A riddle for your amusement...
"But wait!" you exclaim, "What would a robot do with the flesh of man? Why would a robot want to eat anything?"
And In answer I explain, "For the same reason as any creature: to survive." Ladies and Gentlemen, our science is nearly there:
UK researchers have developed an autonomous robot with an artificial gut that enables it to fuel itself by eating and excreting. The robot is the first bot powered by biomass to be demonstrated operating without assistance for several days. Being self-sustaining would enable robots of the future to function unaided for long periods.
The robot, the Ecobot III, was developed by researchers at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory and will be presented at the Artificial Life conference in Denmark in August. The robot eats meals of partially processed sewage, using the nutrients within the mash for fuel and excreting the remains. It also drinks water to maintain power generation.
The robot navigates towards a dispenser filled with the nutrient-rich mixture and "eats" what it needs. The meal is then processed in the robot's body by bacteria held in a stack of two tiers, each with 24 microbial fuel cells (MFCs).
Okay, so, there's still a long way to go if we're going to build flesh-eating death machines, but that's just a refinement of the basic technology. Although, granted, I find it a little disrespectful to be referred to as a nutrient dispenser. Still, we can all look forward to a bright future in which we not only have to fear that our robotic minions will turn on us, but also that having done so they will proceed to consume our very flesh. And yet, still, the full horror of the situation hasn't yet been made known to you. Are you ready for the rest?
Director of Bristol Robotics Laboratory, Chris Melhuish, said MFCs had been tried before but an artificial gut was needed to solve the problem of previous models, which was that humans had to clean up the waste left by bacterial digestion. Melhuish said the robot was called Ecobot III, but admitted “diarrhea-bot would be more appropriate, as it’s not exactly knocking out rabbit pellets.”
Awesome. Not only are we building machines that can use us for foodstuffs, but when the end comes we won't be facing zombie robots, but incontinent zombie robots. Insult, meet injury.
If this is what the singularity looks like, I can wait.*
* All kidding aside, this is a neat, neat development and I'm really excited about it. The researchers should be pleased. I'm just funnin' is all.