

Doc Nickel
03-08-2008, 05:17 AM
Well, technically, he used the Czech word robota, which means simply "work". "Robot" is merely the Americanized spelling.

Which means, going by that base, a 'robot' could simply be something that 'does work'.

Much too open-ended for our purposes, of course- a garage door opener isn't what people think of when you say "robot". But then, Capek's definition doesn't work either- an industrial assembly manipulator is very much considered a "robot", but isn't human-like or capable of independent thought.

Just out of curiosity, the encyclopedia entry (a paper one, that is) defines it as "[...] a machine which copies the function of a human being in one respect or another".

That's still kind of open-ended (after all, didn't humans once open garage doors?) so there probably ought to be some measure of sophistication used, perhaps the qualification that it performs complex or at least repetitive tasks.

This is actually kind of interesting, because there's definitely no hard and fast line where anything below is a "dumb machine" and anything above is a "robot". Let's ask Hector (http://www.jeffbots.com/saturn3.html), see what he thinks. :D

Doc.

Evan
03-08-2008, 05:41 AM
Actually, in Czech Robota means forced labour or slavery. In Slovak it means merely work. A good friend of mine is Slovak and an ardent student of languages. He has explained to me that even though there is no apparent significant difference between the two languages as written the vocabulary does have significantly different shades of meaning depending on the language of origin. They still kill each other over those minor differences.

rockrat
03-08-2008, 07:18 AM
Ok, Ill take a stab at this. This reminds me of a discussion of the difference between NC and CNC I had a while back.

I seem to remember something in my industrial studies about a robot being classified as "mechanical automation that makes decisions based upon a set of circumstances presented to it, against logic that is provided for it". Or something close to that, I would have to dig through all those text books to find the exact quote.

This rules out bump and stop type automation (garage door opener) from being a robot. This type of equipment runs to a limit and waits for a command or a specific time before it continues.

It does included items from (guessing on the time frame here) the mid 60's when nc machines would eject a bad part based on some comparison and continue with a new part. Here the machine was given a choice, compared it with logic that it was provided and then made a decision.

Now I also recall from the lecture that there is a fuzzy area in here. Computers use logic and have been considered robotic before. But, a computer alone may or may not do anything mechanical based on what one would describe as mechanical. Does sending data to a mechanical printer classify the SYSTEM as a robot? This is where it is fuzzy.

And at that point the prof. said that for what we were doing, its not worth the argument, a discussion maybe.

Digest that a bit and lets see where we are.

rock~

IOWOLF
03-08-2008, 07:36 AM
And what about that thing that the Greek did, it worked on water movement.

Evan
03-08-2008, 07:43 AM
I'm going to wait for Allan to step back in and define robot in his terms.

Dawai
03-08-2008, 08:36 AM
Redefine: MOVIE ROBOT... FOrbidden planet... Robbie.. sold millions of toys..

THE lost in space robot was modeled after him somewhat..
But actual robot, autonomous operation without assistance by operator.. goes back to dawn of time with toy makers.

ie: since my lawnmower has only been turned loose to run into things on it's own controls and sensors, it is a poor designed robot. It is a radio controlled toy.

John Stevenson
03-08-2008, 09:03 AM
And what about that thing that the Greek did, it worked on water movement.

The flush toilet ??








.

aostling
03-08-2008, 09:16 AM
I'm going to wait for Allan to step back in and define robot in his terms.

Well, we can start with the definition in the Oxford English Dictionary, which cites Capek's 1923 play R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots).


One of the men and women in Capek's play; hence, a machine (sometimes resembling a human being in appearance) designed to function in place of a living agent, esp. one which carries out a variety of tasks automatically or with a minimum of external impulse.

This is not to say that this definition cannot be improved. Anyone should feel free to have a crack at it.

Evan
03-08-2008, 09:27 AM
esp. one which carries out a variety of tasks automatically or with a minimum of external impulse.

The key words there are "variety of tasks". That eplicitly requires a degree of flexibility not found in a garage door opener or most other automata.

J Tiers
03-08-2008, 09:39 AM
Ok, Ill take a stab at this. This reminds me of a discussion of the difference between NC and CNC I had a while back.

I seem to remember something in my industrial studies about a robot being classified as "mechanical automation that makes decisions based upon a set of circumstances presented to it, against logic that is provided for it". Or something close to that, I would have to dig through all those text books to find the exact quote.



Lots of things are "robots" in that definition.

