Why is nobody scared of robots anymore? It seems like only yesterday we could barely get the popcorn to our mouths, so atremble were our puny fingers at the sight, and the thought, of the Terminator. On the written page, Isaac Asimov was spending an outsize chunk of one of history’s more prolific careers wondering, and worrying, about the line between man and machine, both where and whether it could be drawn. The whole gosh-darn concept of “the uncanny,” supposedly under­pinning much of human fear, was described—at the term’s coining in 1906 by psychologist Ernst Jentsch—as “doubts whether an apparently animate being is really alive; or conversely, whether a lifeless object might be, in fact, animate.” Robo-fear, he might just as accurately have titled it, if people had talked like that back then and if the relevant Japanese hair-metal band had traveled back through time to grant its permission.

via Humanity’s High Hopes for Our Robotic Offspring |