Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

War and Robots

The Northrop Grumman X-47 - an unmanned aerial combat vehicle. Image Source: Defense Industry Daily.

We tend to think of robots as anthropomorphized machines.  In fact, the big advances in robotics are coming out of the defense industry, and robots are currently being built as doppelgänger of our weapons - not of us. Time is reporting on Post-Postmodern war and the new soldier robots:
Here's some surprising news about the war in Afghanistan: 1 in every 50 troops in the country is a robot. The use of robots in combat isn't a new thing - consider the use of bomb-disposal robots or drone planes throughout the years - but according to CNN, there are also robots that exist just to get shot at, and robots that don't need much human input to get the job done. ... The X-47B, according to CNN, "requires almost no human interaction. It can take off and land by itself... It will be able to find its target by itself. The only thing it needs a carbon-based life form for [u]s to let it know it's OK to drop the bomb." The terrifying almost-automated death machine flew its first test flight in February, and is expected to complete its three-year test program with sea trials in 2013 to demonstrate its ability to autonomously refuel in mid-flight.
There are other vehicles in this class that have been or are being developed with varying degrees of success: the Lockheed Martin Polecat; the General Atomics Avenger; the Boeing X-45; the MiG Skat; the Dassault nEUROn; the BAE Taranis; and the EADS Barracuda.

The third variety of weaponized robot in Dick's Second Variety. Image Source: Project Gutenberg.

But, as Gilliam said, Philip K. Dick got there first.  Dick's famous 1953 science fiction piece, Second Variety, speculated on what would happen if unmanned weaponized robots got out of control and started manufacturing themselves. Starting with rudimentary burrowing and whirling weapons called 'claws,' the story culminates in the machine-sourced construction of three versions (perhaps more) of android soldiers, the second variety of which is not yet unidentified by embattled humans. The revelation of the second type of android robot is one of the most eerie passages I have ever read. You can read the story online at Project Gutenberg here.

The Terminator franchise adapted themes from Second Variety. The 1995 movie Screamers adapted Dick's story for cinema. The Screamers clip below shows an attack on a military base by the third variety of android, a robot-built artificial small child that approaches encampments and says, "Can I come with you?"

From Screamers (1995) © Triumph Films. Video Source: Youtube.

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