Transhumanist

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:

DARPA Wants to Give Soldiers Robot Surrogates, Avatar Style

"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...

8 thoughts on “THE TRANSHUMANIST SCRAPBOOK: AVATARS AND ROBOT SURROGATES FOR SOLDIERS”

  1. Calamitous Ignoramus

    The moral argument you’re making is built upon an emotional distance measure. That is, because in using drones we separate ourselves from killing through the use of remote control systems then therefore a transition to full telepresence would separate us emotionally from military killing even more. Making wholesale slaughter, supposedly, that much easier.

    But as history shows, distance to wholesale slaughter hasn’t limited killing before. Those wielding a sword killed just as willingly as those with a joystick. Technology makes mass killing easier. But I don’t think it eases the psychological impact of war. In so far as historical precedent shows genocide even by machete in Rwanda, much less the concentration camps of Nazi Germany. That’s as in your face as it gets. And if humanity can do that in person, how much more brutal can killing by telepresence make a soldier?

  2. Along the same lines of this is an ai fused with a human. There was a show on CBS last year, I think it was called intelligence, starring Josh Halloway, from lost, as the main character featuring that premise. However, I think the show struck too close to the diabolical home and was taken off air mid season as per the government’s orders. First a bit about the show, so Holloway became an agent of US cyber command after being killed/badly injured as a spec ops agent and they brought him back to life by fusing him with an ai. This enabled him to become a super agent of sorts with all the hallmark traits one would expect, superior strength, ability to interface and hack electronics, basically having a computer in his head giving him super intelligence etc. There was also a transcendental, altered reality/consciousness component to the show as an underlying theme, in addition to the motif of him being a new Adam, and his female nemesis being the new Eve. The show was doing pretty well prior to the usual holiday break that they all take. However it didn’t return with any new episodes when the rest of the new programming did. It just disappeared, there was basically no announcement of its cancelation, no press, nothing. Now its pretty damn rare for a high profile, big budget show to be cancelled mid season. Normally they’ll film an entire season and have it wrapped before its aired, so the episodes were already made, but only the first 9 were released. Were any of you fans of the show? Anyone think I’m right about the forced cancellation?

  3. The US army doesn’t need robots, they already have them, just watch the first 30 minutes of the Hollywood geopoliticalnightmaremovie “Full Metal Jacket”.
    There you will see in all it’s glory, young Americans being changed into killing machines, all be it in the name of “defending home soil”.

  4. Robert Barricklow

    On biology the have the parasites that take control of an organism’s mind, and use it to propagate their parasitic species. The mire sophisticated and “purposely engineered” the more difficult to tell from either the observer, or the observed.
    To me this represents the deja-vu crude beginnings to an end, that perhaps has happened in a galaxy far, far, away in the past. But the past becomes present faster than light and the deja-vu “feeling” may be, but one of many, tell-tale sinister signs that “control” in the eyes of the beholder.

  5. The Krell had completed the project. But they forgot monsters from the ID. Cyclons, Daleks, Terminators, Borgs welcome to the World of the mad scientists of the tapped thrillers enjoy the roller coaster ride.

    1. Thanks for the link Saknussemm the movie is loosely based on Karl Kapak RUR Robson Universal Robots novel. But in the novel it’s the robots that revolt and win.

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