Robots as People
This article is operating under the assumption that robots will always "be" robots; meaning that there will always be that something missing that makes them non-human. For the most part, we defer to their inability to self-replicate, self-repair, and lack of emotions as limiters to being "human" in nature. However, what happens when synthetic lifeforms are capable of these things? If you think about it, we are nothing more than biological computers in self-repairing mobile carriers. What then becomes of the android that can do the same? What happens when we create organic computing, materials that can repair themselves, and computers with learning capabilities? When the created becomes like the creator where is the distinction between the two?
Here is the interesting reality. We are already moving towards those goals. Look at IBM's Watson - beat everyone in Jeopardy. I suppose I would too if I had the entire Internet as my encyclopedia and could access it in mere nanoseconds. Scientists have created materials that can repair themselves. We are growing organs in labs with 3D printers. We have organic LEDs and will soon have organic transitors. As we further decode DNA, we will begin to understand its programming language further and use it to manipulate proteins to do what we want. There is also a scientist who has created synthetic DNA, called XNA. We are modifying viruses to deliver payloads we want without the ugly pathology usually associated with those same viruses. The line between the real and the synthesized is blurring and it is only a matter of time before we have androids like in the "Alien" series or Data from Star Trek. And, the most interesting part in that Star Trek's series was Data's eternal mission - to be more like humans. Up until he got his emotion chip, he was clearly a robot. But, after getting his emotion chip there wasn't much to separate him from real humans. As such, in that series' writing he was regarded as a person. In fact, it was Data's emotion chip that caused him the most dilemmas.
Maybe robots won't want to be like us.