The panelists reiterated the relevant discoveries that were new in 2004: growing organs in another location of recipient's own body (whether human or animal) -- while those discoveries weren't about growing a robot from biological cells, that could potentially be a potential future use. Modeling robots after roaches, rats, or other small animals that can pass through narrow spaces -- for example, to lay computer cables. Attaching sensors to a swarm of very small, fast, disposable robots the size of a grain of rice. What the state of artificial intelligence looked like in 2004, years before the significant advances made by neural nets -- not very promising. Our panelists thought that since our brain is wet and analog, we won't be able to simulate it in digital systems. Researchers are inspired to generate power from biological sources, because batteries running out are a common problem with robots, whereas a human body can do a whole lot on just a peanut butter sandwich.
At Linucon 2004 Eric Raymond gave a speech on the basic principles of the Unix philosophy. They are the same principles as described in the "Basics of the Unix Philosophy" chapter of Raymond's book "The Art of Unix Programming". Since the book is available online, I put a link to each rule so you could compare what's said in the book with what was said in the speech. He dwelled a little longer on each rule and gave more examples than he does in this chapter of the book. At the end of the speech he answered questions, some more, some less related to Unix philosophy. He also ranted on XML (after admitting not having an opinion about it) and expressed his opinion on Hurd.
Pictures from Linucon 2004 are in my photo gallery.