Sunday, February 27, 2011 This Will End Well

Forget the zombie apocalypse. The real danger is the coming robot rebellion. Wired's Danger Room is reporting that DARPA, the agency that commissions advanced tech research for the Defense Department, has awarded a contract to develop a robot cheetah. From the article:
As the name implies, Cheetah is designed to be a four-legged robot with a flexible spine and articulated head (and potentially a tail) that runs faster than the fastest human. In addition to raw speed, Cheetah’s makers promise that it will have the agility to make tight turns so that it can “zigzag to chase and evade” and be able to stop on a dime.
Aside from its unspecified military applications, Cheetah’s makers see it galloping to the rescue and building a brave new future in the fields of “emergency response, firefighting, advanced agriculture and vehicular travel.”
It's the "unspecified military applications" that sends shivers down my spine.

Boston Dynamics' Cheetah will be an advanced version of their BigDog, a robot pack mule designed to carry heavy loads over battlefield terrain. You've probably seen unsettling YouTube videos like the one below.

Now put fangs and claws on that, crank it's speed up to 11, and pray that whomever they outsource the programming to remembers to put you in the "friend" column.

And if that weren't bad enough, the same folks are working on a headless Terminator:

Its designers say it’ll be able to walk like a human over rough terrain, crawling on its hands and knees when necessary and turning itself sideways to slip through any narrow passages it encounters.
That's right, it crawls. Which means that someday you will see it scuttling towards the foot of your bed like Sadako from Ringu. It will have murder in its cold steel heart but not in its eyes, because it doesn't have a freaking head.

So yeah, it's time to revise your zombie survival plans to account for these metal marauders. And it's going to take more effort than simply crossing out "zombie" and writing in "robot", so get started now.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011 R.I.P. Nicholas Courtney

Brigadier Sir Alistair Gordon


This one is pretty hard for me to talk about, so I'll leave it to the many other memorials and reminiscences pouring on to the 'net. Suffice to say that one of my childhood heroes is gone.