Lets say that it's the year 2060 and robotics technology has advanced to the stage where autonomous, humanoid robots exist and are no longer considered an oddity. They still resemble machines but are able to walk, talk, and perform advanced tasks - I envision them resembling the bots seen in the movies Chappie and Elysium. They do not possess "real" Artificial Intelligence, but more an advanced Simulated Intelligence.

Given this level of technology, is it fair to assume that advanced cybernetics/prosthetics are also present? The development of a neural translator that is implanted at the base of the brain and converts signals sent by the motor function part of the brain into data that enables an artificial limb to move and function like an organic one.

Or would robotics and cybernetics be mutually exclusive technologies? With robotics being "mechanical" and the neural translator bridging the gap between biological and mechanical.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ You could argue either way. There is no clear answer here, you can do whatever you like for your world I believe. Also, you assume insane technological advancement that will not be possible in that short amount of time, so if there are any rules of scientific progress, they are different in your world anyways. $\endgroup$
    – Raditz_35
    Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 10:46
  • $\begingroup$ "Insane technological advancement". Really? Is it so insane to postulate semi-intelligent androids becoming a reality in ~40 years? $\endgroup$
    – AngelPray
    Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 12:55
  • $\begingroup$ I've done some small amount of research on humanoid robotics and there do seem to be vastly different opinions as to when this level of sophistication will be around. Estimates seem to be anywhere from 15 years to NEVER! I suppose it depends on technological breakthroughs. That's in terms of advanced robotics. Cybernetics seems to be almost there already! Some very interesting developments with BrainGate and combining it with neuroprosthetics. $\endgroup$
    – ZanderXL
    Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 14:14
  • $\begingroup$ For the record, "cybernetics" is the study of regulatory systems; think of it as a generalization of computer science, information technology and control theory. Robotics is a minor applied engineering sub-sub-subfield of cybernetics. The sentence "would robotics and cybernetics be mutually exclusive technologies" is utterly meaningless; for starters, neither of them is a technology. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 22:10

3 Answers 3


Not necessarily, no.

Robotics can be advanced massively by engineers with not one whit of biological or medical knowledge, to the point where you have true androids that have crossed the uncanny valley and look and behave very like real humans.

For Cybernetics you need to combine human biology and physiology with robotics, you need to bridge the gulf between hardware and wetware, for that you need a whole host of disciplines in addition to engineers, such as microbiologists, neurologists, immunologists and other physicians specializing in anatomical structure etc.

Yes, if that's what you want, but otherwise, no, one does not imply the other, they are separate but related fields.


Robotic human augmentation, yes; pseudo-cybernetics, probably; true machine-brain interface, almost certainly not

As pointed out by other users, any answer to this question is necessarily speculative. We can't know for certain in what direction technology will progress. That said, there is something that I don't think anyone else has considered yet: the difference between the hardware side of robotics and the software side of robotics.

Mechanical robotic technology has been advancing very rapidly in the last few years. We have everything from robotic dog/deer things to literal mech suits that can fight each other. We are building robots that range in size from cars and airplanes all the way down to golf balls and paper clips. My point is, from the mechanical perspective, I think human augmentation via robotic implants or assistance is very possible by 2060. In a way, we have even have cybernetic technology already.

However, there is another side to robotics: the software. Take, for example, DARPA's Atlas Robot project. Its come a long way, but when it was first launched it was a miracle of mechanical technology...with nearly no software to drive it. Its taken years of dedicated programming by dozens of programming teams to develop the software needed for it to do even simple things.

Now, take into account the complexity of the human brain. Right now we have huge amounts of trouble integrating Windows and Unix systems, and both of those are running on more-or-less the same hardware and both pieces of software were written (and documented) by people. The mind is orders of magnitude more complex, is completely alien when compared to our computer systems, and the universe didn't see fit to give us an instruction manual for it.

Let me put it another way:

I think that very soon we will have mechanical technology that is precise enough to be grafted into the human body; I think that very soon we will be able to build machines that can respond to nerve impulses; I think that very soon we will even have technology that will let us interface directly with the human mind. However, I think we are still very, very far away from understanding the output we get from the brain, let alone turning that into useful signals that can command computers and robots.


As Raditz_35 pointed out: You could argue either way. But:

The technologies do have a similar basis - the robotic parts, but cybernetic stuff has a lot more to do with making those things part of your body.

There is medical and neurological components, too. You can't just implant robotics into a person.

Currently the two fields are closely entertwined, but this would not have to be, as you could imagine cybernetics to be illegal.

To conclude: Without advanced robotics you can not build advanced cybernetics, but cybernetics is not something that simply follows robotics as there are lots of other things that come into play.


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