Our clothes washer is a "robot", for instance.

While it does only one task (clothes washing), roman slaves had similar specializations, and were clearly intended to be basically robots by their owners.... (save the indignation, it was a long time ago).

Anyhow, the washer changes it's behaviour depending on what it determines about the load of clothes and its distribution. You can (if you are either bored, or intrigued) watch it and to a certain degree know it's logic as it "decides" what to try next when a load is not balanced, etc.

For that matter, the dryer changes it's behaviour depending on how dry the clothes are....

For that matter, the electric eye door can be considered a robot in that definition. it makes the decision to open or not open the door, based on a set of circumstances (light-blocking object in view or not) that are presented to it, compared against the logic that is provided for it.

Evan
03-08-2008, 10:09 AM
The only device that comes close to the Oxford definition and is able to do a variety of tasks as well as change it's own programming is the general purpose computer. Not integrated controls but the PC you are using to read this. Being able to alter the programming itself is a major item in that it provides the cabability to learn. It's the only device in history with that capability and was likely forseen to some degree by Capek. There is a long history, almost a tradition of science fiction accurately predicting future developments.

aostling
03-08-2008, 10:14 AM
The only device that comes close to the Oxford definition and is able to do a variety of tasks as well as change it's own programming is the general purpose computer.

Yes, now that I've posted this definition (which I think is a good one), it is clear that the electric eye is no robot. It was just futuristic, relying on photons to accomplish a mechanical task, perhaps for the first time.

J Tiers
03-08-2008, 10:32 AM
be VERY careful in your determinations.........

YOU use photosensors (assuming you are not blind), etc, and those things are clearly COMPONENTS of any automaton/robot.

If the electric eye door MEASURED YOU and "decided" to let some people in, while blocking other people, dogs, tumbleweeds, etc, it would be functioning in the same way as a doorman, and as-such would be quite within any definition of a 'robot', at least within it's capabilities.

The one quibble is "a variety of tasks". You can get a lot of mileage out of that small phrase, but I submit that it is not specifically relevant.

There are, after all, PEOPLE who are suited to only a very narrow range of simple tasks, and whose capabilities are not sufficient for any wider range. We do not (most of us) deny those folks the title "human" simply because they are not particle physicists.

For that matter, we do not deny a particle physicist the title "human" simply because particle physics is all he is good at, since he may be (and they often have been) very incompetent at the tasks of daily living.

Similarly with "robots". You may have a "robot door opener" or you may have a "general purpose robot".

loose nut
03-08-2008, 11:22 AM
Maybe the confusion goes back to when any simple electronic gizmo (you gotta love that word), like an electric eye, was refereed to as a robotic device even though they didn't really fit the description as we know it now. Model Engineer magazine had an article on photo receptors aka. electric eyes in the early 1930's as a new invention but I don't know if thats when they were really developed. The 1939 World Fair had a robot giving demonstrations and I believe there was a similar one in Britain about the same time, but they were just remote control "robots" not anything like a "real" android. Now does anyone know were I left the Automatic Duotronic Phase Shift Coupler I was working on.:cool:

oil mac
03-08-2008, 11:34 AM
Could one of the early example of a robotic machine, be the Jackquard loom, which gave constand repeatability, and was the early forerunner of the punch tape used in the first generation of machine tools, much of the development of this technology was carried out by Ferranti in Edinburgh, in conjunction with Edinburgh University, This was i believe applied to the worlds first totally electronically controlled milling machine And another i was thinking on, was the Enigma machine for code breaking? Invented by Alan Turing at Blexley Park in England

loose nut
03-08-2008, 11:43 AM
Alan Turing worked on the Colossus machine that was used to break the Enigma machine "codes" and the Jacqurad loom probably was the first NC machine, Sort of, maybe.

J Tiers
03-08-2008, 12:02 PM
I do not think the loom can be considered in any way "robotic" as it made NO decisions that were not 100% determined ahead of time by the pattern plates.

it was essentially similar to an NC machine, which is also not a "robot" if the "decision making" is considered.

Both would perform the same operations with or without the presence of tools, materials, etc. Same with "welding robots" or "painitng robots" of the early types in auto plants, which simply went through a preset program of operations and movements.

To go back to the door example.

The door could be programmed to open at certain times. The times might not correspond to times when there was a person wishing to enter, or it might close prematurely and strike a person or object in the doorway. It has no "knowledge" of the condition of the doorway. It cannot be considered "robotic", merely "programmed".

