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A robot exoskeleton that actually works November 27, 2007

Posted by Al in : cool,robots , trackback

The idea of having a robotic exoskeleton has been around for a long time (witness Aliens and many SF stories from before), but it has not yet managed to actually make it to production. One of the main flaws has been that any exoskeleton developed so far has been big, clunky and awkward to use. However, there is a new exoskeleton on the block, and it really seems to work – the video shows it’s user catching balls, punching a speedball and dancing. It looks as though the difference here is in the software, as previous exoskeletons have always had the power, but no finesse, and now the software actually allows the user to control the exoskeleton intuitively.

What’s slightly more worrying/disturbing is that there are plans for the exoskeleton to continue functioning after the user has left it. I seem to remember a number of SF stories from the Golden Age where battlesuits continued to wage war, or pursue other activities, long after their operator had left or passed away, and I wonder what kind of controls would be put in place to prevent this. Who knows, with Skynet about to be launched, maybe Terminator was not so far fetched after all.


1. Wesley - December 19, 2015

in the beginning of your post, the tcghnoloey itself doesn’t really take sides, it’s the person behind it that is making the decision. Although this is certainly true, I believe that tcghnoloey’s effect on our culture influences our judgment. Taking a step back from the exoskeleton, let’s look at the issue with respect to modern firearms. Before guns, killing a person required a certain amount of effort. The murderer would have to outsmart or outfight his victim. Now that committing that heinous crime is as easy as pulling the trigger, it makes the act effortless. When the act is effortless, our thought process is impaired. Regardless of the act in question, we always try to find the easiest solution to our problems, and the easiest route always seems to take priority. Without factoring in all the moral wrongs in murder, shooting someone is easy. When there’s a psychopath behind the trigger, who doesn’t care about morals, going postal with the first gun he can find seems like the best solution, solely because it’s the easiest . Now, with that grim outlook of humanity in mind, let’s look back at the exoskeleton. Although we’re quite far away from having our own Master Chief, the implications of this tcghnoloey are similar to that of firearms. When it’s easier to exert our soldier’s superpowers on others than it is to negotiate with them, we will become the trigger-happy psychopaths that we fear today. Our invincible soldiers will tower into battle, unable to be killed by those without exoskeletons, and free to raise hell against those who are unprotected. This is the sort of the dehumanization that comes with these ability-altering technologies.Although that’s a pretty bleak outlook on the tcghnoloey, it’s definitely not humanity’s only road. With close eye kept on the developing tcghnoloey, and regulation of its use, we just might be able to become benevolent super men .