Monthly Archives: February 2011

2% of US Land Forces in Afghanistan are Robots

According to Lt. Col. Dave Thompson, USMC commander of cybernetic warriors, or chief robot wrangler, there are over 2000 military bots in Afghanistan. Doing the math, this means about one out of fifty soldiers are robots. It needs to be said, that this number is only the number of bots deployed, not the number that are actually utilized.

Also, Thompson was only counting land bots, not the aerial drones that get all the headlines, and movies. These bots are the bomb defusing Talons, PackBots, and few other mine clearing bots. Notably missing from Afghanistan are SWORDS, Talons fitted with M-60s and other goodies. Those were withdrawn from the battlefield after they went berzerk during their deployment in Iraq. (“Kill-bots want peace too; but programs must complete.”) Also missing from this list are the more advanced bots, such as self driving cars, and of course everyone’s favorite BigDog.

Mothballing an Assembly Line

The last F-22 Raptor will roll off the assembly line in Marietta, Georgia next year. While there are no plans to restart the line, the existing 184 planes are expected to be in service until 2040. Over the next 30 years, the planes will be repeatedly upgraded and overhauled. In order to smooth the process, the Air Force ordered Lockheed to place the tools, dies, and other equipment needed in manufacturing into storage.

As the last plane moves through the line, workers will disassemble and crate each machine. Each crate gets labeled with an RFID tag indicating its contents, and then placed in shipping container, and shipped off to the Sierra Army Depot for storage.

However, Lockheed is going a step further. Not only are they archiving all the material and technical plans needed to make a Raptor, they’re also attempting to record all the unwritten knowledge that the assembly workers have learned in their years of building these planes. Archivists are filming, photographing, and interviewing workers performing their jobs. All this knowledge will then compiled into what Lockheed terms a “smart book.” Lockheed hopes that this record will help preserve some of the institutional memory about the Raptor, especially since Lockheed claims to have reduced the manufacturing time of a single plane by a third since production started eight years ago.

Blood Wars

Blood Wars by the Vampire Study Group is an art game where players have a sample of their blood drawn to determine who has the toughest immune system. In each battle, the the players’ white blood cells are extracted and stained different colors and then mixed together. Whoever has the most surviving cells after a period of time, advances to the next round, until there’s a champion.

Blood Wars is currently showing as part of the Visceral exhibition of living art at the the Dublin Science Gallery. This art show feature work that use living cells as part of their art. Bioreactors and living tissue samples are in legion. It’s