Thursday, June 26, 2014

Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century - & - The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of

Of late my posts to the lunar-update list have been rather spotty. I might blame distractions on this side from a hand that stings but I also have concerns about the direction of our space activities, like lack of funding or reasons for venturing off world.  Maybe I have lost some of the wonder of a 12 year old reading comic books and watching Buck Rogers.

I suppose one can become too concerned about the why and just report on what is actually happening, but let me bend your ear a bit.  

The first chapter, THE RIGHT TO LIE is found at The New York Times books section. Just a snip:
 "America is a nation of liars, and for that reason science fiction has a special claim to be our national literature, as the art form best adapted to telling the lies we like to hear and to pretend we believe.
    It has been said of Cretans that they were all liars, and we can assume, from its proscription in the Decalogue, that lying was not unknown in Mosaic times. What distinguishes American liars from those of earlier times and other nations is that the perfected American liar does not feel himself to be disgraced by his lies, even when he is caught in them. Indeed, the bolder the lie and the more brazenly imposed on the public, the more admiration the liar is accorded."
As you see, Disch makes the assertion that America is a "nation of liars." He goes through the history of Science Fiction and shows how the writings have targeted young boys who are willing to accept the portrayal of interplanetary war, drugs, and women as something that is OK to dream about. 

In fairness you may also want to look at a rebuttal to his book, but you would really need to have read the book to fully appreciate. "A Plague on All Your Houses"

When you look back at the 50's, 60's, and 70's you can see that the science fiction followed a lot of what was happening then.  Now this 12 year old is an adult and who is to say what I dreamed about, good or bad, is what I should be working on today. Have I been wired by my young dreams that might need revisiting? What is an acceptable way to let actions unfold? Have I considered what to do. and its effects, as well as what I don't have time to do, that limits what I could have been done?

A lot of what was foretold is now real life. Doors do open automatically when you approach.  No stage hand has to pull at the right time for Kirk to walk through a door on the EnterpriseStar Trek Rarities would like to fly a quadcopter to your door step to deliver packages, but so far the FAA has denied permissionDeutsche Post (DHL) in Germany is experimenting with a ‘Paketkopter’ drone to deliver small loads like emergency medicine needs.

That is not quite the image of cars zooming at different levels as in the movies. 
The 10 Most Badass Fictional Flying Cars of Sci-Fi
It does seem that the FAA is concerned with how you will keep track of low flying robot copters. Not for profit now.

Also, our war machines have continued to evolve to the point you can use unpiloted airplanes, drones or Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to take out the enemy in a land far, far away while sitting in a air conditioned cubicle in Nevada. Maybe it was an alien that has just landed or maybe it is someone that doesn't agree with the lie you were brought up with. 

If you are still with me, take a look at what Steve Grand wrote and take time to view the YouTube video that is suggested.  It is causing me to look out and down as well as to look up.

Back in July of 2010, Steve in his blog wrote, "Is the human brain still in beta?" (Or is it society that’s not yet fully debugged?)  Steve has been working on a program dealing with "Artificial Life."  
He starts of with, "I’m supposed to be working hard at the moment, which is, of course, why I’m spending far too much time on Facebook. Anyway, yesterday and today a series of disparate Facebook threads seemed to come together as if to raise a single question, so I thought I’d ask for opinions."  This follows with a number of examples of how people seem to be making questionable decisions that to them, seem to be alright, just because they have been deluded into accepting their decisions without really evaluating what the results may bring forth.

At the end of his blog there are some 59 comments one is from Bob Mottram who proposes that Steve might like to see if he hasn't already.  I would like to pass that link as it seems to be even more relevant today than 2009, with the number of military drones being flown and for what reason.
- LRK -

Bob Mottram says:
Also on the topic of robotics and its military connections, if you havn’t seen it before I’d recommend this video on ethics in robotics:
Illah Nourbakhsh Lecture: Ethics in Robotics
Uploaded on Feb 13, 2009
Are there types of robots that shouldn't be created? Should we use robots in military combat? Or is there actually nothing to worry about? Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute professor Illah Nourbakhsh addresses issues raised by recent book Wired for War by P.W. Singer and gives his personal take on ethics and robotics.
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Related to the above would be a link from the end of Steve's post. 

