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Industrial Robots

The world today has become one in which technology, riding on the back of scientific advance, appears to lead societal evolution. Travel and communication are two of the areas in which this is profoundly evident. Advances in travel now allow anyone to span distances in hours that, a century and a half ago, required weeks or months to traverse. Communication is instantaneous and omnipresent throughout most regions of the world.

Medicine is undergoing an explosive revolution, both in the treatment and eradication of disease and in the improvement of the human condition. In the past, for example, loss of a limb would have condemned a person to a life of diminished activity and, in some cases, social ostracism. Today, even in many under-developed countries, such a loss can be overcome with technology and modern medical science. Evidence is strong that, in the near future, even such personal catastrophies as a severed spinal cord may be either reparable or surmountable through computer- and servo-augmented mechanical systems.

Spaceflight, still in its infancy, promises Mankind the ability to one day travel to the stars and colonize other planets. At the time President Kennedy issued his famous challenge to place a man on the Moon, the technology and expertise necessary to do so did not exist. The achievement of that goal is one of the greatest triumphs in exploration ever conceived — how it was accomplished is the story of Man’s struggle with and mastery of technology to expand his frontiers.

Each major advance in technology brings with it a new set of challenges. Major issues confronting societies throughout the world today are the responsible and ethical application of technology, how to deal with the byproducts of a technological revolution driven by economics, and the need to bring technology-derived benefits to people at all social and economic levels. A less understood but more subtle problem is that of integrating the reality of scientific and technological advance with long-held social and religious doctrines.

Authored by Kenneth L. Anderson.  Original article published 3 June 2003, updated 27 August 2003.

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