There's still hope — robots fail in the desert

Ever since watching the opening sequence of the first Terminator movie in 1984, in which autonomous battlebots relentlessly and remorselessly hunt down a pesky band of cockroach-like humans who refuse to be eradicated from what’s left of the Earth, the mad scientists at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration have been racing to beat the movie’s date of 2029 for the ultimate man-machine showdown.

Perpaps starting to panic a little–with only 24 years to go, no credible unstoppable AI-driven land-based deathmachines on the horizon and a whole world to destroy–the Military-Industrial Complex (MIC) challenged itself to “think outside the box(sm)” and so opened up the competitionto universities, entrepeneurs and even people who have no known connection to Haliblurton, Lockheed or Raytheon.

Alas for the military-industrial complex, the robots all

failed spectacularly.

It’s not hard to understand that geeks from all over were attracted to the DARPA “Grand Challenge” to build an autonmous vehicle that could make it on its own from Barstow to Nevada. Doubtless many of these geeks were dismayed that none of the entrants made it more than seven miles along the 150 mile route.

True technoparanoiacs, however, were heartened and had a nice laugh whilst reading their newspaper over a nice cup of coffee this morning. Between this story and the continuing follies of the Loebner Competition, we have that much more time for John Connor to complete his training.


  1. I remember when the landmark for human creativity was that no computer could beat the human champion at chess. Now it appears that we are safe as long as no robots can commute.

    Maybe robots will develop a better mass transportation system.

  2. Terminator has been great as a barometer of the changing nature of computing technology. In the earlier Terminator movies the piece of hardware that survived was almost deified in a little lockbox and was the item of worship that led to the downfall of humanity.

    In Terminator 3, the realities of 2003 had overcome the dominance of hardware in the 1980’s and early 1990’s. The extremely quick viral nature of software was the technological dominance, rather than the graven image of a remnant of a destroyed Terminator. The movie had written its story around the reality of cheap ubiquitous powerful hardware and out of control replicable software.

    The real question about the latest DARPA challenge is, will it make the DC metro run on time? The teams performance in the desert, (7 miles before getting stuck) wasnt too far removed from the capabilities of the blue line.


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