There are many competing definitions of what actually constitutes a “robot,” but they can be categorized into two main groups:function of roboticsIndependent robotsIndependent robots are the classic conceptualization of robots: completely autonomous systems that can follow their programming without the need for direct physical intervention from a human operator.The practical applications of independent robots in society are varied. However, they sometime replace humans entirely for the execution of specific tasks.
These tasks are often mindless routines or dangerous jobs. For example, robots have been one of the principal drivers behind the automation in factories as well as having found a home in law enforcement as a way to remotely dispose of bombs.Dependent robotsA more recent development in robotics has been the creation of non-autonomous robots that are meant to interface with humans in ways that enhance their already existing actions. This can commonly be found in medicine and the field of prosthetics where robots are programmed to act in tandem with the human body itself, such as in the case of Johnny Matheny, the first man to live with an advanced mind-controlled robotic arm.While Johnny’s is still an exceptional case, it does highlight the growing trend of collaborative robots—“cobots” for short— that exist side by side with humans rather than replacing them altogether like their more traditional cousins.This form of robots has been the most disruptive to society at large; all but eradicating many low-wage manufacturing jobs and creating autonomous weapons of war that have been adopted by the U.S. Military.