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Frankenstein’s Creature or Commander Data?

T he development of advanced artificial beings and of bionic humans is well under way. The pioneering efforts of roboticists, neuroscientists, and other researchers are creating a powerful cross-disciplinary technology for the coming century, a rich medical–technical environment that might lead to autonomous artificial beings and to enhanced human bodies and minds.This tech- nology is actively driven by a variety of motives: scientific curiosity and the technological imperative, benefits for human health and lon- gevity, and applications in areas from industry to space exploration to warfare.

At the moment, industrial robots dominate: The latest compre-

hensive survey

orld Robotics 2002, issued by the United Nations Eco-

nomic Commission for Europe, puts their world population at 760,000, projected to soon reach a million.That same report, how- ever, also predicts increased use of robots in areas such as medicine and security, and explosive growth for household and entertainment robots, with a hundredfold increase in units sold between 1999 and

2005.

Despite this growing activity, no one has yet made a completely autonomous being, or one that seems consistently and convincingly

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