Frankenstein’s Weeping Monster

23 Nov

MarvinI understand the want, and need, to move away from testing weaponry on things that are actually alive, but, in some cases, what alternative do we have?

Enter robotics firm Midwest Research Institute (with a little assistance from our favourite terror-machine creators, Boston Dynamics).

From Polijam.com

KANSAS CITY, Mo., Nov. 18 (UPI) — A humanoid robotic mannequin for testing equipment against chemical warfare agents is being developed by Missouri’s Midwest Research Institute.

Great, some sort of robo-mannequin is a much better solution that gassing rabbits – right? At first this sounded, to me, like an advanced version of the crash test dummy, Buster, from Mythbusters.

“The IPEMS features a chemical-agent test facility — exposure chamber and supporting structures — and a free-standing, self-balancing robot that simulates human physiology,” said MRI Senior Vice President and Director of Research Operations Thomas M. Sack. “Once complete, the mannequin, dressed in IPE, can be tested using a variety of environmental conditions and simulated warfighter activities in the presence of chemical agent. – more

Something about the statement “free-standing, self-balancing robot that simulates human physiology” has me feeling a little weird about this experiment. How far do we need to go to replicate human physiology and reaction in case of chemical attack?

Will this mannequin’s nose run and eyes water when sarin gas hits its simulated face?

Will it provide verbal feedback as to its current situation? Will it ask you to “please stop”?

Would you be willing to push the “initiate test” button on something that could?

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2 Responses to “Frankenstein’s Weeping Monster”

  1. bmj2k November 23, 2010 at 17:04 #

    From The Simpsons, episode 5f05: “…why…why was I programmed to feel pain?”

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