Friday, February 4, 2011

RDF 2: The Hidden Danger

We're Doomed.
This week on Robo-Defense Fridays we go into the form factor of robots. When most people think of robots coming to take over the world they think of bipedal, humanoid robots. Two legs attached to a torso, which in turn has two arms and a head attached by the neck. Issac Asimov proposed a reason for this in some of his stories. Our society is set up with tools, transportation and utilities intended for use by bipeds. Robots could be constructed specifically for each task, with each new task requiring years of research, development and construction, or society could build robots with the ability to use our current infrastructure, which means bipeds.

Enter SkyNet
People are inherently wary of bipedal robots. We've all seen what happens when you let them get out of hand. (See left for precursor to death) Humanoid robots are also getting realistic enough that they are beginning to fall into the uncanny valley. They just feel wrong at an instinctual level. Where the real danger rests is in the networked systems and autonomous, non-humanoid robots. Insidious little guys like the AR-Drones. Because they don't look human, we don't have the same level of distrust toward them. There are even systems being put into place now that will let robots interface with a central database to download the programming they need on their own. Who thought that was a good idea? I don't know, but I'd like to introduce him to John Conner or William Adama.

Aww. Look at the cute, little deathbot.
Luckily, right now these mechanical threats are easy enough to deal with. AR Drones can be broken with your hand. Most robots can be taken out by a simple weapon (baseball/cricket bat.) But the days of such easy fixes are dwindling. As we speak, suicidal scientists are trying to develop new weapons and capabilities for the machines to use against us. There will be other methods developed to fight them. We will survive, but you must remain ever vigilant. Stay on your guard. Use technology, but never lose your suspicion. It will keep you alive.

Admiral William Adama.
A man who knew the dangers of networked robots.

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