The April 11, 2017 edition of the Daily Mail Online has an article, reference the title of this article; but, an individual author was not identified. The publication notes that “the U.S. Navy is funding the development of a million dollar robot surveillance system that can spy on humans. Researchers from Cornell University are planning to create a system to enable teams of robots to share information as they move around and carry out surveillance — as a single entity…..with many eyes.” The publication adds that “a lump sum of $1.7M was handed over to researchers by the U.S. Office of Naval Research, which is dedicated to developing new forms of military and civilian technology.”
In the Statement of Work, The Navy is hoping that this research will ultimately result in “teams of surveillance robots,’ gathering intelligence, and interacting with each other — without human intervention — and re-position, etc., based on target activity. These artificially enhanced intelligent machines would also share their intelligence with each other; and, the customer/operator — ‘at the speed of light.” “Beyond surveillance,” the article notes, “the new technology might help when teams of robots relieve humans of dangerous jobs, like disposing of land mines; cleaning up after a nuclear meltdown; or, surveying the damage after a flood, or a hurricane.”
The futurist, Ray Kurzewil wrote “The Age Of Intelligent Machines,” in 1990, nearly three decades ago, and, we are now finally on the era of intelligent machines. Needless to say, artificially enhanced intelligent machines/robots/autonomous systems. And, these ‘machines’ are coming to a ‘battlefield’ near you. In the not too distant future, we’ll have these fully autonomous systems — at least the potential or option to be fully autonomous — in the air, on the land, and under the water. Having robots that can change color like a chameleon, or shape — like a sci-fi shapeshifter, activate based on target activity, go dormant, or hide if the adversary is searching for it, and so on — are moving from the movie theater — to reality. One can also envision a ‘mother’ robot, delivering/deploying her ‘babies,’ as miniature and micro robots of all shapes and sizes, resembling birds, insects, reptiles, etc., move into hostile, or denied areas/facilities to get the critical intelligence needed to perhaps stop a terrorist from building a weapon of mass destruction, or provide the key piece of intelligence that could save many lives. And yes, with the good — comes the bad. The darker angels of our nature will no doubt figure out a way and purpose for using these ‘machines,’ in clever and creative ways that we did not envision or anticipate.
Aldous Huxley wrote “Brave New World,” in 1931; and, it was later published in 1932. America was still deeply in the grip of The Great Depression. Brave New World was set far into the future, in the year 2540 in London; and, envisions a society where humans have lost their individuality and are part of the whole mass of humanity. George Orwell was influenced in his writing by Huxley’s book. But, neither man envisioned where it appears we’re heading now. With intelligent machines soon to leap ahead of humanity. Will humans and machines merge as Ray Kurzweil believes?, or will the machines ultimately rid themselves of mankind altogether? I believe the former; and, thankfully, we have a ‘few’ more years to get this right. In the meantime, drone warfare, and a battlefield of autonomous robots and super soldiers is getting closer to becoming reality — much sooner than many thought possible.
“Open the bay doors Hal!” Hal, open the bay doors!” V/R, RCP