Ruby Ramblings


Athena- The Goddess of Heroic Endeavors

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There is a statue in Nashville, inside the life-size replica of the Parthenon built for a fair in 1897, that stands almost 42 feet tall.  The statue is inspiring and quite impressive, the Goddess of heroic endeavors, also considered the Goddess of the “disciplined side of war.”  Whatever that is supposed to mean.  Her shield is called the “aegis”.  Like the Aegis destroyers, military gun ships, built in my home state of Maine at Bath Iron Works.  Aegis means something under protection of a powerful, knowledgeable, or benevolent source; mighty presumptuous don’t you think?
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On the way home from visiting this museum and taking pictures of the giant woman presiding over war and heroics, I listened to a story regarding the recent move toward using robotics in war.  The NPR story on P.W. Singer’s new book Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Centurydescribed a terrible future (and present) of warfar by remote control.  Has no one read Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, The Machine Stops by E.M. Forester, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress by Heinlein? 

Anyone, anyone at all?

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The ramifications of using robots to do jobs that humans used to do raises insane ethical questions.  Sure it’s great to use robots to unarm landminds, saving life and limb of soldier, not to mention the local children, but what about killing by video game controls?  The army is actual setting up tactical video games in malls using the games to lure young men into joining the service.  It’s easy to disassociate killers from the killed in a video game.  No remorse, no guilt, and no immediate retaliation.  One of the issues talked about in the radio interview is how when you are two thousand miles away controlling a robot, you can create your own reality.  Singer describes a situation where they were controlling a gunman robot from afar, believing they were targeting the so-called Chemical Ali.  When they blew the guy up, watching him bounce several times as he hit the ground, they cheered and congratulated themselves on killing a person the US government considered a huge threat and major terrorist.  They found out several days later that the man was a civilian, with no connections to any terrorist groups.

What if we tried this the old fashioned way.  Send people out with shields, spears, and a funny looking headdress.  Make them look each other in the eye, and see how many teenage boys want to sign up then.

Currently reading:

The Buddha at War: Peaceful Heart, Courageous Action in Troubled Times
by Robert Sachs


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Quote: “May all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness. May all beings be free from suffering and the causes of suffering. May they never be separated from the great happiness that is beyond suffering. May they dwell in great equanimity which is beyond passion, aggression, and prejudice.”

My old blog, including stories and photos from my ramblings around the US, Nepal, and Eastern Europe can be seen at www.myspace.com/therubycanary.

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2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Hey Ruby!
I’m so glad to see you’ve moved your blog here! (hopefully I’ll go back writing my own. Still have to finish my summer story. I’m half way through and waiting for Godot it seems!)

Oh and about remote control killing: that’s not such a far future. I could list you few examples from NATO aggression on Yugoslavia. The only difference is that a soldier, not civilian had controlled that robot. Oh well there is another difference: Soldier knew what is targeting although sanity is telling me to leave open option that I might be wrong considering that some of the targets were Chinese Embassy (with Chinese diplomats inside); civilian train and (the the worse and absolutely impossible to understand) a maternity home in Belgrade (not to mention dozen of schools etc).

Comment by Milan

You’re off to a good start!

Comment by bybee




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