Peter Watts has an interesting post about some of the work being done in robot design which suggests the possibility that machines of the future may have more “lifelike” attributes than people usually think. For instance, mucous is apparently an important aid in the acuity of human smell, and mechanical olfactory sensors can be made much more effective by covering them with a polymer snot substitute.
It’s interesting to speculate on how people’s attitudes towards technology will be affected if some machines really do start to do more to imitate the attributes of living beings. I suspect that a lot of people who are otherwise comfortable with new technology would find the idea of a machine with characteristics of a living thing- and especially the “earthier” attributes of life, like body fluids- somewhat disturbing, even if a lot of them couldn’t articulate why.
I was looking at his blog because I actually just read