As Groundhog Day fast approaches, I recently read an article that PETA wants the use of actual groundhogs abolished. They suggest the use of robotic replacements instead. Once my laughing subsided, I thought to myself: Is there potentially nothing a robot could not do? More and more I read, not only about possible uses for robots, but about the actual implementation of robotic replacements for what was otherwise done for us fleshies.
Now don't get me wrong. I am all for modernization. We must continue to use technology as a tool, not become a tool with all the technology. But I have to wonder where some of these choices are taking us. The US military plans to implement robotic "aids" into service within the next decade. While I have a feeling we will still be fighting the same war by that point. The idea of some of these robo-soldiers kind of worries me. Whether they be fighting or attempting to save. You have to wonder how much faith we are willing to put in our technology.
Now I will hesitantly submit to Asimov's Three Rule principle of robotics, but even within a set number of interactions and commands, there is possibility for problems. We can hope that if given intelligence, robots would be limited by those rules and therefore not a threat. But then personal computers have limited intelligence and yet are prone to trouble (usually human in origin). I use my computer innocently enough (well one of them atleast, the laptop is prone to late-nite peer pressures to facebook stalk old flames), sure enough an issue will arise. Though a rogue virus or wayward computer glitch isn't going botch a surgery or open fire on it's own troops, it might just cause a very tired groundhog to do more than hide from his shadow.
The one thing missing from this doomsday scenario in the making is the "evil" corporation. That company whose founder always had the "best intentions" but in the long run began to put their fingers into too many pies. Robotics, communication, entertainment, and even military.
Lets pose a hypothetical if you will. Imagine a possible computer company, we'll call them Orange, in a near future. The wars the western world finds itself engaged in have grown to a deplorable depth. To find a leg up on their enemies, the powers-that-be have hired the help of the Orange Corp. to built new communications technology. As years go by, the cooperation between these two institutions become so ingrained one cannot tell the individual from the whole. Now as years go by society begins to degrade, and let's face it, life just starts to royally suck. Orange Corp Communications to the rescue. The one company with all the answers. Their products seek to fix people's lives, make them easier and simpler. Unbeknownst to the world, all the products from the OC have one fatal flaw. They were all made by the same company. To limit users buying their products, these items were completely closed to developers. Nothing could be applied or added to said products without passing strict approval from the head company. It wouldn't take a stretch of the imagination to see that the Orange Company owned the world. It would only take one power hungry CEO, a corrupt employee, or an act of cyber terrorism; for the entire world to come crashing down around us.
Now before I come off as some tech-junkie ranting about the freedom of open source, or some apocalyptic nut warning about the impending doom of placing our faith in machines. I just wanted to get the gears grinding. Would you want to be operated on by a robot, just because there was no physical doctor available? How bad is your HMO when even the robots won't work on you?
Would I approve of a cyber-hog? I suppose. Anyone who knows me, would understand that I loathe traditions with no purpose or real meaning. Do I stop anyone else from celebrating them? No. And as long as Punxsutawney Phil is treated well, who am I to stop them. I would be all for something retro-chic, perhaps something along the lines of K-9 from Dr. Who. But if a fruit-based company has a press conference and media event debuting the newest model of the iHog or iHog Touch, run for the hills folks.
On February 2, the hog comes out of his hole...
But he doesn't see his shadow...
He sees his enemy.
Prepare for 6 more weeks of nuclear winter.