Robot companions

Following "robot phone home," the next prediction from the AAAS meeting is that, within a decade cars could start driving themselves on highways and in less than 25 years automakers may be producing vehicles "smart" enough to chauffeur passengers through city streets.


The convergence of key technologies hint that, within decades, robots may be able to perform tasks that were hitherto only fiction. These advances include:

-- cheap, effective sensors that substitute for biological senses;

-- sophisticated software and computers that approximate nerves and brains; and

-- the ability to manufacture tiny mechanisms to mimic muscles.

San Francisco State University professor David Calkins, looked the furthest ahead, suggesting that robots would eventually become personal companions, answering questions, serving as butlers, even reading children bedtime stories.

Calkins said life-like robots could be used in elder care, performing routine medical functions like dispensing pills in hospitals, and serving as home care providers. He hinted that robot companionship could one day go, as teens once said, all the way, for "geek bachelors who can't get a girlfriend."

The riginal article featured this interesting historical blurb:

'The term "robot" was coined in the 1920s when Czech playwright Karel Capek used the word "robota" -- relentless work or drudgery in his own tongue -- to describe a factory of mechanical creatures that eventually revolt. Deceased science fiction author Isaac Asimov popularized robots in the 1950s. The 1977 "Star Wars" movie made heroes of C-3PO and R2-D2.'

Many warn, though, that as biological and silicon-based life converge, there are many legal and ethical issues to be sorted out, including privacy issues.

Or maybe today's ethical frameworks aren't up to the task, and we will need a radically new way of conceptualizing the world ... which we will accomplish through the 'SuperIntelligence' generated by brain upgrades.

The future is rushing toward us, and we need a way to integrate its insights with those of holistic health care and complementary medicine.
Law Offices of Michael H. Cohen offers general corporate legal services, litigation consultation, and expertise in health law with a unique focus on alternative, complementary, and integrative medical therapies.

Michael H. Cohen is Principal in Law Offices of Michael H. Cohen and also President of the Institute for Integrative and Energy Medicine (also known as the Institute for Health, Ethics, Law, Policy & Society), a forum for exploration of legal, regulatory, ethical, and health policy issues involved in the judicious integration of complementary and alternative medical therapies (such as acupuncture and traditional oriental medicine, chiropractic, massage therapy, herbal medicine) and conventional clinical care. The most recent published book by Michael H. Cohen on health care law, regulation, ethics and policy pertaining to complementary, alternative and integrative medicine and related fields is Healing at the Borderland of Medicine and Religion. This is the fourth book in a series, following Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Legal Boundaries and Regulatory Perspectives (1998), Beyond Complementary Medicine: Legal and Ethical Perspectives on Health Care and Human Evolution (2000), and Future Medicine: Ethical Dilemmas, Regulatory Challenges, and Therapeutic Pathways to Health Care and Healing in Human Transformation (2003).

Health care and corporate lawyer Michael H. Cohen has also been admitted to the Bar of England and Wales as a Solicitor (non-practicing), adding to Bar membership in four U.S. states.