As JQ is off for his really awesome Japanese adventure, I'll be continuing to post on this humble blog of nerdom...and we all wish for JQ to have a great time over there, and hope he'll bring back juicy tales about his geeky encounters in the Land of the Rising Sun! (plus, he's meeting his girlfriend there too)
Well, I recently re-watched the Matrix (the first movie) and man, it still captures my imagination and I am really surprised at how much information there was in that movie. I kinda forgot that the Oracle told Neo that he was not the One...not sure if you all knew that by heart, I am sure I didn't.
Speaking of the Matrix, aren't we seeing more and more robots in everyday life? Since the iconic Asimo, the Japanese have been developing a lot of robots that walk and even help care for the elderly...so much so that there's the running joke that they'll invent the Gundam first and rule the world.
The world-famous Asimo robot, capable of smooth walking and even playing soccer (digitalworldtokyo.com)
Recently, I bumped into this really interesting article on the New York Times about the US Army's effort in roboti-zing its units.
In the real world, robots are actually coming into the forefront of warfare, as we hear of Predators flying the skies in Iraq and Afghanistan, or robots disarming IEDs and saving soldiers from such devices. I guess this proliferation of robotic technology is fueled by drastic decreases in the cost of chip technology + rare earth magnets (it's just my gut feeling).
US Army's Big Dog, a weight bearing quadruped robot that will be tested soon in Afghanistan. (Scientific American)
USMC's Gladiator, armed with a SAW and grenade launchers, developed by Carnegie Mellon and it's controlled by a suit that is worn by a soldier. (militaryphotos.net)
Not surprisingly, these robots do not have humanoid forms...and do many things a human soldier can't: guard compounds without losing focus or going hungry/tired, do things without complaining/discipline issues, accurately aim weaponry without shaking from hands, carry loads tirelessly, follow rules of engagement to the letter etc. There is a lot of potential for military robots and they are a very promising and yet cost-effective advancement of military technology.
But for some, it does feel kinda creepy to have robots serving at the front...afterall I have been exposed to movies/shows like the Terminator, Matrix series, Battlestar Galactica etc. which predict that our over-dependence on machines can lead to our own destruction. Real-world A.I can still go awry and make mistakes (such as aim the gun at friendlies by mistake), they still make mistakes in killing innocent civilians (which is perhaps impossible to avoid)...and interestingly some foresee robots to be the next arms race as countries can mass produce robots and perhaps be more eager to engage in military conflicts.
What do you all think about the development of military robots? One thing for sure, it seems to me that it's pretty much inevitable that we'll see the on-going advancement of robot technology and I won't be surprised if the world 40 years from now will resemble what we have in Science-Fiction today (which also explains why I love sci-fi a lot).
Just a geeky sidenote: If you did watch the Animatrix, my favorite part was the Second Renaissance series, which provided a very believable timeline detailing humankind's use of robots in the future. It explained the tragic backstory behind the Matrix, where humans created robots, mistreated them and eventually went to war that effectively wiped out the humans and brought them gruesome slavery under the machines. Man, it makes pretty scary watching and what if it became true?
The devastating Machine War depicted in the Animatrix, image's kinda blurry but it shows gigantic robots (predecessors of the Sentinels) that are invulnerable to enemy fire and move to massacre human forces...(matrix.wikia.com)
A short video clip from Animatrix showing the disastrous Machine War (Operation Dark Storm).