The Evolution of Science and Technology in the Field of Robotics

Abstract

The innovations in the world today have immersed in the field of science and technology which developed more helpful things and functions accurately than those inventions in the past. In this paper, the researcher presents the facts about robots in relation with biopsychology, and gives more information about the background and history of the robotic limbs and cyborgs, and the robotic interactions as well. This paper explains the evolution of science and technology in the field of robotics and advanced automation which will be seen in the future as more productive inventions that will benefit different areas especially in biopsychology.

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Introduction

Over the past four decades, a better understanding of how the brain controls movement urged many scientists to seriously scrutinize the notion of the thought-driven artificial limbs. If people would recall watching the television series such as the Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman in the early 1970, those television series were about fictional cyborgs working for the government. The robots had surgical implantation in the arms, legs, and eyes. In 1987, the movie Robocop was released. This movie was about a terminally wounded cop returning to the force as powerful cyborgs. All those three programs illustrated the use robotic limbs, artificial limbs/legs, prosthesis, bionic eyes.

The articles written about science and technology have come into an innovation that depicts the creation of the first bionic man which has a body of a part human and part machine. People view science fiction as a reality now that cyborgs are coming in an actual scenario, but the stories related to the robots are somehow exaggerated and may seem too high- tech as the creators advance in a great level.

Despite the idea of being vulgar when it comes to the new innovations such as cyborgs, there are still positive interests that have come out from the inventors who linked the brain into computers by producing robotic limbs which are basically manipulated by the human brain. Thus, the development in technology benefits the disabled people greatly and helps the amputees to function like normal people as if nothing is artificial in their system (Rorvik et al., 1971).

In relation with the biopsychology, it is widely known that this field studies how the brain and the neurotransmitters affect the behaviors, thoughts, and feelings of a person. In that case, it is a big issue on how the brain will react to the functions of the artificial limb that is attached to a particular person. The biopsychologists focus more on the emotions and interactions between the brain and the robotic limbs which have complexities.

What are robotic limbs and cyborgs?

Gillett described robotic limbs or artificial limbs as a kind of prosthesis that puts back the missing extremity of an amputee especially in the arms and leg part of the body. In the description of the professor, it was also mentioned that the robotic limbs primarily depends on the lost part of the amputee and have to be connected to the functions of the brain.

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It had justifications that the brain should function in a way that it would equally relate to the intelligence of the technology in all senses and be able to manipulate by the behavior of the person (Gillett, 2006). However, the need for an artificial limb may be caused by a damaged limb through accidents, diseases which took severe operations or perhaps it may appear to be in born (Lyotard, 1984).

On the other hand, a cyborg is an organism that has natural parts of a human and an artificial one as how Gillett illustrated in his journal article (Gillett, 2006). Essentially, the term cyborg came from Manfred Clynes and Nathan Kline who used it in an article in 1960 when they elaborated the benefits of the human- machines in outer space. Clynes as he used in his written article, the cyborg is frequently seen today as a creature which has helped people to do a lot of things by its abilities to respond to the environment but however it interprets responses in an oversimplified manner (Halacy, 1965).

The structure of the system of a robot more often than not are mechanically organized and it can be recognized as a kinematic chain where in its functionality are the same as what the human body has. The system has links, actuators or bones, and composes of several kinds of actuators that tolerate one or more degree of free will. The robots before have open serials that attach each to one another and were called serial robots which was commonly linked to a human body (Greenville, 2002).

How does it work with the brain signals?

In animals and humans, it continuously estimates and sends intricate signals in order to move an arm, a hand or may be a leg. More on the researches today about the robotic limbs, originated from the past studies that have been translated into the special language and interpretations of the modern world. Just like for example, in the 1970s, the discoveries about a particular pattern of activity in a relatively small number of brain cells can calculate the changes of the force in the movements of the wrist of a monkey.

