Every few years, the eternally resurgent question of whether humans or robots should be adopted for space exploration is dusted off, with arguments on both sides leading nowhere. I argue that this debate is misplaced-there is a well-defined distribution of tasks across humans and the machine, and this distribution is of an evolutionary nature. This article uses a variety of examples to illustrate where robotic capabilities are most appropriate and where human attributes cannot be dispensed with. It further suggests that, even as robotics and artificial intelligence are becoming more sophisticated, they will not be able to deal with 'thinking-on-one's-feet' tasks that require generalisations from past experience. Given the current and perceived status of robotics research, I submit that there will be a critical role for humans in space for the foreseeable future.

Additional Metadata
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0265-9646(03)00014-6
Journal Space Policy
Citation
Ellery, A. (2003). Humans versus robots for space exploration and development. Space Policy, 19(2), 87–91. doi:10.1016/S0265-9646(03)00014-6