In case I haven’t mentioned it, “Search and Rescue” is a sub-category of “Solutions Looking for Problems“… I mean sure, sometimes people do get lost, or get into dangerous situations, but it’s pretty rare – and certainly not as big a problem as car-crashes or landmines or people just being piss-wits generally.
So we’re hell-bent on building this giant, planet-scale monster… a human machine symbiote… and we don’t know why, or even what exactly it is that we’re building… but we wants it… we wants it…
So we keep making these things, and when we don’t know what they’re for… some little voice (like an angel on the shoulder) pipes up “search and rescue?”.
1) Fly eyes
an excuse to have a really cool photo of a fly-eye… although they don’t look so cool when you get them in perspective do they? No. They’re bastards.
Anyway, the attached article is about using some uber-simplified algorithm for controlling robotic flight… means you can get away with using a much smaller, lighter brain to fly something than we currently do… though it is quite remarkable that a fly is clever enough to work this out, because they’re not generally regarded as being the sharpest tools in the box. I’ve got a feeling that some species of AI is the only sane way of getting computers to control really complex robots… and it has the potential for using the same bit of software to control any device. Mind you, the learning curve could be a bit scary.
So um… don’t get me wrong – what this article is talking about is actually an extremely clever and quite remarkable development. But um… what’s it for? well…. it could be useful for search and rescue. Obviously.
Ok – this one pushing the dial of the daftometer well into the red zone – people doing Shakespeare with robots (and I suspect that by “robots” we actually mean remote-controlled toys).
Now I’ve got nothing against Shakespeare. I’ve heard that some of the stuff he wrote was actually quite good, for the time etc. A bit talky maybe, but he did apparently have a certain literary flair… unfortunately his work does seem to have this… thing… where people use it to lend credibility to daft experiments.
The gist of the article though is that (and this should come as no surprise to anyone) people do seem to be pre-disposed to anthropomorphising these things… and this could be useful for… err… well, search and rescue.
They even invoke the Godwin’s Law variant ‘9/11’ – which has long since stopped being whatever it should have been… and instead has become this cynical touch-stone for every dubious-(and generally authoritarian)-cause-championing wanker in the entire universe. To be fair though, the person name-checked in the article did have robots at the World Trade Center… so um… maybe there is merit in getting them to do a bit of Shakespeare etc. Can’t hurt can it? Never did me any harm.