It is a goal in life to stay positive, to say yes, to Amor Fati (love your fate, for your fate is your life). Face the whole show like a hero, an everyday hero on the heroic journey. Don’t whither. Be strong. Regroup and continue.
That said, it bothers me that the edge of science and technology seems to be so often driven, powered and paid for by some of the most base and deplorable human instincts: in this case terrifying, anonymous killing in war.
Believe me, “build it and he will come” is true. In this case it means “Build [war machines] and [war] will come.”
The breakthrough? The fastest land speed robot ever is being developed, according to this BBC report. Traveling 18 miles and hour as a headless cheetah, this is nearly five miles an hour faster than the previous record holder, a 13.1 mph clod-hopper. It’s function? Killing.
And yes, some of these technological ideas will definitely be used to improve prosthetics (which has largely evolved out of war injuries, anyway). And I’m sure there will be other uses.
But here’s a couple of ugh-inducing pro statements on it from the BBC article:
Darpa [the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agencys] said that the project was part of efforts to develop robots designed to “more effectively assist war fighters across a greater range of missions”.
Noel Sharkey, professor of artificial intelligence and robotics at the University of Sheffield said the latest achievement was very impressive.
“With faster than human speed, this is a step in the development of a high speed killer that could negotiate a battlefield quickly to hunt and kill,” he said.
“The biggest concern about this is that no artificial intelligence system can distinguish between civilians and enemy combatants, and so if this was operating on its own it would fall foul of the laws of war.”
Try that at home and send out a press release and see what happens: My name is Darryl, and I’ve almost developed “…a high speed killer that could negotiate a battlefield quickly to hunt and kill…[but can't seem to] distinguish between civilians and enemy combatants.” We would find that hideous—hopefully. And of course, some arms-wanting country would pay you tens of millions. The most frightening of sci-fi films are coming true. Although one can’t help but wonder if the films are put out first, to ease the entry of the real thing.