So far the researchers have had accomplishments with the programs about monkeys and most commonly in rats, and even eel-like creatures. Evidence is that, in latest work that scientists set in electrodes that will perceive cell activity into the brains of the two monkeys. Computer programs analyzed the activity, and apparently predicted the premeditated response of the monkeys and launched the control to a robotic arm.

When a monkey extensively moved its arm, the robotic arm would move concurrently in a parallel way. Many other kinds of animal researches have exposed more characteristics of the language movement like the kind of the activities in the cell that is needed to drive the arms in an exact position (Greenville, 2002). With this initial knowledge, the scientists enhanced the computer programs which could analyze and interpret the decoded language and be able to provide accurate actions or responses that should be initiated by a certain robotic limb.

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Totally manipulated robotic limbs which have the same abilities as a natural human body part have not been invented so far in science though there are robots which can act independently but still they can not act on their own feelings or emotions. The studies on how to naturally act on the brain signals are not yet in the run as it needs more intricacy on the inventions to be able to produce some kind of a Robocop person who moves according to its own thinking.

Review of Literature; the History of Robotic limbs and Cyborg

Robotic limbs were referred to as the Rigveda or the iron leg which was given to Vishpala by the Ashvins. The very first example was found during the 300 BC in a tomb in Capua, Italy and was called the Roman Capua. The leg was made out of a copper and wood. Also, two artificial toes were found in Egypt and it is older than the one found in Italy which dated from 1295–664 BC and those were examined in July 2007 to know if the parts were used before in reality and connected to a live human body.

The artificial limbs have been used since the 15th and 16th century by the fighters who have lost their limbs and those limbs were initially made of iron. The innovation had come out of its way when the craftsmen developed an artificial limb which was made out of wood because it had a lighter weight to carry. When the 19th century came, the artificial limbs became more popular to a lot of people who lost some limbs in the Napoleonic Wars in Europe and in the American Civil War (Gray, 1995).

Talking about cyborgs, the notion about the combination of a man and a machine has become well-known in science as an imagination before the World War II. Many scientists and writers as well have stated their own ideas of a half man and a half machine creature through their literature in as early as the 1840s. In 1843, Edgar Allan Poe who was a famous writer illustrated a man as in wide prostheses in his story of The Man that was used up and a lot more comparisons.

But the most dominant idea was prevailed by Manfred E. Clynes and Nathan S. Kline; the two tagged the term cyborg as they discussed the ideas about its benefits and ability to continue its existence in an extraterrestrial place such as in the outer space (Halacy, 1965). The concept of the two depicted the result of the hunger in evaluating the relationship between a man and a machine. But apparently, in an article reviewed by Sarah Cohen Shabot said that a cyborg is primarily a man- machine manipulated by the human part through a drug and it lives differently from the normal people who are not cyborgs. And also Shabot discussed the dilemmas that cyborgs bring in many aspects that have effects on the interaction between human and machines (Shabot, 2006).

The world views that the imaginative cyborgs are illustrated as a combination of an organic and synthetic parts that gives issues with the morality, freedom of expression or its free will to act on its own and emotions that are critically compared to the acts of a normal person. The fictional cyborgs may be described as an obvious mechanical approach just like for example the Borg in the Star Trek franchise or Amber in the game project of Eden (Poovey, 2006).

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The unrealistic portrayals of the cyborgs were commonly seen by the people as annoying because it shows the dependability of the people to the abilities of the cyborgs. It makes people rely on the physical and mental capabilities of the cyborgs and most especially it gives people the fear of being replaced by the totality of the cyborgs. Humans are threatened as they think the things which a cyborg can do are far beyond than the things that a normal person can and also the use of high- tech gadgets that a cyborg have such as the deadly weapons and the like (Halberstam et al., 1995).

Where are we today with the technology of robotic limbs and cyborgs?

The applications of the researches of the scientists in the past have been innovating through the development of a more high- end gadget that will take its part in a significant manner. There are recent studies and experiments on how to firmly connect the robotic limbs with the brain and this has gone so far with the use of the responsive animals as their subject matter (Buller, 2006).

