Sunday, January 23, 2005

Number five is alive!

The BBC reports that the U.S. military will be shipping eighteen robot soldiers off to Iraq this upcoming spring. With four cameras, mounted weaponry, and tank treads that can conquer rocky terrain and even barbed wire, these metal warriors will enable their flesh-and-blood counterparts to dispense freedom and liberty from the comfort of the Green Zone mess hall - and all for the low, low price of only $200,000 each (or 1/200th of Dubya's inauguration).

No word yet on whether the 'bots will be programmed to shoot civilians or torture prisoners, though.

But here's the best part of the Beeb article: "Mr. Quinn [a manager at Foster-Miller, the company that worked with the military to develop the combat robots] says there are plans to replace the computer screen, joysticks and keypad in the remote-control unit with a Gameboy-style controller and virtual-reality goggles."

War, meet the Nintendo Generation. Does high score get the Congressional Medal of Honor?

When I was looking at the picture of the warbot, I couldn't help but keep thinking of that classic 80's movie Short Circuit, which featured loveable robot "Number Five" who inexplicably became sentient after a power surge (funny, that tends to flash-fry my electronics). Here they are, side by side - Number Five and Number Fifty Caliber:

Try not to mix them up.

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