His comment, "Let me finish with one last Facebook post. This one was a link to a robotics project that is clearly funded by, and heavily tailored towards, the Military. The research team is developing robot helicopters that can fly through windows and latch onto a target. It doesn’t take much imagination to see what military applications this might have, and those applications are potentially very destabilizing, because they provide the opportunity to blow people up at zero risk to the person who chooses to do it. Warfare evolved under fairer circumstances than these and we really don’t know what will happen when wars can be fought from an armchair."
- LRK -

Autonomous quadrocopter flies through windows, straight into our hearts (video)BY VLAD SAVOV  4 YEARS AGO

We don't know whether we should be terrified or overjoyed. We've just come across a video demo from the University of Pennsylvania's GRASP Lab that shows an autonomousquadrotor helicopter performing "precise aggressive maneuvers." And trust us when we say, nothing in the foregoing sentence is an overstatement -- the thing moves with the speed and grace of an angry bee, while accompanied by the perfectly menacing whine of its little engine. See this work of scientific art in motion after the break.

And from the author of the book, Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century, this talk, 
- LRK -

Robots and War: Everything You Were Afraid to Ask..Afraid to

Uploaded on Mar 2, 2009
P. W. Singer, a Senior Fellow and Director of the 21st Century Defense Initiative at the Brookings Institution, and author...


I watched Star Trek (1966–1969) while I watched Apollo 11: Launch July 16, 1969 (turn up the volume and run through some power amps to shake the walls) and Apollo11: Lunar Landing July 20, 1969 and didn't think anything about the cardboard sets for Star Trek, but then I think I was still in the child like, 12 year old mold. We could go to the Moon, we could go anywhere.  I had watched 2001: A Space Odyssey and read the book a number of times. My brother told me about the music and I told him about the science. And then in 1984 - 2010: The Year We Make Contact  
- LRK -

Uploaded on Mar 26, 2009
Original 1984 motion picture trailer.

Today I look at things a bit different.  I don't see us lifting my city of Tracy, with a population estimated 84,691, to some orbital city in orbit or floating through space but there have been a number of science fiction novels with this theme and we hold design contests at NASA Ames for students around the world. (see I need to update my old web site.) If not an actual space city then maybe the development of the Moon to support such ideas in the event it really becomes necessary to send some of our seed off world.  I am not the only one who has talked about setting up shop on the Moon. 

Is that something that should really be done?  Have we looked at the benefits and what doesn't get done if we spend our time, energy, obsession, and resources to accomplish?  Life in a spacesuit doesn't sound like a fun way to take a drive on the Moon.

Since I have been presenting a number of items that may make us think about reasons for going to space or not, let me leave you with Hamish LIndsy's web site and his information on Apollo 17.
- LRK -

Apollo 17

7–20 December 1972

by Hamish Lindsay

There is good reason to keep us up to date on what is happening that is space related and I will see if I can't do a better job of that.
At the same time I think I shall also take a closer look at why we are flying above the ground even if it is within our atmosphere.
It may lead us to better understand why we will or will not spend time and money to send humans to space.
And by 'we' I mean the US taxpayer.  I don't think I will be going to space.  Will you be going to space? 
Will you sponsor someone for a space trip? (crowd source for a small bit of memorabilia)
ISEE-3 Reboot Project by Space College, Skycorp, and SpaceRef
06/26/14: Just as our DSN window closed today we were able to get 2 way Doppler lock and ranging at 47.5 kHz offset.  DSN got the four ranging points needed from ISEE-3. This is the first time since 1999 that DSN has talked to the spacecraft. Follow up session tomorrow should get us a lot more recording time.