The electric eye door is much closer, at least bordering on the "robotic". It DOES have an "awareness" of the condition of the doorway, and "decides" to open or not to open based on that "knowledge".

A door which measures the object in it's field of view and decides based on certain characteristics of that object is somewhat more capable, but may not be "logically" much different. It merely checks different characteristics beyond those "measured" by the basic electric eye.

If you wish to limit the "robot" to a humanoid appearing device that behaves similarly to a human and does jobs similarly to a human, that is, of course you prerogative, although it drastically limits the meaning of "robot". It obviously does not include the electric door operator, despite the fact that the door operator performs a function previously performed by a human.

I would suggest that a 'robot" is a device which performs a job which a human has performed, or at least theoretically could perform, and which has at least some "awareness" of the conditions under which the job is performed, as well as some decision making as to when and/or how the job is performed based on that 'awareness".

I do not require that a human could step in place of the robot, as humans have for instance, size, temperature, and strength limits not necessarily shared by a robot. I also do NOT require that the "robot" should be capable of moving around, nor do I put any limits on the number of tasks that it must be capable of doing.

Under that definition, a sensor door opener just squeaks in, while the loom etc, is definitely excluded.

boslab
03-08-2008, 12:09 PM
i cant define robot as such but heres a few thoughts that came to mind, mighty sir john, earl of spudwater mentions a toilet which leads me to think that the any feedback loop as in the ball cock valve could be loosley referred to at a 'robot', how about Babbage and his difference engine? the system aproach seebs to originate with the likes of Boole, the rules of logic that control all robots/automations/computers/electronics seem to originate here.
myself i would think that the power loom and sewing machine were the first, but i stand to be corrected.
how about that earthquake detector in early china, its mechanical and automatic?
regards
mark
[i have a couple of mitsibushi melfa rv10's in the shop for repair, they are definatly not robots, just evil]

Evan
03-08-2008, 12:11 PM
The loom was most certainly an automaton and fits that definition exactly. A robot is also an automaton since the class of automata is inclusive of robots but being an automaton does not make something a robot.

kendall
03-08-2008, 12:47 PM
I'd have to disagree with 'decision making' making as part of the definition.

Programming is based in large part on 'IF-THEN' scenarios, which require pre-programmed responses, so even the most advanced robots are essentially 'bump and turn' automata, and do not realy make a decision.

Ken.

rockrat
03-08-2008, 02:20 PM
Lots of things are "robots" in that definition.

Our clothes washer is a "robot", for instance..

Fair enough. I rarely hit the bullseye on the first shot. Hummmm... A bit more thinking.


Programming is based in large part on 'IF-THEN' scenarios, which require pre-programmed responses, so even the most advanced robots are essentially 'bump and turn' automata, and do not realy make a decision

If this is true then only a conscious thing could be a robot, and we would be back to a human and closer to that definition posted earlier.

I would say that a robot does indeed work off of 'If-then' scenarios. But, it can (through if-then logic) get from point a to point b via point c. That is to say, if there is something in the robots way, the robot has been supplied a series of logical scenarios and it is allowed to choose its path. But since it has no conscious it uses the logic and selects the best path based on the logic.

Rambling a bit but still thinking it all over.

rock~

kendall
03-08-2008, 02:36 PM
If this is true then only a conscious thing could be a robot, and we would be back to a human and closer to that definition posted earlier.

rock~


Exactly. It doesn't 'decide' it responds with a pre-programmed action which can come extremely close to emulating a decision process, but is at heart a simple if-then process.


ken.

J Tiers
03-08-2008, 05:36 PM
Exactly. It doesn't 'decide' it responds with a pre-programmed action which can come extremely close to emulating a decision process, but is at heart a simple if-then process.


ken.

Quite similar to yourself...........

<IF (see hungry animal too big to kill)

THEN (run)

ELSE (ouch, this is gonna hurt for a while and I won't get home)


Don't start making distinctions too closely-defined, because you may not like the results.................

topct
03-08-2008, 05:46 PM
1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

When it can do this, it is a true robot.

aboard_epsilon
03-08-2008, 05:48 PM
Archimedes ..however you spell his name ..probably did it ..

and the Chinese had automatrons...clockwork toys ...or whatever they are called 1000's of years ago.

all the best.mark

J Tiers
03-08-2008, 05:55 PM
1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

When it can do this, it is a true robot.

