Robots, cyborgs, and the dangers of going green


Peter Ochabski

Cyborg Cockroaches May Be Future Emergency Responders
Date: 07 September 2012 Time: 07:47 PM ET
Scientists are remotely controlling insects with microprocessors attached to their bodies and sensory organs. The primary intention is to fit them with tiny cameras and other sensors then using them to find survivors in dangerous areas such as buildings collapsed by earthquakes or other hostile areas. Their small size and simple biology make them ideal candidates as building robots at that scale poses many problems and is still many years away from being cost effective.

While the professed reason is to save people in disaster areas I guarantee that they will also be used for spying and possibly even to deliver poisons or explosives. I also know that they are doing similar things with animals such as sharks where they are overriding the creatures ability to control itself by direct brain stimulation. The most significant ethical problem is that we are forcing an innocent living creature that is self aware to act in ways that will get it killed. Imagine if you were not in control of your body and used to kill someone else. I've even read of research where a shark brain was suspended in a protein gel chassis with wheels and light sensors connected to it and it functioned, following light that was projected in front of it but consider how horribly painful and disturbing the experience was for the animal. I believe in progress and pushing the envelope but we must consider the ramifications on both an individual creature and global scale.

I think it goes without saying that from one perspective these technologies could be used to benefit the world as a whole but we must consider first, do the means justify the ends, and second is this progress for the sake of progress or are we solving a quality of life issue with more long term benefits than consequences. The book puts such a fine point on the dilemma of killing an innocent individual to save 15 people who will die without their organs, blood, and tissues. I feel we too often put so much value on the CONVENIENCE of human life and ignore the destruction of millions of creatures who are the wasted byproduct of fishing or other irresponsible industries.
Under the hood of the robotic racing cars
Beating the challenge of creating self-driving vehicles
By John Brandon from PC Plus 275 November 2nd 2008
The articles goes into detail about how self driving robotic cars operate and interact with their environment as well as some of the technology that is already working in cars today. The article also goes over the trials and tribulations necessary for a computerized robot to do something many of us take for granted, driving.

First I personally hate the idea because I LOVE driving I even love shifting, the feeling of being part of the experience of making the decision and manually connecting the engines power to the wheels in a glorious power slide smoothly executed... Erhem, anyway there may come a day when ALL cars are required to be robots to prevent accidents. Safety at the cost of freedom and excitement. Life at the cost of living! Also consider that if a robot cars software has a bug or malfunctions and runs through a crowded park or event, who is to blame? Should the programmers be jailed for negligence?

It all comes down to negative rights, in this case the freedom to not be killed by a car, and the claimed right to drive a car yourself despite the possibility that there might be an accident. So many things clash at the point where freedom intersects with the potential harm. To me the real question is this: Do you want to be safe in a golden cage you cant leave or live in a free world where a mistake could be fatal? I belive that making mistakes and getting hurt is part of the human process that leads us to greater skill, greater awareness, greater empathy and the ability to discover and do the things we love that make life worth living.

And just for fun :