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Roomba or Doomba?

11.02.2009 (5:15 pm) – Filed under: Geek Blog

A recent episode of the Daily Show, featured an article about iRobot, no not the famous Issac Asimov novel, or even the disaster of a Will Smith movie they turned it into… no this iRobot belongs to the iRobot corporation. In their piece it showed how this company who made its name making automated vacuum cleaning robots, is now getting into the military market. At first glance it makes sense, why risk a human life going into a dangerous area first, when you can just send in a robot. Police have been doing it for a while only in those cases it was a remote controlled robot without any autonomy.

So why the big fuss? Well, not to take too much inspiration from Hollywood alone, but, a great number of movies have dealt with the idea of a war between man and machines, often leading to devastating consequences. Those apocalyptic blockbusters aside, there seem to be a great number of nagging questions as to why anyone would want robots to do the fighting for them. Realistically, if we progress to the point where both sides of a confrontation are using robots as soldiers, it begs the question why are you fighting at all? Perhaps we will go one step farther than that, and rather than waste expensive and costly robots, why not just settling your conflict over a game of Battlefront 8 or whatever combat simulation game is available at the time. If you still want robots doing the fighting, I am sure there will be some at least reasonable competent AI features to the game so that you only need join as a spectator to see which side will become victorious.

I mean really, come on people. If anything the cost of the Iraq war should show everyone, on all sides, that armed conflict does nothing but consume resources that could be better used to fighting any number of global problems such as climate change, hunger, energy, population growth, or solar exploration. While it is true that conflict and competition spur growth and innovation, you can have both of those things without advancing warfare to the point of sending armies of robots against each other, or worse, against Earth’s population.

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