Already deployed by the U.S. in Iraq and Israel in the Gaza, robotic enforcers, warriors, drones and airborne vehicles are everywhere. All the big guys; Honeywell, Northrup, Boeing and their ilk, are getting into the act. And then, there are the military nano-bots waiting in the wings. I've read stories about swarms of robotic bees and cockroaches capable of disabling jet engines, swarming into tunnels and operating as an integrated part of a multi-vehicle, robotic battle force. Now that's an image.
I'm conflicted about these developments. It certainly makes sense to sacrifice intelligent machinery rather than to spill human blood, but there's a nagging worry that the manufacturers and purchasers of these new killing machines will need an excuse to use them. Or that they could be turned on domestic opponents of a particular political regime. One newly deployed robotic enforcer is specially designed for "crowd control," which raises some hackles as well.
Once we're over the novelty and ultra-coolness of sleek and capable programmable machines, we need to consider the implications of these devices on things like the ease of establishing a police state. And that's just not my paranoia talking. Former Reagan advisor Paul C. Roberts is actually sounding the alarm about Bush's intentions in that regard.