Robotics, Games and Warfare

A post over at Bot Junkie points out a Popular Mechanics piece detailing the Defense Department’s development of the Vigilante unmanned helicopter, an unmanned device that carries an on-board shotgun and is controlled with a familiar input device:

The rifle currently mounted on the ARSS is a RND Manufacturing Edge 2000 Rifle firing .338 Lapua Magnum cartridges at up to 10 rounds per minute. The key feature of the ARSS system, though, is the turret mount, which is actively stabilized to allow for precision shots in flight. The mount includes dual zoom cameras, and the entire system is controlled remotely with an Xbox 360 controller.

Reactions to videogame violence often careen between two extremes: moralistic proselytizers who scream that videogames cause the Colombines of our modern world or game playing apologists who scoff at the idea that letting off steam playing games can possibly have any real world consequence.  Whether either group’s position is grounded in reality (and granting that there is a continuum of nuanced views in between those polarized camps), what is inarguable in this case is that the armed forces are interested in designing their killing machines to use a high quality input device that legions of recruits trained on a steady diet of home console games are clearly familiar with. The way in which you view this development can be refracted through your own political prism to determine just how you feel about it.