According to one person, anyway........

Whatever.

You going with him, or with Harrison (War with the Robots)? The latter has a lot of thoughts that may have led to the "Terminator" movies.

topct
03-08-2008, 06:30 PM
According to one person, anyway........

Whatever.

You going with him, or with Harrison (War with the Robots)? The latter has a lot of thoughts that may have led to the "Terminator" movies.

It does not say that laws cannot be broken. Your example is what can happen when they are.

The basic laws were meant to be a standard, an ideal robot.

The breaking of the laws create some interesting scenarios.

Rustybolt
03-08-2008, 07:44 PM
The word was first coined by the czech novelist Cepec in his science fiction novel"The War Of The Newts"

kendall
03-08-2008, 08:45 PM
Quite similar to yourself...........

<IF (see hungry animal too big to kill)

THEN (run)

ELSE (ouch, this is gonna hurt for a while and I won't get home)


Don't start making distinctions too closely-defined, because you may not like the results.................


not the same at all, people -decide- what they want to do, in the case of a robot
Someone decided to learn programming, someone decided to learn engineering, someone decided to learn machining and or robotics.someone decided to get them all together for the purpose of building a robot. So the robot is the product of a whole series of decisions made by various people.

Programmed responses as used by robots are no more decisions than drawing back your hand when you get too close to fire is, it's a reaction learned through experience.
You've learned it hurts, so you -decide- to stay away from it, though you are fully capable of DECIDING to walk accross coals, or leave your hand in the fire if you want.

Robots use programmed responses people both make decisions and use 'programmed' responses.

Ken.

Paul Alciatore
03-08-2008, 08:50 PM
I do not think the loom can be considered in any way "robotic" as it made NO decisions that were not 100% determined ahead of time by the pattern plates.

it was essentially similar to an NC machine, which is also not a "robot" if the "decision making" is considered.

........

Lets not be too hasty here. I am not familiar with the details of that loom, but if it had even one device that was designed to perhaps detect the absence of thread where it was needed, then it would have had decision making capability. If <no thread> Then Stop, Else Continue Running. I certainly would have included such a feature, if not in the original design, then in the first modification after watching it continue weaving after the thread ran out or broke.

And most NC machines would also have safety devices that make "decisions". Heck, an electric room heater will have a tilt switch to turn it off if it is not in the correct position. Anyone want to call an electric heater a robot?

I'm sure that will stir the pot some. This definition is more blurred than you think. We may have to resort to that famous thought on pornography, "I can't define it, but I know it when I see it."

Evan
03-08-2008, 09:16 PM
Going back to the Oxford definition the key is the phrase "variety of tasks". An automaton can do the same as a robot but only for one single application. Decision making is often as simple as if/then for humans as well as computers but that doesn't mean a computer is restricted to only that type of logic. According to the definition the robot must be able to function as a general purpose automaton with the ability to function as such with minimal external input. It is the general purpose nature of the robot that sets it apart from a lawn sprinkler following a hose.

Decision making in a computer is entirely deterministic. That means in principle given a complete starting state description and knowledge of all the inputs the output of a computer may be 100 percent predicted in advance. However, there is a problem called complexity. Not all deterministic problems admit of solutions. Chess is a good example. The game has too many possible outcomes to be fully solved by examining all the possible move sequences. Yet, it is possible to program a computer to play a very good game of chess anyway.

J Tiers
03-08-2008, 11:13 PM
The chess program does NOT rely on a "see this, do that" response.

The ideal door opening robot I described, would evaluate the characteristics of a 'thing" coming within view, and if the resulting score was high enough, opens the door. This is MORE than "possible" now.

It isn't much lower 'reasoning" than employed by some people doing much the same task...... And the "items" coming to the door are not controlled.

A mere electric eye might open for a box that the wind blew. The more capable opener wouldn't.

Forget multiple tasks, that is merely describing a "universal" robot. In other words, ONE type, in a spectrum of "robot types". Useless for definition

Does it act as a human might as far as decision and action? Then perhaps it is a robot.

But ultimately, the question "is this a robot?" is unanswerable, because there are so many different definitions. The "accepted", or "dictionary" definition as provided earlier, I find unduly restrictive, and I do NOT "accept" it.

aostling
03-09-2008, 12:41 AM
The "accepted", or "dictionary" definition as provided earlier, I find unduly restrictive, and I do NOT "accept" it.

