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Science
CONNECT - Robots
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How will we relate to the robots of the future?

Wednesday 14 August 2002, 9.00-9.30pm

The role science plays in everyday life often goes unnoticed. A visit to the museum, the dentist or even the fridge exposes us to breakthroughs in the lab that have spilled out into the real world. In Connect Quentin Cooper examines the technologies that make an impact on us all and finds out whether they are helping or hindering.

Robots

Though human looking robots are the most appealing robots under development, most don't look anything like us at all. This is probably because we humans are not best designed to perform endless repetitive tasks, or for crawling into dangerous and often inaccessible places.

But more and more robots are entering our daily lives, and whilst the arrival of a totally servile robot to serve our every need remains a futuristic dream, the advances being made in computing power are bringing that dream closer to reality.

In manufacturing and industry robots are now big business and are rapidly transforming the workplace. A whole new generation of robots that work faster, are cheaper and are more intelligent are doing more and more of our jobs. And scientists are now developing robots with digital brains that are capable of integrating vision, sound, touch and speech - and are even able to repair themselves and evolve.

So where does this leave us human beings? Will the robots we make become so sophisticated that our jobs, our livelihoods will be threatened? Or will we learn to work in harmony alongside each other? Quentin Cooper explores how manufacturing and industry are changing and asks what this means for the future.

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