EARLIER this week, this newspaper carried a highly-colourful account of the appearance in Bolton of a walking, talking, eight-foot tall robot called Titan.

According to the well-written report and equally impressive pictures, Titan thrilled crowds of shoppers, who were hugely impressed by its performance, which even included singing songs and giving public speeches. Well, I’ll go to the foot of our stairs.

Among reporter Saiqa Chaudhari’s descriptive paragraphs was one which, not surprisingly, indicated that this mechanical marvel could have come straight out of the Terminator movies, though there was no suggestion that Titan was afflicted with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s accent, a curious mixture of Austrian and American.

Incidentally, for anyone who may have spent the past umpteen years locked in a darkened room, Mr Schwarzenegger, who played The Terminator, graduated from being Mr Universe, the world’s most physically-developed man, into a hugely-paid film star before he metamorphosed, yet again, into the Governor of California.

It was the reference to The Terminator which struck a note of alarm inside my sub-conscious as only recently I read an article in which experts in the field of robot development were expressing concern that the advance of cybernetics might not be as beneficial to the human race as scientists hoped and intended.

The inference was that Titans of the not too distant future could very well evolve minds of their own and become rogue robots, similar to The Terminator and others featured in a number of contemporary films.

This is not to suggest that the friendly, brilliantly-designed metal giant who charmed his way around Bolton town centre last weekend is about to malfunction and start chucking cars at crowds of shoppers or warning “I’ll be back” when an obliging desk sergeant at the local cop shop tells him the woman he is seeking isn’t on the premises.

However, computer systems seem to have already taken over the world and it can’t be that long before the need for human involvement becomes unnecessary, thus ushering in the brave new dawn when machines do all the work and people enjoy permanent holidays, although what we will do for money I’ll leave to Bernard Madoff and Sir Alan Stanford.

The military of several countries are already talking of vast armies of robot soldiers who can be sent into battle. Some of the most sophisticated weaponry is guided from launch to target by computer technology. It is this march into the relative unknown which is causing apprehension among certain computer and robot boffins, for whom the nightmare scenario of The Terminator movies are far from being computer-generated images on film. The fear such images could very well be real in the not too distant future.

There are beneficial effects, too, of course, from computer advancement, particularly in the field of medical science. And the Japanese, who seem particularly adept at producing “metal mickeys”, have for some years had access to robotic servants who undertake chores around the house, such as washing up, putting out the trash and walking the dog. We have something similar here in Bolton, only we call them husbands.