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A Robot That Flies Like a Bird



yay, humans! you continue to create almost believable recreations of nature! see: the internet (an anthill or beehive), the a-bomb (the sun) etc., etc. 2 words: military applications. no really, i was impressed, too. i just couldn't help thinking about kurt vonnegut's (and others) warnings about "pure science" (or "technology) and how the need for funding would necessarily lead to the most evil possible usage for the imaginings of the hapless, naive scientists/designers. what can ya do, ay?

the internet (an anthill or beehive) Wha?

the a-bomb (the sun) Those humans! How dare they follow the laws of physics for their apocalyptic inventions!

yeah, I botched the blockquote.

On topic, when I was a kid I had a toy bird kinda like that, it was a very clever toy. It was powered by a rubber band, and of course it wasn't radio controlled, but it flew just like a bird.

It was basically the same as this:

I kind of dig where Jonathan is coming from. The mechanical bird sure is neat-o, but it's hard to imagine it being used for good, and it's easy to imagine it being used for bad. There have already been reports of mechanical dragonflies being used as surveillance devices at anti-war rallies.

It's hard to imagine it being used for good.

I get it, you see the glass as half empty. I'll bet if you tried you could think of all kinds of positive uses for such technology. Are you saying that you lack imagination? What is the solution, as you see it, to the broader question of research in science.

I'll bet if you tried you could think of all kinds of positive uses for such technology.

Well, let's hear a few. Glass half empty? Maybe. Or maybe I'm just skeptical, especially in light of how similar technology has already been deployed. Optimism is fine, but blind optimism is dangerous.

Which scientific discoveries would you rather not have been made?

Congratulations, Andy! You win the stupid, irrelevant question of the day award!

And your deflection is not too smart.

You're implying that some things shouldn't be invented. The technology comes from scientific discoveries. Once you have discovered something, technology will follow.

So, rephrasing, what technology would you rather be un-inventable, with the implication that we would not know the science to develop it?

You're implying that some things shouldn't be invented.

I'm doing nothing of the sort. That's just your preferred interpretation. Read my reply to Norm below if you need clarification of my position.

The only interesting question in the thread is the one Jonathan posed in the beginning "what can ya do, ay?" Everyone understands that technology is sometimes used in nefarious ways, duh. There is no disagreement about that, the question is what are you going to do about it, and that is that question you ignore, pointlessly continuing to argue a point no one disagrees with.

Well, you are the one who is "pointlessly continuing to argue a point no one disagrees with."

You could've said something like, "Yeah, the military industrial complex concerns me, too. But in the meantime, the robotic bird is kind of cool, isn't it?"

I can remember reading stuff in Omni Magazine way back in the '80s and going, "Hey, cool. Oh, but wait." I mean, don't you ever have that reaction?

I sometimes think you take exception to my comments just because they come from me. I should try an experiment and start commenting under a different screen name.

I really thought that the danger was a given and that you couldn't really think that I or anyone who frequently comments here could hold any other view. So what was left to discuss, what to do about it of course. You could have simply answered the question I posed it, what is your solution was or that there was no good solution and then it would be simple for everyone to understand your point of view. Jonathan made that point with his what ya going to do .ay? comment, you didn't and so in my opinion it was reasonable to assume you had some solution or some idea of steps that could be taken.

This is basically the same discussion we had about GMOs you see some danger, but don't suggest solutions other than banning GMOs so that corporations don't make money. It looked to me like you were on track to make a similar argument here.

Do I take exception because the comments come from you, I suppose that may be part of the motivation, it's difficult to sort out exactly what it is that prompts me to comment. Our history is certainly a factor, I think you suffer from some thinking flaws that get repeated in many different contexts, or perhaps it is just that I don't understand exactly what it is you're trying to say at times, and like in this instance do little to clarify, seemingly enjoying the conflict rather than looking for the truth of the matter.

It's true that in some ways this is a rehash of our GMO debate. I actually deleted part of a comment pointing that out. I also refrained from commenting on the GMO potato article you posted a few days ago, which, like most defenses of GMOs, was really about saving profitable potato varieties and not about feeding the planet, as the author claimed.

Contrary to your assertion -- and for the gazillionth time -- my complaint about GMOs (or any other technology) isn't simply that some corporation will turn a profit. My complaint is that GMO defenders hide behind the feeding-the-world canard when their real concern is corporate profits. There's nothing wrong with corporate profits, necessarily. Just once I'd like to see a defender of GMOs come right out and say this or that company will suffer if we don't deregulate GMOs. There might be a valid argument there; corporations employ people and stuff. Instead, they feign concern for the world's hungry.

We've been over this ground ad nauseam, of course, but it fails to sink in with you, leading me to conclude that you and not I "suffer from some thinking flaws that get repeated in many different contexts." Unfortunately, in addition to the thinking flaws, you also suffer from a personality flaw that prevents you from conceding a point, as I have done on a few occasions. You are a dishonest debater.

A favorite columnist of mine, Sydney J. Harris, once said, "The most important thing in an argument, other than being right, is to give your opponent a face-saving way to take your position." But you don't do that, do you? Instead, as I have also pointed out before, you plant your flag and then defend it come what may. And as you have just admitted, the validity of your opponent's argument is irrelevant.

I don't understand exactly what it is you're trying to say...

This may be the most honest thing you've ever said in a comment to me, albeit unintentionally. And I'm the one with the thinking flaw? I am now even more convinced that if I had posted my first comment in this thread under a different screen name, you would not have disagreed with me so vehemently, or even at all. Go read that comment again and tell me which part you don't understand. It's only three sentences long, and there's a link to an article supporting my three-sentence thesis. What part don't you get?

What is the solution, as you see it, to the broader question of research in science.

I'll provide a list when you answer the question.

It's interesting that you seldom answer questions but rather pose questions in return. You win the obfuscation of the day award!

Your question is itself an obfuscation. I agree the robotic bird is neat-o, but my enthusiasm is tempered by my knowledge of how it is likely to be used. As Robert Oppenheimer once observed, "The optimist thinks this is the best of all possible worlds. The pessimist fears it is true."

Are you telling me you don't feel a pang of anxiety over how the robotic bird might be used? Are you saying that you lack the imagination necessary for such anxiety?

Rockets are neat-o too. I used to build rockets from the Estes catalog. One had a camera in it and I got some cool shots. But that doesn't change the fact that rockets are used as weapons and for spy satellites and other anxiety producing applications.

The human mind -- or at least my mind -- is capable of holding two conflicting thoughts simultaneously. Regarding the robotic bird, one thought my mind holds is, "hey, that's pretty cool." Simultaneous to that is, "Uh-oh. How is the Pentagon (or FBI or CIA or some other agency I've never even heard of) going to put this thing to use?"

Advancements in aerodynamics.

Development of drive systems that can be made without moving pieces, making it easier to produce them, with say, a 3d printer, a nano machine...

You should really get a subscription to Wired.


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