The future gets a little closer – and scarier – every day: the United States Navy has sent out a call to the weapons industry to develop shipboard solid-state laser beam weapons. The Navy’s specifications call for a combat system that they can use to shoot down enemy drones, both the flying and maritime kind. Let it all sink in: We’re now at a state of technological innovation where we’re using laser beams to shoot enemy robots. I remember this game: When I was a kid, it was called Berzerk and it ate quarters like nobody’s business. Now the game is for real and it’s going to cost a heck of a lot more than a quarter. According to NBC, $110 million has been appropriated for the development of a working prototype.
With vehicle-mounted laser beams coming into the picture and drone craft getting closer every day to being completely autonomous, I can’t help but to worry if we’re designing our own destruction in more ways than one. What would happen if a rogue artificial intelligence revealed itself by taking over the world’s robot weaponry? That would be one heck of an opening act. I know it’s probably not going to happen (at least any time soon), but maybe that’s the curse of the science fiction-minded: we think about these crazy kinds of things. At least I’m not the only one: Daniel H. Wilson’s Robopocalypse painted a pretty gruesome picture of exactly this kind of what-if scenario. (Thanks for the robot snake nightmares, Daniel. I guess!)
I think robots and lasers are as cool as the next guy, but if I had my choice, I’d rather my future look closer to Star Wars than The Terminator. I just can’t imagine R2 or C-3PO lighting my house up with Hellfire missiles.Yet.