Will Robots Rise Up And Demand Their Rights?

Could a robot ever really want anything? The hard-core reductionists among us, myself included, think that in principle this must be possible. Humans, after all, are machines made up of organic molecules whose interactions can all be aped (we think) by sufficiently powerful computers.

So how well are we doing at creating living, wanting robots? We are making progress, both from the bottom up and from the top down. At one end, researchers are taking apart the simplest living bacteria--mycoplasmas--whose genome can be stored in less than a quarter of a megabyte, to better understand the process of life at the...

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