All this talk about Siri – is Siri a robot? Personally, I don’t think so. Siri is an impressive voice recognition engine with some very clever programming associated with it. The break thru in Siri really isn’t in what it does or says, that’s just programmatic, but rather what it understands. I think robots should be mechanical. Some people insist that the HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey is a robot. I disagree, neither the HAL 9000 or Siri are robots. They are computers. The big difference between the HAL 9000 and Siri is one is fictional. The HAL 9000 could also see (and sing). Considering Siri came a full ten years after the HAL 9000 and has less functionality, it really isn’t all that impressive.
Here is my list of super robots
Giant Robot – This Godzilla era mechanical wonder was my first favorite robot. Not only could it fight monsters, but it had voice recognition via a watch, and it could fly (with human passengers), punch, shoot, and save the world.
Marvin the Paranoid Robot: Marvin suffers from severe depression and boredom. He has the brain the size of a planet, but is forced to use it on trivial matters. It is tough being 50,000 times more intelligent than a human being, or 30 billion times more intelligent than a mattress. Marvin was a character in The HitchHiker’s Guide.
Deep Blue – I think it is sad that a computer beat a human at chess, but I take solace in knowing that it wasn’t because of articifial intelligence, but due to shear computing. Deep Blue was the first computer to beat a human chess champion in a brilliant PR stunt by IBM. Deep Blue was not IBM’s first attempt, it failed miserably the year before, so IBM spent a fortune to ensure Deep Blue would win in a rematch. IBM tried to repeat the stunt with Watson on Jeopardy, which was indeed impressive, but not like Deep Blue. Watson was a first attempt, and it kicked three really smart asses. No glory, just resentment.
T-1000 – I know you are supposed to root for the good guy, but this bad guy robot was, after all, an improvement over the goodie T-800. The T-1000 is much stronger and possesses a superior command of martial arts. Being liquid metal, the T-1000 can mimic any form it wants ranging from blending in as part of a floor to duplicating a human being. It can also turn it’s body into weapons. The T-1000 is an impressive piece of imagineering.
Lost in Space Robot. This robot had it all including exasperated hand movements.
Lt. Commander Data – Data is a great robot – an engineering marvel even in the 24th century. Super smart, super computing, super strength, a positronic brain, and Data is third in command of Starfleet’s flagship starship the Enterprise. Data was fully equipped and even known as a lover. I always thought it strange Data downloaded information by reading it (super fast) rather than just copying the data. It is too bad Data suffered from Pinocchio syndrome.
C3PO was also pretty impressive, but ultimately kind of useless. R2D2 was no Einstein either, had poor mobility, and very low res holographic projection.
The only real robot on my list is Deep Blue and it doesn’t even have arms. Perhaps the next generation will be able to create a list of top robots with more real ones.
See Related: Danger Will Robinson (Telepresence Robots)