Isaac, writer of I robot, Bicentennial ma, the last great question and creator of the three rules of robotics is perhaps the true godfather of robotic advancement. We see Droids working with humans in the manufacturing world, healthcare, and even cleaning up our own messes. Though still a far cry from the Rosie or C3-POs of poplar media. There is one place though that robotics ventures that too few have put deep thought into. Were talking the world of nanites.
While the use of nanites IS becoming more used in film, and comics, it's also becoming looked into with more hope and excitement in the medical world than people realize. Nanites are basically microscopic robots. Their size is tiny, think along the lines of a virus- or other structures smaller than a single blood cell. Nanites open up the idea that a person injected with a micro army could be treated for a myriad illnesses by a tireless army that themselves cannot be infected or destroyed. They could help mend bone, or other damaged tissues, slowly and safely remove clots and other aspects of a cluttered circulatory system.
There is also another use, one still played with on a fantasy level, though one I see as just as vital a step. The ability to change an individual. Anyone who has known a trans woman, or man see first hand the difficulty they face. Out of all sides of the GLBT community the trans gendered are often the most misunderstood and face trials most of us can't even dream of. This is all before they start a transition! The actual process itself is expensive, takes years, is often very painful and runs many risks. Nanites could be the savior.
Imagine this: An individual is about to transition from a male to female. Nanites could first be introduced to adjust, and micro manage hormone levels, lowering or raising the amount of estrogen produced. As the individual adjusts themselves and adapts to it the Nanites switch to repair mode, adjusting the individuals brain and reproductive glands to producing the “ proper” hormone one a natural balance is reached.
Next they would split into groups, some set to maintain the individuals health while some split off to deal with soft tissue, others hard tissue. By this I say rebuilding the individual from the inside out. Hard tissue nanites set to work like masons, breaking down and shaping bone in ways a surgeon never could have dreamed, altering the face, shoulders, hips and any other skeletal bits. The soft tissue nanites set to work accelerating breast growth, re-distributing fat and muscle as needed all the way to perhaps rebuilding a fully functional reproductive system “ with the aid of the bodies own healing functions, of course the brain not thinks to “ repair” the body differently.
While this is an extreme example, the cosmetic applications are endless; Treating hair loss, weight issues, even altering a individuals skin pigment to “ unnatural hues “ without need of a tattoo needle. Perhaps these changes could take months, perhaps they could in the far future be almost instantaneous. Perhaps one day the nanites may even be able to read the brain in a way to allow us to communicate with them and form a human/robotic symbiosis.