Somehow, cyborgs are now into the modern world and merely possess the abilities of a natural human body. Let us take for example the case of Jesse Sullivan, who is a famous cyborg which is now operating a fully robotic limb by a nerve-muscle graft. The bionic arm of Sullivan is a prototype which was developed by the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and was not the same from other prostheses. In 2001, Sullivan was fixing an electrical line for a Tennessee power company when he was accidentally electrocuted. His arms had to be surgically removed and he was fixed with a mechanical prostheses.

The researchers who were led by Todd A. Kuiken of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago put back the left prosthetic arm of Sullivan with a robotic arm where in Sullivan can manipulate through the nerves attached from his shoulder to his chest. This scenario allowed him to move his robotic arm just by thinking, and at this time, he is able to move freely and do tasks which a normal man can do (Kuiken et al., 2007).

But in spite of Sullivan’s case, it will take many years before any captive patient can manipulate a robotic limb in an easy way. The interactions between the brain and machine let patients to gradually and messily move a cursor and it only might be able to control an easy and clunky claw, but still nothing is comparable to the complication of the new arms of Jesse Sullivan. However, even the high- tech robotic limbs of Sullivan do not draw closer to challenge the usefulness of the real thing or the natural part of the human body. A real human arm has actually seven levels of freedom and a human hand has twenty-two levels of freedom.

While those of the robotic limbs will unquestionably be built with that level of involvedness, it will be capable of imitating or functioning like a normal human limb, and all the numerous poses that a human arm and hand can initiate. It is tough to see how difficult machines like the robots and cyborgs can ever be prohibited by either the signals of the muscles that Jesse Sullivan exercises or by an inheritor of the present relation of the brain and the machine.

The future of robotic limbs and cyborgs

The researchers suppose that in the near future, more multifaceted robotic limbs will totally help the disabled humans to put back the lost parts of a human body with a natural response from the brain and emotions of a human with a computer- generated program. But before considering that calculation the people should take into account the complexities of the things inclined to that on different areas including the response of the technology in the real world.

With the knowledge of how the brain signals work with the robotic limbs and cyborgs, another thing to examine is about how the brain works on trading in signals to and from the appendage which will create loops of interfaces. The rat and lamprey studies have provided ideas that the brain could distinguish and made reactions to the feedback. But as of the moment, the researchers are providing some components of a feedback like for example visual hints to the responding animals such as monkeys (Mitchell, 2003).

According to Gillett, many years from now, the people will view machines with a higher level of intelligence than humans. It means that the robots will dominate humans in particular areas such as making decisions (Gillett, 2006).

Discussion

Many scientists have gone into researches on the development of technology in cyborgism and how these machines interact with the reality. The researches have come out of ideas on how to connect the brain signals into the artificial limbs that will act like a natural part of the body and respond to the feelings and emotions of one person. This kind of idea has been viewed as a science fiction that could only happen in movies such as that in Robocop but over the several past years of better studies, understanding carefully how the brain manipulates the actions of the body gave them the inspiration of examining the concept of the ideas about the artificial limbs and cyborgs (Clynes et al., 1960).

Further discussions on how machines work with the brain signals follows in with the facts presented in this paper. It is clearly known that the brain can manipulate the seat of the mind for a bit four centuries from now. A group of science educators have said that the head is the soul of the body. The animals are able to mentally move robotic limbs so it is evident that the robots can function with the human brain even though it is not to the extent with what it can do in animals.

It helps paralyzed people to act and put on their loss ability as they would have their own and new parts of their body. Better explanations on how robots work with the brain signals is citing an example like the infamous Functional Electrical Stimulation that can restore the simple actions on a paralyzed muscle. This kind of technology uses electrical impulse whether applied to the nerves or straight to the muscles and through this, it starts the paralyzed muscle again into an active mode that takes the paralyzed muscle into a responding action accordingly (Klugman, 2001).

However, according to the Breazeal, the affective system of the robots was based only on the computational models of the basic emotions that were programmed in the system of the robots (Breazeal, 2003).

