Monday, February 3, 2014

Week 1/26

                                                    Robot War
On Tuesday's meeting, the class talked about robots from different countries fighting against each other. It was actually an interesting topic. One student pointed out that it would be meaningless to just let "machines" fighting each other because "machines" do not mean anything. However, I barely agree with such opinion. Rather than nothing, robots actually represent military force or power, just the same as soldiers on a traditional battle field. The intrinsic concept of war is the same no matter how the forms have changed. War is the last resort to settle down a disagreement between sides. Let's say: in the future, due to all kinds of ethical reason, people decide not to use human soldiers anymore. Instead, robots are sent to the battle field, and probably robot will not kill civilians but only enemy robots. At the end, one side/country runs out robots, which means that this country has no more military forces to keep up the war. Then, they have to surrender and yield to the winning side, making compromise to the disagreement which the war is all about. Things end up like traditional war ending. Loser signs contract, pays money, loses certain rights and privileges.  

In conclusion, "robots fighting against robots" is not meaningless. It is actually a new form of warfare, which, nevertheless, is still used to solve disagreement under the situation that negotiation is ineffective.

On Friday, the lecture started with the concept of unexpected result of scientific research. In the textbook and from my daily reading, I have seen countless examples of unintended results of scientific research or industrial design. Some of them are "positive," and some are "negative" -- the textbook use this two words to classify unintended results. In my opinion, such attitude is only valid if one consider unintended results from a rather superficial point of view -- "Is the result, obviously deviated, helpful or harmful?" However, I think not just those "positive results," but those " negative ones" are also beneficial because human beings do learn from the mistakes that have been made. For example, people once used Freon as the cooling reactant for air conditioning or refrigeration. Freon was a viewed as a gift from God because of its outstanding thermal properties, and it was considered to be environmental friendly. Later on, scientist discovered that after Freon volatilizes into the atmosphere, it actually proceeds a chain reaction with the ozone layer. Under the catalyst effect of ultraviolet radiation, Freon reacts with ozone, and the products, after a series of reaction, turns back into Freon, thus, this chain reaction will never stop theoretically. How terrible it is! Such a devastating damage to the ozone was never expected or tested during the development of Freon. Although Freon's damage to ozone is negative, it is progressive if seen from another point of view. Sooner after Freon's negative effect was discovered, industry set up more restrict regulation about the leakage and disposal of Freon. Meanwhile, scientists started to develop alternative cooling cycle and substitute. Not just Freon, government became more restrict about the regulation of other chemicals -- although many chemicals are non-guilty after many tests, there are unknown/unconsidered situation. In a word, Freon had a strong social impact. Scientist, civilian, governments are more conscious, concerned and careful about developing, using , regulating chemicals.

In conclusion, unintended results, at least to me, are considered to be progressive and beneficial, regardless of positive or negative. As long as unintended results are properly to judged and treated. If it is negative, it becomes a warning/caution for the future generation; if it is positive, everyone is happy anyway.

Plus, isn't the world more beautiful or worth living for only if nobody knows what's gonna happen tomorrow?

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree that robots fighting against robots is not pointless. I see it as a form of technological innovation that will eventually be adopted by the entire world. It is just an upgrade to using human-controlled robots to fight against other human-controlled robots in the war zone. A robot war may in fact be preferred approach to settle irreconcilable disputes if robots are programmed to only attack other robots and not humans, as you described.