Saturday, March 18, 2006
Humans: We're Just Better.
The debate between robots and humans in space is a false dichotomy. It's another example of the tyranny of either-or thinking.
First, robots do science well but humans and robots together do science better. Despite all the advances we've seen in computer and robotic technology, humans are still better. Here's a visual example of the superiority of astronauts over robots.
These first two photos were taken by Neil Armstrong on the Apollo 11 mission.
(Photos credit: NASA, and links here and here.)
They show a crater about 60 meters from the landing site and a view of the landing site. Armstrong took the photos when he disappeared for about 3 minutes. Remember that number: 3 minutes.
To the left is a photo taken by the Mars Rover, Spirit. (Photo credit, NASA/JPL, and link here.) It's a panorama taken about 100 meters from the landing site. It was taken about a month after the rover left its lander.
What a human took 3 minutes to find and photograph, a robot took 30 days.
Humanity's robots are doing great science and exploration throughout the Solar System. But humans could do much more. Let's send both, shall we?
UPDATE: We first heard this comparison made by a fellow panelist in a discussion on Mars exploration here in San Diego. He was then, and still is, a scientist on the Mars robotic missions.
Technorati: NASA, Science, space.
The whole robots vs humans debate is childish, IMO. Like you said, lets send both.
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