I don’t read much science fiction anymore and I don’t know why. I devoured the genre when I was young and, fortunately, with guidance from a librarian, managed to read most of the classics. Science fiction can show us the full possibilities of the good, the bad and the ugly in our nature by tilting reality in a way that forces us to look at the world afresh.
Part of my inheritance from those early days was my love for robots. The ones I remember were helpful creatures often mistreated or neglected by their creators. They represented the best in us and not the worst. When I watched the Terminator series, with Arnold Schwarzenegger, I was shocked by the notion of a maniacal robot, though there was some precedent. HAL went astray in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey but he redeemed himself in the sequel which put my thinking about robots right again.
Still, as robots are projections of ourselves, we must anticipate the worst and while these mechanical creations already help the physically impaired, assist in delicate surgeries, and reduce the tedium of an assembly line, it pains me to read that our military is experimenting with the concept of robot soldiers. (The Week, March 28, 2013 pg. 12) True, robot soldiers don’t suffer post dramatic stress trauma and their parts can easily be replaced. They also cost nothing to feed and shelter and a destroyed robot is better than a dead human being. But I fear we are about to enter what was formerly the province of science fiction without considering the consequences of making the fantasy real. Even a game of chess has rules. Before we send these metal warriors into battle, we should develop some guidelines. For a start, we need to keep robots as dumb as ourselves.
(Courtesy of www.scriptflags.com)