Browser Head Robots
In all the movies we watch, there are mostly self-contained autonomous robots. Recently I began to think about exactly how much data you can truly pass on a 54 Mbps connection to a remote device. I began to think even more about the robots that we all dream about. Why wouldn't it be possible to develop a robot that has a basic interface, similar to a browser and just stream commands to it.
For example, if a robot needed to talk to a human being or another robot its audio pickups and optical pickups could stream the images coming from the other individual to a centralized server to be analyzed. The centralized server could process the data and send the appropriate response to the robot to speak, and what gestures to use. It may not be possible to pack enough hardware into a human sized head for a robot to think as well as a person, but then again, who is to say the we think fully in our own heads.
Obviously these types of machines have incredible applications in surveillance and espionage, as well as battlefield implementations. They could gather intelligence, and be disposable without much risk of compromising the technology. All of the hardware required to process information would be safely back in the United States. What we would have in essence would be a drone-army. They would almost immediately render war impractical, because we could always take more losses than anyone else. We would be losing only machines.
This brings about the movie scenarios where robots take over the world, and where robot wars between super-powers destroy the world. The use of military devices for deterrent hasn't been incredibly successful. All anyone has to do is look at the 70's and 80's to see that. I don't really advocate the use of robots to fight wars, but I am also pragmatic. It is unlikely that robots would be used only for civil projects. The advances that could be made in all fields by using these types of robots would be incredible. Especially the field of construction. Perhaps the paradigm of the thin-client will spread way beyond the computer and the network to the real world in the form of browser head robots. If I were to work for Google, and have a day a week to work on my pet projects. That would definately be it. Although, who am I kidding. I am a web developer, not a robotics genious, but you never know.