Trauma Pod


Alert reader G.K. is on guard about the robot threat and offers this link about DARPA’s Trauma Pod project:

The Trauma Pod Program will enhance battlefield casualty care by developing autonomous and semi-autonomous mobile platforms through the integration of tele-robotic and robotic medical systems. The initial phase has successfully automated functions typically performed by the scrub nurse and circulating nurse; these functions are now performed by semi-autonomous robots working in coordination with the tele-robotic surgeon. The next phase of the program will develop methods for autonomous airway control and intravenous access so that initial therapy can be autonomously administered. Finally, these systems will be miniaturized and incorporated into a tactical platform capable of operating in a battlefield or mass casualty environment.

As I get almost to the end of Peter W. Singer’s Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century I worry less and less about the Terminator scenario and more and more about two other considerations. One is the way in which for some in the American national security establishment, thinking about better military technology seems to serve as a substitute for thinking about better strategy. It’s more lucrative, it ruffles fewer political feathers, and it’s easier. But it doesn’t work as well. War is politics by other means, and improving your means doesn’t get you very far if you’re not thinking sensibly about your policy aims.

The other is that if robots and AI are really the technology of the future, then the United States seems to be aiming a perilously large proportion of our financial and intellectual resources into military applications of these technologies rather than potentially more productive ones. In Asia they have lots of robots making stuff and taking care of people, not patrolling the skies over Afghanistan dropping bombs.