10 Evil Robots Bent on Destroying Humanity

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Dozens of Lost Letters From Alan Turing, Forefather of the Computer Age, Surface

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Author's Note: 10 Evil Robots Bent on Destroying Humanity

I grew up in the 1960s reading comic books and watching TV shows that featured anthropomorphic robots -- that is, ones designed to resemble humans and, to a degree, act like them. As a grown-up science writer, of course, I've come to understand that although we live in an age in which we're surrounded by actual robots, most of them are really glorified remote-control tools, such as the mechanical arms that paint cars on assembly lines and da Vinci, the machine that performs prostate cancer surgery with amazing deftness. Even so, I still harbor a fascination for machines that would not only mimic humans, but possibly blur the distinction.

Back in 2005, for example, I went to the Wired NextFest in Chicago, and got a chance to see a glimpse of that possible future, an android designed by robotics researcher David Hanson. The machine not only bore a striking resemblance to the late science fiction author Philip K. Dick, but was also programmed to utter cryptic statements that evoked Dick's obsession with the existential no-man's land that separated the artificial from the organic. For the first time, I got a sense of what it might be like if robots actually were alive and sentient, as they are in science fiction.

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