An attribute of the OED is that it not only provides a definition, it cites uses of the word in the literature, especially those which elucidate. It quotes the Times from 1 July 1980:


A real robot is programmable; it can be programmed to perform different, and changing tasks. In 1978 Japan put 1,100 playback or programmable robots into its factories.

But nobody would say you are bound to accept the definition of any particular dictionary.

J Tiers
03-09-2008, 11:59 AM
OK, how much is enough?

WHAT "variety"?

One could argue that " those 'robots' don't perform 'enough' variety of task to qualify as 'robots'. they are fixed in position, for instance"

And, is a "robot" defined by its first use as a word? That would be unique in the english language.

I offer you the notorious word "gay". If you pedantically insist on using it in its initial meaning, you will probably be beaten to a pulp in the first or second bar you enter.

The term "robot" has progressed past being required to be at least nominally "android". So it is already changing.

The OED, or other dictionary, does NOT "define" what a word is, how it is to be used.

They DOCUMENT HOW A WORD IS USED AT THE TIME OF THEIR PRINTING.

Evan
03-09-2008, 12:05 PM
As a side note, they way in which a computer plays chess and the way a human plays the game are utterly different. They couldn't be further apart and yet the best programs are virtually equal to the best players. Kasparov in particular specializes in playing the programs because he understands how they work and is able to "think" as they do. He knows how best to cause the computer program difficulty in analyzing the play. Humans (the masters) play chess largely by rote memory of the current board position. They have a memory for nearly every possible combination of moves and the resulting outcome from having played multi thousands of games. When they see a particular position come up they can then extrapolate a few moves ahead with the assistance of the memory of previous games.

The computer relies in part on brute force analysis combined with a technique that assigns numerical weights to individual pieces and their position on the board. To make the problem tractable a pruning technique is used that tries to evaluate the quality of a move before it is analyzed in depth. If it has a value lower than a previously analyzed move at a particular look ahead depth then further analysis of that move is terminated. When the time alloted for analysis of a particular move in the game has expired the highest ranking move so far analyzed is then selected as the computer's next move.

A human that tries to beat the computer at it's own game will lose every time. Even the best chess players can only perform look ahead to a depth of 3 to 4 moves in the early stages of play while the computer can easily calculate all the possible moves to a depth of perhaps 9 or so moves.

What Kasparov does, in part, is use unorthodox strategies that wouldn't work against a human to make the board as complex as possible. He also tries to throw the computer out of it's opening book as quickly as possible. The opening book is a strategy used by both humans and computers and it relies on memorizing valuable sequences of moves that lead from all the possible first moves. If you watch a professional game you will see that the first moves require little or no deliberation.

aostling
03-09-2008, 12:48 PM
They DOCUMENT HOW A WORD IS USED AT THE TIME OF THEIR PRINTING.

You are quite correct, the OED makes no attempt to dictate what a word means. It describes the meaning, not only in current usage but throughout the known history of the word, with citations. This is why the 2nd Edition runs to 21,730 pages, in 20 volumes.

The next edition will likely have an altered definition for robot.

wierdscience
03-09-2008, 01:05 PM
"a mechanical or electro-mechanical device designed to pick,place,or position by means of logic remote from human interaction"

That is the definition I remember.The type of logic and it's application could be argued to infinity,it could be as simple as pins on a disc to everything short of true AI and still be classed as a robot or robotic.

The numbers of functions shouldn't matter since no true decision making can take place outside of the machine's program.

An arguement could be made that a robot is simply a mechanical representation of a biological system.This could cover everything from a single celled organism(nanite) to a dinosaur(computer driven excavator)

That could be applied to the OP electric "eye",it's non-biologic and automaticaly preforms a y/n function independant of human interaction.

Or it could be another time we have been given a word that means something differeent to each person you ask:)

Prokop
03-10-2008, 09:19 AM
The word ROBOT is very recent. It was first used in the play and then Movie R.U.R., Rossum's Universal Robots. It was first produced as a play in 1921 by Karel Čapek. In the play the term ROBOT was clearly intended to mean what we would call today an android, a human like creature with the possibility of independent thought and intelligence which is a major part of R.U.R. Since it is a nearly contemporary term it would seem reasonable to adopt the originator's meaning as the definition. In that case simple automata are definitely not robots.

Wow, I am impressed:) There is only one more detail, the word robot was created - some believe - by Karel's brother Josef Čapek:

http://capek.misto.cz/english/robot.html