Sunday, January 23, 2005

ender's war

I'm sort of ripping off both AX and Spiral here, as one of them has already referenced the Orson Scott Card book and the other has posted relevant photos.

But I didn't know that the new combat robot we're sending to Iraq in the spring is operated remotely by a soldier using (eventually) a Gameboy-style interface--joystick and VR goggles--from up to half a mile away.

Not that I'm some kind of traditionalist or anything. I'm not saying we should go back to waging war using horses, pointed sticks, and Greek Fire. And I'm certainly for anything that keeps our soldiers safe (although my best idea for that involves bringing them home pronto, not a $200,000 toy). But this is really scary, this distancing. Will the VR goggles show accurate images of the insurgents the solider is killing by remote, or just little avatars in an 8-bit colorspace? Considering that two-thirds of the Iraqis dead so far have been noncombatant women and children--people our soldiers could see up-close and in person--what's going to happen when that immediacy, the smell and sound and impact of death, are removed?

This war is not a fucking video game.