by Russ McSpadden / Carbon-based humanoid correspondent for the King Ludd & John Connor Institute of Anti-Technology
[The text of this work is free to share and distribute under the following Creative Commons License CC-BY-ND 3.0]
Genetically Modified Catnip Won’t Save You
The Pentagon has announced that it is currently investigating new mobility technologies that include a robo-cheetah that has already surpassed the fastest recorded speed of any human on Earth. According to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) the Cheetah-droid is fast enough to run down Usain Bolt who set the world speed record for a human in 2009 when he reached 27.78 mph. The Cheetah was recently clocked at 28.3 mph and is expected, following a series of upgrades, to run much faster. In fact, it is now the fastest four-legged machine in history and it’s a predator.
But don’t worry, as the saying will soon go, “You don’t need to run faster than the fastest blood-thirsty military grade nano-titanium hell beast, you just need to run faster than the slowest flesh bag next to you.”
So why is the Pentagon throwing money at this piece of death forged in cat shaped steel? DARPA says the chrome-kitty will “contribute to emergency response, humanitarian assistance and other defense missions” over difficult terrain that “demands the use of legs, as legs can step over both high obstacles and deep ditches,” adding “what we gain through Cheetah and related research efforts are technological building blocks that create possibilities for a whole range of robots suited to future Department of Defense missions.” Besides humanitarian aid it will probably also be used to drag people to the tops of telephone poles where it will eat them, innards first.
Two Brains Forced to Interface Through Invasive Technologies Across Great Distances Are Better Than One
As a kid, did you ever lay back in the grass in your yard and stare up at the stars and imagine what it would be like to go there, to travel in a space ship to distant worlds, to wield a laser gun and to, um, force wires into the brains of two live rats so as to create a brain-to-brain interface that enables them to engage in the realtime sharing of sensorimotor information? Yeah, me either, except for the space travel and lasers that is. But there was that one kid. Remember him? Well he’s all grown up and still torturing helpless critters but this time as a honored member of the techno-industrial nightmare. Duke neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis, a pioneer in the field of brain-machine interfaces (BMIs) recently unveiled an experiment that, while seemingly simple on the surface, has incredible implications in the realm of military technology and other creepy dystopian futuristic shit.
Here is what he did. According to Nicolelis his team basically “created a new central nervous system made of two brains.” By placing an invasive brain implant into one rat they were able to record activity from that rat’s motor cortex and convert it into an electrical signal that was then delivered via neural link to the brain implant of a second rat. The second rat then used that information successfully to complete a behavioral task that the first rat had to try several times to complete. The memory and experience of the one informed the other and over great distances. In the experiment, rat one was in Brazil and rat two was in North Carolina.
Nicolelis argues that the application of this technology might allow for an infinite number of brain melds into a central “brain net” or “an organic computer.” It’s hard to predict the kinds of emergent technologies that may follow but you can bet Facebook is poised to allow brain sharing and you know your friends will “like” it.
Another creep, Patrick Degenaar of Newcastle University in the UK predicts that the military will one day be able to build on this f-ed up science project to deploy genetically modified insects and mammals controlled by the brains of remote human operators: bio-drones. Seriously, genetically modified fucking bio-drones that can feed themselves and could be used for surveillance and assassinations? “You’d probably need a flying bug to get near the head [of someone to be killed],” he says.
Obamacare for Microchips
It looks like those no good shiftless robots are getting an evolutionary upgrade at the teats of big government again. In another government funded research project through DARPA, engineers at Caltech have developed a computer chip that can heal its own injuries.
Researchers, noting the weakness of microchips with specialized pathways that collapse under a single fault, created a chip with thousands of pathways. To test the ability of the chip to heal broken pathways the team used a laser to blast vast stretches of transistors, then watched as the systems recalibrate. Using some shit called an application-specific integrated-circuit (ASIC) processor, the chip “learned” which pathways were injured and adjusted its processes to healthy routes. This new technology, according to Scientific America is more comparable to the human brain than an electric circuit. With over 100,000 methods of delivery, anything short of a catastrophic attack on the microchip could be overcome, making it one hell of a robust little processor. Its a huge leap in machine evolution.
Should DARPA see fit to outfit the robo-cheetah with self healing micro-processors, um, actually, let’s not think about that. Why would the government do something like that?
I Prefer My Shitty Country Music Without Robots
There is just something obvious about creepy scientists tucked away in corporate laboratories creating the machines that will eventually spell the doom of humankind. It’s inevitable and well, the idea of a thousand year war against the cyber-progeny of our own genocidal species, which we surely lose, has a certain viscous poetry to it. It’s not a pretty idea but it certainly isn’t a shocking idea. Of the recent insults to good ole fashioned bio-critters on Earth–I’m thinking species extinction, the concretification of the wild, leaf-blowers and liberal green-washing–it is perhaps the little things, the trite things, that stick in my crawl the worst.
In no particular order here are two recent insults in the early history of the robot culture wars.
1) The Eli Young Band’s sci-fi country song that features all the same shitty and boring tropes of bad country wrapped up in some sort of robot sentimentalism.
2) The robo-Motörhead cover band playing “Ace of Spades”.
Be sure to stay tuned for Part IV of the Early History of the Robot Wars and check out Part I and Part II to catch up on twitter controlled cyborgs, sext messages in your eyeballs and other totally true techno-creepy shit.