THE TRANSHUMANIST SCRAPBOOK: AVATARS AND ROBOT SURROGATES FOR SOLDIERS
In the diabolical alchemy that is transhumanism in most of its manifestations, the latest incarnation of insanity to come out of our friends at the Diabolically Apocalyptic Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, (again, my thanks to Mr. J.B. for that wonderful phrase), is the idea that soldiers should be given avatar robots to do the actual fighting:
"In the movie Avatar, humans hooked themselves up to brain-machine-interface pods with which they could control giant genetically engineered human-alien hybrids. It's just a movie, but DARPA, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, doesn't care: It wants this kind of system to be real, just replace "giant genetically engineered human-alien hybrids" with "robots."
"In its 2013 budget, DARPA has decided to pour US $7 million into the "Avatar Project," whose goal is the following: "develop interfaces and algorithms to enable a soldier to effectively partner with a semi-autonomous bi-pedal machine and allow it to act as the soldier’s surrogate.” Whoa.
"That word "surrogate" implies something more than just telepresence, and indeed DARPA does specify that it is looking for "key advancements in telepresence and remote operation of a ground system." But we're perfectly free to speculate on what those "key advancements" are, which again comes back to "surrogate." To me, the implication is that there's going to be some technology that effectively puts the user "inside" the remote system, whether it's through immersive VR or exoskeleton or some sort of direct brain control. Either of these things is a realistic possibility, especially if DARPA's tossing a couple million at the problem." (Emphasis in the original)
Again, this transhumanist impulse forces us to consider the moral implications, and in this case, they appear to me to be twofold: one military, and one of a wider social nature. The military one seems rather obvious: will this technology make wars less horrible, and therefore, even more of a regular factor than they are now? Already the moral implications of remote controlled drones is highlighting the problem: sitting in an isolated booth, directing a drone to attack and kill certain people, among them the inevitable "collateral damage" of innocents in the area, and destruction of the property of innocents, is much easier in the "video game" atmosphere that the drone technology affords. One is not up and close and personal with the smell and blood and horrible reality of the consequences of war. It becomes less horrible, less human. But what if both combatants have access t such technologies? Was fought between surrogate robots will be even more of a game, and even "more less horrible," if I may be permitted that oxymoronic construction.
And like all such technological advances which begin in the military sphere, they inevitably "trickle down" into human society. Imagine being able to sit in your house (or bunker), while controlling your robot to go out and do any physical shopping or errand running that remains to be done in the age of online shopping and home delivery (by drones, incidentally). Or to have your robot interacting with your friend's robot, rather than going to take a walk and talk with your friend. Already we see the dehumanizing consequences of the internet and emails, and for those of us who make our living with computers, a sedentary lifestyle. A movie has even been made around this concept with Bruce Willis, and the social and cultural consequences aren't pretty.
And the real problem? Well, if you';re like me, whenever certain agencies, corporations, groups, or even movies, start talking about such things, my first thought is that it means it already has been done in that covert world, of which agencies like DARPA are but the public relations offices.
See you on the flip side...
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