September 8, 2012

Let the BigDog Bark

The Terminator series of movies describes a future that is coming at us pretty damn fast. The vision of robot warriors has evolved from science fiction to science fact at a rate that should cause folks to sit up and take notice. The face of war is changing. Robots are the next step in the evolution from citizen soldiers to an all volunteer army to a hybrid army of men and computer-guided machines, including robots. Not too hard to see what's coming. Hello Terminator!

Of course, that's not how these new robotic devices will be marketed. They will be heralded as new tools to do mankind's dirty work, making it unnecessary for humans to do the dirty jobs of war and peace. Some will say this is a good thing. I'm not so sure.

We have already made war too easy for the politicians. As citizens we have bought into the idea of an all-volunteer army. It's a devil's bargain of sorts. We the people pay the taxes to support whatever wars the politicians decide to fight. In return, we are promised that our sons and daughters will be left alone unless they volunteer.

Right now, we have troops engaged overtly and covertly in a number of arenas, but you would never know it. Mitt Romney recently got through his entire acceptance speech without once mentioning Iraq or Afghanistan. That isn't a knock on Mitt. He just reflects the way we all live in these days of endless warfare. We go about our lives for the most part heedless of the cost in treasure and blood we are paying every day. What will it be like when robots are doing the fighting for us?

As someone who fought in a war that was still mostly unplugged, this new face of war is alien and frightening. The vision of wave after wave of relentless machines advancing inexorably toward my position, leaping and bounding and clawing their way over every obstacle, the air filled with the ominous drone of their power packs, sounding for all the world like mournful robotic bagpipes ... this is not any kind of war I want to fight in.

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