Where Are All the Humanoid Robots?

We were promised Jetsons-style helpers but all we have is a big hockey puck that vacuums hardwood floors. Will inventors ever create great humanoid robots? If they do, will we accept them?

What's the Latest Development?

At the InnoRobo robotics conference, held this month in Lyon, France, the next wave of human helpers were on display but there were still no Jetsons-style, humanoid gabbers and dishwashers. Instead, the human-shaped robots were more likely to act as friendly interfaces to information and technology. A Japanese robot, which looked like a baby seal, is meant to help patients with dementia. "You can stroke it and it responds, you can teach it its name, and it will respond to care and affection and likewise shy away from poor treatment." 

What's the Big Idea?

Will humanoid robots ever become reality? Probably not in the way science fiction writers have imagined them. The human form is ill-suited to performing repetitive tasks like assembling machines or washing dishes, and those are precisely the kind of actions we are most likely to ask of our robot friends. Beyond how they function, psychology is at play in human-looking robots. "If it gets too human-like, people are very fearful," said Uwe Haass from the Cognition for Technical Systems at Munich's technical university. 

Photo credit: shuttesrstock.com

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

This is the best (and simplest) world map of religions

Both panoramic and detailed, this infographic manages to show both the size and distribution of world religions.

(c) CLO / Carrie Osgood
Strange Maps
  • At a glance, this map shows both the size and distribution of world religions.
  • See how religions mix at both national and regional level.
  • There's one country in the Americas without a Christian majority – which?
Keep reading Show less

New alternative to Trump's wall would create jobs, renewable energy, and increase border security

A consortium of scientists and engineers have proposed that the U.S. and Mexico build a series of guarded solar, wind, natural gas and desalination facilities along the entirety of the border.

Credit: Purdue University photo/Jorge Castillo Quiñones
Politics & Current Affairs
  • The proposal was recently presented to several U.S. members of Congress.
  • The plan still calls for border security, considering all of the facilities along the border would be guarded and connected by physical barriers.
  • It's undoubtedly an expensive and complicated proposal, but the team argues that border regions are ideal spots for wind and solar energy, and that they could use the jobs and fresh water the energy park would create.
Keep reading Show less
Image source: Topical Press Agency / Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Though we know today that his policies eventually ended the Great Depression, FDR's election was seen as disastrous by some.
  • A group of wealthy bankers decided to take things into their own hands; they plotted a coup against FDR, hoping to install a fascist dictator in its stead.
  • Ultimately, the coup was brought to light by General Smedley Butler and squashed before it could get off the ground.
Keep reading Show less