Generation Gap: Robo-Kids Are the Future

In the 10-part series Robot Madness, LiveScience examined humanoid robots and cybernetic enhancement of humans, as well as the exciting and sometimes frightening convergence of it all. This is the last episode.

Many people may scoff at stories of a Chinese farmer building robots that he considers more precious than his children, or a Canadian inventor creating a life-size female android companion. Then they go back to peering at their cell phones or PDAs with vision-enhancing contact lenses, iPod buds in their ears, as they query Google's search 'bot for their next destination.

The fact is modern humans increasingly rely on sophisticated, wearable technology which has enhanced or sometimes replaced our senses, organs and limbs — making us appear more like artificial constructs. At the same time, robots have begun learning to think, experience sensations and perhaps even understand emotions.

Today's kids might not recognize their grandchildren as fully human, unless the definition of human changes as well.

If you're still not convinced of an impending change, here are just a few of the existing robots getting touchy and feely:

Indeed, robots have already begun the process of overtaking their creators in the most literal sense: Scientists created a robotic Adam that has already made its first independent scientific discovery, we learned last week. And a newer robot scientist called Eve has begun screening chemical compounds for new pharmaceutical drugs to treat human ailments. Because robots will take care of their parents … one way or the other.

{{ video="LS_090309_09_WriteFutu" title="Write the Future: Is Your Great Grandchild a Robot?" caption="Who are your children's children? Individuals? Or cells of the super-organism? Or might they be both...? Credit: Thomas Lucas, Producer / Rob Goldberg, Writer" }}

Jeremy Hsu
Jeremy has written for publications such as Popular Science, Scientific American Mind and Reader's Digest Asia. He obtained his masters degree in science journalism from New York University, and completed his undergraduate education in the history and sociology of science at the University of Pennsylvania.