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Ivan Kirigin's views on Robotics & Culture: future. perfect. progress.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Wired on Military Robots

Interesting article. Particularly interesting is reference to the now weaponized TALON robots by Foster Miller. I would love to see more and more dangerous duties normally assigned to humans going to robots. Also, from the corporate site: "'Time' Magazine Recognizes Weaponized TALON Robot as one of the 'Most Amazing Inventions of 2004'". I think that makes sense, as long as the bot is useful. Tele-operation is very hard to make intuitive, so I find it hard to believe this current form of bot could replace ground troops, but it will help. Then again, video-games are ripe with dexterous tele-operation, but that might fit the saying "simulation is doomed to succeed".

On a side note, it is quite annoying the way an article about any robot that is for the military makes a reference to 'Terminator', and any robot for productivity gains yields an article mentioning unemployment. Recently the Instapundit, Glenn Reynolds, wrote about dealing with a robot to take care of his phone service. I would call it an 'AI' not a 'robot' because it isn't physically instantiated, but he makes the point related to unemployment:
Efficiency. Although, as I mentioned above, a dull job was lost to the robot, I got to spend more time at my money-making job (writing a column for the Wall Street Journal, as it happens, though not on outsourcing, which would have been just too much of a coincidence) instead of waiting on hold. My wife, who uses the fax for her business, was able to send bills out to clients. And, overall, the sand-in-the-gears effect of dealing with customer service was reduced. Writ large, this kind of efficiency may well produce more new jobs in the aggregate than the automation replaces, though I don't know how you'd determine that. But it probably bears thinking about, because of the next point. We're going to see a lot more of this.


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