Most of us associate the word “robot” with some modern high-tech contraption but the idea of a
mechanical human actually goes back a very long time. People are quirky, after all, and the idea of having even some of the functionality minus the drama has always been appealing.
The very definition of the word robot is a bit tenuous and nearly everyone has his or her own version. Joseph Engelberger, founder of the world’s first robotics company, once noted that he couldn’t really define a robot, but he knew one when he saw one.
At the very least, a robot could be expected to move around and manipulate its environment in some semi-intelligent way. In its purest form, it needn’t look anything like a human. As an example, consider MIT’s latest invention. Not only can it perform most of the rudimentary robot tasks, it can also assemble itself, and self-recycle when its work is done.