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Robots Can Soon Feel Pain, Have Own Nervous System

Update Date: May 30, 2016 06:00 AM EDT
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Robots were built to help out humans in certain chores and would normally carry them out without a whimper. But what if a robot is armed with a central nervous system that allows them to understand pain? Would this not pose a problem when carrying out orders?

Such an occurrence has solicited divided reactions from critics. There are some who believe that this somehow goes against the purpose of using robots to carry out instances where the task may carry high risks while others laud it since it could be a means to advance in the sciences.

Depending on how one looks at it, there are good and bad outcomes from allowing robots to feel pain. Some consider it a sad display of robot bullying while some consider it a way to protect the human race.

“Pain is a system that protects us,” said researcher Johannes Kuehn via Spectrum IEEE. “When we evade from the source of pain, it helps us not get hurt.”

The whole situation brings to mind an old film “Bicentennial Man” which starred the late Robin Williams back in 1999. At that time, Williams started out as an android with no feelings but would eventually venture out to be human. That included inheriting a central nervous system that allowed him to feel pain and age.

Somehow, the current plan of researchers to use a nervous system within robots comes close to that. A robot that would be aware of injury-related consequence could be good especially if it safeguard humans from potential danger.

“A robot needs to be able to detect and classify unforeseen physical states and disturbances, rate the potential damage they may cause to it, and initiate appropriate countermeasures, i.e., reflexes,” said Professor Sami Haddadin, an expert on human-robot interaction.

Should the implementation be successful, humans stand to benefit from it, particularly the laborers who are exposed to the high-risk jobs. But as far as applying it on robots which were programmed to carry out duties that carry some threat to human lives, there may need to be exceptions since it could hinder productivity.

 In short, all these plans of implementing a nervous system in robots may be best done for science-related purposes. As far as including actual work, it may defeat the actual purpose of why they were commissioned to in the first place.

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