Monday, April 11, 2005

Cyber Soldiers & Cyborgs

One of the interesting developments of the Iraq war is that more soldiers are surviving than in previous wars, but often these soldiers lose limbs in the process. However, many of these soldiers are being given prosthetic limbs to help them become functioning members of society.

What is even more interesting, is that some of these soldiers have been deemed combat ready by the US Army and returned to active duty and even combat duty.

Some commentators have suggested that the calculus of going to war is different with an all-volunteer army than with an army of drafted citizen-soldiers.

How does the calculus change when that Army is composed of volunteers with cybernetic limbs? The army increasingly is using robots and unmanned drones. How long until we weld amputee soldiers into the robots?

A decade ago William Gibson and Walter Jon Williams suggested that the military and corporate quasi-militaries would be the ones pushing the envelope on human-machine hybrids. It appears they were correct.

One final note, a commercially available exoskeleton may be available soon according to Slashdot, for much the price of a motorcycle.

As I mentioned last year, DARPA has been pursuing exoskeletons for military use for quite a while.

Do you ever feel like you're living a dystopian novel?

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