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TrekToday - Data Inducted into Robot Hall of Fame

Data Inducted into Robot Hall of Fame

By Michelle
May 21, 2007 - 10:22 PM

Data has been celebrated in the Robot Hall of Fame, joining the Mars Pathfinder Rover, C-3PO and the LEGO Mindstorms robotic kit.

"This is the first time since we established the Robot Hall of Fame in 2003 that most of the inductees are real robots rather than those of science fiction," Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute director Matt Mason told Milwaukee's TMJ4. "As much as we love fictional robots such as Data, those of us in the robotics field take heart when the real accomplishments of our colleagues get this well-deserved recognition."

This year's other honorees, including the one-legged Raibert Hopper and the NavLab 5 self-steering vehicle, were announced at the fourth annual RoboBusiness Conference and Exposition at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. Lt. Cmdr.

"Data played a pivotal role on questions of robot 'right to life' matters and human/machine philosophies," said Australian National University's Intelligent Robotics Research Centre director Ray Jarvis. The character was portrayed in Star Trek: The Next Generation and several movies by actor Brent Spiner.

MSNBC's Cosmic Log noted that "Every addition to the Hall of Fame has sparked discussions over what exactly it means to be a robot. Is a robot any gizmo that can move things around? Do vacuum cleaners, computers and cars count?"

When it comes to Data, who famously had to defend android "humanity" in several Star Trek episodes, notably "The Measure of a Man" and "The Offspring", the jurors felt that despite Data's claims of not being a robot, the dilemma of how to define him was part of his appeal. Don Marinelli, executive producer of Carnegie Mellon's Entertainment Technology Center, said, "It's precisely because Data was not confined by real-world limitations that he could address philosophical questions, such as whether a machine can have rights."

The Robot Hall of Fame web site can be visited here.

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