Friday, March 25, 2005

Robotic Arseworms

I mean this is scary.


A paper in the Journal of Medical Engineering And Technology reveals all. Researchers Zuo J, Yan G, and Gao Z. have created a — oh, let's not be coy — monster. A very small monster, to be sure, just 12 cm long and 7.5mm across, but monstrous in all its tiny respects. Based on the principles of the earthworm, the robot can "move reliably in horizontal and certain declining tubes", driven by one of the micromechanical electric motors which are Shanghai Jiao Tong University's stock in trade. And the nature of these certain declining tubes? What Zuo, Yan and Gao have summoned is what they call a miniature endoscope for colonoscopy. The world will come to know and fear it as the Robot Arseworm.

I have been an avid consumer of science fiction for many years. I have inhabited cyber-dystopias under the cold, titanium thumb of imperial golems, and watched aghast as armies of mad mechanoids lay waste the worlds of their creators. There have been machines the size of planets bent on mankind's destruction, there have been awkward artificial dogs, the all-devouring grey goo of malfunctioning nanotech, even rebelliously sentient brown shoes.

But nothing from the fever dreams of Philip K Dick or Gene Roddenberry comes close to this Shanghai Surprise. It is science at its disinterested, impassive worst — creating for the nominal good a device of the most inhuman evil. What will happen when these things strike out on their own? When the goal of nanotechnology, self-duplication, is achieved? Powerful, autonomous, unstoppable, the creeping swarms will have but one thought in their shiny, snub-nosed artificial minds. To seek out their God-given destiny by any means necessary — and once there, to breed.

We are in the End Times, my children. Make your peace with man and deity, and prepare for the unthinkable.

From Rupert Goodwins Diary 03.18.05

I think I'll standup now



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