Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Bots on the Ground (pun intended)

Via Instapundit:

Humans have long displayed an uncanny ability to make emotional connections with their manufactured helpmates. Car owners for generations have named their vehicles. In "Cast Away," Tom Hanks risks his life to save a volleyball named Wilson, who has become his best friend and confidant. Now that our creations display elements of intelligence, however, the bonds humans forge with their machines are even more impressive. Especially when humans credit their bots with saving their lives. [snip]

Ted Bogosh recalls one day in Camp Victory, near Baghdad, when he was a Marine master sergeant running the robot repair shop.

That day, an explosive ordnance disposal technician walked through his door. The EODs, as they are known, are the people who -- with their robots -- are charged with disabling Iraq's most virulent scourge, the roadside improvised explosive device. In this fellow's hands was a small box. It contained the remains of his robot. He had named it Scooby-Doo.[snip]

Nonetheless, Ehrhard worries that a bot "completely changes the human role" in warfare. "That is not lost on these people," he says. "Part of what a society has to do to sacrifice lives is make it heroic. Do you see the dilemma? It's a fundamental dilemma. Look at what we do for the military. Give them uniforms, great burials, medals. I'm retired and people still call me colonel. It's all out of respect for what you have done. How do robots change that?"

Click here to the read the rest.

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