Robots and War

TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Talk by P.W. Singer on military robots and what they mean for the future of warfare. Fascinating and powerful stuff!

Peter Warren Singer is the director of the 21st Century Defense Initiative at the Brookings Institution — where his research and analysis offer an eye-opening take on what the 21st century holds for war and foreign policy. His latest book, Wired for War, examines how the US military has been, in the words of a recent US Navy recruiting ad, “working hard to get soldiers off the front lines” and replacing humans with machines for bombing, flying and spying. (TEDsite)

Or watch it on the TED website here.

Source: TEDTalks

Why Robots Are a Good Thing

The Honda Corporation documentary, Living With Robots, may be designed as a promotional tool, but it gives an excellent introduction to the various issues — technical, psychological and sociological — surrounding the development of bi-pedal robots. You know, the humanoid kind that so often end up being the villains in sci-fi films and stories. Honda’s experimental robot Asimo is a fascinating and awesome creation, so close to the science fictional robots of my youthful imaginings that it makes me think that the futures so often depicted in SF literature are very close indeed.

For those that don’t know about the concept of the “Uncanny Valley” — so important in this field of research, even if recently discredited somewhat (more on that at another time) — Living With Robots gives you a brief introduction to that as well.

More Rampant Robots

Last weekend’s Fright Flick episode on Undead Backbrain featured two short films about robots with attitude. The main feature — Hanger No. 5 (US-2008; short [11:10 min]; dir. Nathan Matsuda) — is an Indiana-Jonesish adventure in which two fortune-hunting scavengers enter an abandoned military establishment dating from the 1950s and come face-to-face with some long-dormant mechanical experiments in robotic warfare. View it here.

Its secondary support feature is a very nice vignette from the UK: Recovered (UK-2009; short [3:23 min]; dir. Joe Efstathiou and Alfredo Antonio Cozz). This one offers a Cloverfield-like view of a giant robot attack. Excellent.