If you've been comforting yourself with the thought that Megatron can't take over the world and turn us into slaves to his robotic whims because he doesn't exist, you may want to have a word or two with the CTO of Intel, Justin Rattner. Why? Because he spent his keynote address at last week's Intel Developer Forum telling a terrified audience that Intel is already at work creating intelligent robots that can change their shape.Talking last Thursday, Rattner unveiled his plan to use Intel's vast technological empire to create real-life Decepticons:

He explained that Intel researchers are working to figure out how to harness millions of miniature robots, called catoms, so they could function as shape-shifting swarms. "What if those machines had a small amount of intelligence, and they could assemble themselves into various shapes and were capable of movement or locomotion?" he said. "If you had enough of them, you could create arbitrary shapes and have the assembly of machines that could take on any form and move in arbitrary ways." The basic idea is that the catoms, which one day should be about the size of a grain of sand, could be manipulated with electromagnetic forces to cling together in various 3D forms. Rattner said that Intel has been expanding on research work done by Seth Goldstein, an associate professor at Carnegie Mellon University. "We're actually doing it for real," Rattner said. He added that Intel started "at the macro scale," with catoms that were "inches across." The robots had microprocessors associated with them and could attract or repel one another via electromagnetism or the use of electrostatic charges, according to Rattner. "It's programmable matter," he said.

Sure, it's programmable now, but just wait - All it takes is one of those things to get exposed to the All-Spark, and then... well, you know what's about to happen.

Intel's Future: Real Transformers and Power by Wi-Fi [PCWorld]