Social referencing should be use to help from an affective appraisal of a machine to manage the interactions of cyborgs with its environment (Berlin et al., 2005). A challenge in social referencing arises in the sense of remembering the affective appraisals from the familiar objects to learn new objects and incorporating these into the emotions of the robots. In an article reviewed, it was said that the robot must distinguish the totality of the emotional content of the object before responding accurately (Lee et al., 2004). Thus, it is one of the reasons why the system of the robots does not have assertive feedback in every action that it makes.

The technology has improved for the past two years and the availability of financial resources which was funded by the government made the discoveries become more realistic and productive as to the recent years, a huge deal of importance has been given to it. The scientists have emerged in developing artificial or robotic limbs which will look like a natural one. Advances in this kind of technology helps better understand the connection of science in the field of biopsychology and technology on innovations especially the high- tech robots or machines which could help replace a particular disabled part of a human body (Kurzweil, 2005).

Conclusion

People could benefit a lot from the brain- machine technology or the robotic limbs indeed, but those cases should be limited to affirmative actions that will bring welfare to the world. It was said that the people with motor diseases or harsh disorders mentally can be saved with brain implants. The amputees might attain a new independence and freedom to move on their own and mobility through the use of the prosthetics that are controllable by a person’s mind.

The blind people gets new electronic eyes and the deaf may obtain new ears which is a great help and the paralyzed people could be in an active mode of action by these emerging discoveries. But still, it is probable to picture out the world as to where these technologies will be used for a lesser fine purpose which is from a generation flight into a more realistic view with the active control and manipulation of the innocent subjects to the self- destructive pursuit of neurological perfection (Gillett, 2006).

The brain implants will come to a more possible approach where in the operation will get susceptible to a safer outcome and will possibly assure the patient a positive result when it comes to its functions as if it is manipulated by the human brain. The consciousness of the people about this certain topic lies in the middle issue that in some years, when the technology today will be improved greatly, when the brain surgeries become safer and will be trusted by the patients that it will not just be an option to undergo the process of replacing their lost parts with a machine.

In a not so long period of time before, the tendencies of controlling the minds of the people by machines would have been alarming across the world (Haraway, 1990). This point of view was also cited in the article of Shabot as she contested the abilities of the cyborgs with the human race (Shabot, 2006).

The noticeable appeal will see advances in science and technology as final evidence that man is just an intricate machine after all, that the brain is just a computer which is a programmable one, and that our thoughts and identity are just software which can easily be manipulated and direct to what it should be. But in the world of reality, the new powers of the people should lead to a diverse conclusion: for a fact that the geniuses can pattern the brain and combine it with machines to do or demonstrate explicit functions, the thinking process of a being is still a different issue. Machines should only learn from humans and not dominate any aspects in human life (Bagnell et al., 2008).

A natural human can never be a machine and vice versa. The psychophysical unities of a man are fixed yet creative, personified yet spiritual and those attributes can never be compared to the machines. So, the inventors of the high- tech machines should learn from the myth makers of the past and not contradict with the natural principles. Even though the people seek to have the human life to be improved by collaborating machines with the brain, people should be aware of being keen observers which could possibly make each individual worse in the pursuance of developing more for the benefit of our own (Muri, 2006).

References

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Kuiken TA, Miller LA, Lipschutz RD, Lock BA, Stubblefield K, Marasco PD, Zhou P, Dumanian GA. Targeted reinnervation for enhanced prosthetic arm function in a woman with a proximal amputation: a case study. (2007).

Kurzweil, R. The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology. Viking, 2005.

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Lyotard, J. F. The postmodern condition: A report on knowledge. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984.

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Poovey, B. Man’s fake arm provides hope for GIs. Associated Press, 2006.

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Shabot, S. C. (2006). “Grotesque Bodies: A Response to Disembodied Cyborgs.” Journal of Gender Studies. IX, pp. 223 – 235.

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