Of all the Hollywood visions of the future that could end up coming true, you have to hope that the Terminator films will not be among them. Is there anything more terrifying than an invulnerable robot blowing people away with a sawn-off shotgun while uttering "Hasta la vista baby" in an Austrian accent?
Well, as always the military and scientific communities are on the fast track to making such a nightmare a distinct possibility. In a joint venture, the British MOD and the US Carlyle Group (close ties to the BUSH FAMILY) have developed a series of tactical robot soldiers called SWORDS - Special Weapons Observation Reconnaissance Detection Systems (read more about them HERE). The US military is already planning to deploy 18 of the one-metre high killing machines in Iraq within the next few months.
The robots are operated by soldiers near the battlefield using video-game style controls. Work is currently under way to enhance the experience by adding "virtual-reality goggles", confirms one enthusiastic engineer.
"It's a premonition of things to come" says www.globalsecurity.org director Jonathan Pike. "It makes sense. These things have no family to write home to. They're fearless. You can put them places you'd have a hard time putting a human soldier in".
Scientists meanwhile are working on ways to graft living tissue onto robotic skeletons. Recently, scientists at the University of California Los Angeles have successfully combined muscle tissue from rats onto robotic parts, creating small "bio-bots" that could move on their own. "They're absolutely alive" says the Project Leader, Professor Montemagno. "I mean the cells actually grow, multiply and assemble - they form the structure themselves. So the device is alive".
Cut to Terminator 3. Kate Brewster "So what's his story then?" John Connor "He's a robot from the future. Living tissue over a metel skeleton. He means you no harm".
This is a very scary article. In some ways, robot soldiers would be good - it means that our boys won't need to risk their lives to defend their country anymore (or nowadays, to defend the interests of the Oil business), and no soldier would be killed, disabled, psychologically screwed up, or subjected to torture or imprisonment. Instead they'd be holed up in armoured vehicles with their VI masks on, seemingly playing video games - sheltered from the horror of actally killing a human being thanks to the digitization of the whole act thru a Playstation-esque video screen. I guess all those hours in front of the X-Box can be valuable after all!!!!
But in other ways it's very scary. A robotic army will do as it is told. Without compassion, reason, rationale, or considering all the facts and evidence. To quote Kyle Reese from Terminator 1:
"Listen! And understand! That terminator is out there. It can't be bargained with! It can't be reasoned with! It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead!"
- A robot army would do the bidding of it's master, whether that master's bidding is for good or for evil.
- It would round up human beings desperately trying to rise up against the unjustice and oppression, human beings opposing its master's will - whether that will be for good or for bad - and it would wipe them out without a second thought.
- It would be invulnerable to attacks barring some serious weaponry that would probably be impossible to obtain
- It would be equipped with the most accurate tracking devices that would mean nobody could hide from it.
- And it would not need to be paid, or fed, or have thousands spent on its training.
- It would not sue for mental distress, or for disablement in the line of duty, it would not oppose orders that it knew were morally wrong, it would not write letters to the Free Press talking of bodged orders, lack of body armour, and voicing it's disillusionment at the reasons it was fighting.
Lastly, what if it is embued with the power of Artificial Intelligence, so it would ultimatly learn and think for itself? We are *this close* to becoming the very same people we watch on our movie screens, fleeing and screaming from the robots that will hunt us down and blow us to pieces. I believe that the US military will push ahead with this plan and spend untold billions on making it a reality - in which case I wish for the same outcome as the TERMINATOR films - complete annhilation of the human race, so we can all start over, learn from our mistakes, and never let madness like this happen again.
In the meantime, are we now meant to gag all our sci-fi filmmakers and script writers, whose ideas to entertain us may soon be killing us?