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Packs of Robots Will Hunt Down Uncooperative Humans 395

Ostracus writes "The latest request from the Pentagon jars the senses. At least, it did mine. They are looking for contractors to 'develop a software/hardware suite that would enable a multi-robot team, together with a human operator, to search for and detect a non-cooperative human subject. The main research task will involve determining the movements of the robot team through the environment to maximize the opportunity to find the subject ... Typical robots for this type of activity are expected to weigh less than 100 Kg and the team would have three to five robots.'" To be fair, they plan to use the Multi-Robot Pursuit System for less nefarious-sounding purposes as well. They note that the robots would "have potential commercialization within search and rescue, fire fighting, reconnaissance, and automated biological, chemical and radiation sensing with mobile platforms."

Comment Re:Who will terminate the manual laborers? (Score 1) 142

OK, so we agree that we're talking about a class of people here - people whose jobs are going away because of automation (among other reasons).

There are various ways to structure economies - choices that are made. I think in this country choices are being made that result in more and more of the country looking like pockets of the Third World. For example, in 2004 the infant mortality rate in the U.S. was higher than that of Cuba. Going along with that, we have more and more people who are unable to earn a living wage for themselves and their families.

The choices made for the U.S. economy, by U.S. corporations and politicians, have been to allow jobs to easily move to lower-wage regions, if not here then overseas. Other choices made in the past, forced to a large extent by labor pressure, have been to allow U.S. workers decent jobs with a livable wage, eight-hour workdays, benefits, provisions for retirement, etc.

I think automation and job "exports" are two sides of the same coin - do what you can to increase profits and also reduce the control workers have over corporate decisions. There's nothing wrong with automation in of itself. It's just a tool, to be used for good or ill. But so far in the U.S. it's mostly been used to de-skill workers. It would be one thing it automation were used for labor-saving such that everyone could enjoy more leisure, but that's not how it's been designed. Instead, it's used to increase profits and control.

Unless we make decisions to give people a decent education (generally, I don't think they get that in today's public schools) and some hope for the future in terms of employment, we will continue to have people who aren't going to be able to make it. And like I said, it isn't just blue-collar people that are being affected by such technological marvels.

And I'm afraid that no one at the top of the food chain is going to 'give' these people very much. They are going to have to take what they need themselves. That's the way it's always happened - look at the labor movement, civil rights, the feminist movement.

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