Disney's Tomorrowland has been a showcase for new technology. Honda's ASIMO is the result of 20 years' research into robot mobility. The robot was demonstrated for us at Tomorrowland. ASIMO follows instructions, recognises faces, negotiates stairs and dances. With its backpack and helmet-like head, it looks (intentionally?) like a Space traveller. From the Enchanted Tiki Room to Star Tours, Disneyland has always featured robots.
Today's search for supernovae is mostly conducted by machines. The Hubble Space Telescope, and even many Earth-based telescopes, operate automatically. Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys produced images of milllions of galaxies. Only a computer could search through all these images to locate supernovae. Human contribution was limited to programming the computers and telescopes, not coming up with original theories.
Machines still break down and need fixing. Currently Hubble's ACS is down, possibly indefinitely. Other items on Hubble are already scheduled to be repaired on the next servicing mission. That mission is currently scheduled to launch September 11, 2008. It will be the last flight of shuttle Atlantis.
Researchers live in dread of losing grants, tenure or position. Someday robots will be able to replace most cosmologists. They will regurgitate anything programmed into them, even strings and "dark energy." They will write unoriginal papers which will be automatically cited many times, ensuring them safe positions.
The fastest and sleekest computers are simply number-crunchers. The human mind, due to some process that no one can understand, can think of original ideas. Computers may never be able to come up with new Theories on their own. Humans: if you want to ensure your own future, be original.