(Nanowerk News) The bionic man featured in a Channel 4 documentary this week may not be a realistic copy of a human - but robots prompt questions about what we want from our most sophisticated machines.
When the science fiction film Blade Runner was released, a future in which androids would be almost indistinguishable from humans seemed just decades away, writes Channel 4 News Technology Producer Geoff White.
Director Ridley Scott's envisioning of Philip K Dick's novel imagined such a reality by 2019 (already pushing back Dick's timeline by almost 30 years).
Compared to the "replicants" of Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the bionic man set to go on display at the Science Museum this week looks, aesthetically, light years behind the times.
Rex, as he's called, has been put together by an expert team for a forthcoming Channel 4 documentary 'How to Build a Bionic Man' - in an effort to show just how far prosthetic science has advanced.
Rex has a convincingly human face, but from the neck down he's all robot. In fairness, the project's aim was not to create a humanoid replica, but to demonstrate that vital human systems can be mimicked by man-made technology.
Artificial blood circulates in Rex's veins, and his heart, lung and kidney are miracles of biotechnology. But let's face it: one cannot imagine Rutger Hauer's heartbreaking Blade Runner soliloquy coming from Rex's clamped lips.