At the Toyshop of Doom
DSEi - toys for the homicidal boy
Pictures Today sees the opening of DSEi, the UK's biggest weapons and kill-tech trade show. The whole ExCel centre in the Docklands is full of exhibitors showing off their guns and gadgetry. The place is packed with generals and admirals looking to snap up the latest must-have piece of kit.
You like guns? We have many. Also, portable compression chambers in case you get the bends.
Lots of people, needless to say, reckon that making stuff for fighting and killing with is just plain wrong: and indeed Reed, the operators of DSEi, are looking to sell the show off to someone. But they say that's just because it doesn't really fit with their core business, not because it involves nasty yucky guns and stuff.
Suits you, sir. Go on, feel it. Feel it, sir. And robots? But of course, sir.
Here on the Reg killer-robot desk, we take a more nuanced view of death tech.
We're against scattering cluster bomblet submunitions in school playgrounds as much as the next chap. We don't like paying triple price for kit that arrives late and doesn't work any more than any other taxpayers. Often we wonder whether we actually need a lot of the shiny exploding stuff the government buys on our behalf - the more so at a time when it pays combat soldiers about half what it does a fireman. We're not happy with how things are in Iraq, either. But we thought the Falklands was adequately righteous; and Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Timor, Gulf War I etc.
How about a stealth corvette? Scandinavian quality. And HUDs - not just for fighter pilots any more.
And, shamefully no doubt, we like a really big explosion - along with plenty of other action-movie fanciers. We like hardware that does cool things. Not to put too fine a point on it, some of us quite like guns. And we especially like digital gadgets - even if we sometimes doubt their usefulness. (Well, this is the Reg.) Digital gadgets attached to guns? Even better.
Bighorn - for when a small horn just won't do. And you know you want one of these wing things (article to follow).
So we're actually pretty chuffed to be at DSEi, and we'll be bringing you lots of military gadget coverage over the next few days. As a taster, here are a few snaps from around the halls. ®
Yeah, you're absolutely right about the porous state borders thing, and (though a little extreme) I do agree with your comments about fighting, which are especially poignant these days when if some thug starts on you and you push him over and he accidentally dies you'll almost certainly do lots and lots of time...
I guess the problem boils down to this: if the world was mature enough for everyone to carry guns without massive adverse effects, then they wouldn't make things any safer.
The reason I believe it would be a massive problem is the rampaging herds of chavs and general idiots; the people who are irrational and quick to anger and perceive everything as 'disrespect' as they don't have the capacity to properly analyse anything. These antagonists used to be into fighting. Over time the bar has been raised and now they're more disposed toward stabbing - do we really want to raise the bar further?
*goes back to his Daily Mail* ;)
I disagree with your comments regarding the irrelevance of morality in human behaviour.
Social Darwinism has been used to justify the most base behaviour by everybody from the eugenicists of the 1940s to the free-market libertarians of today, but the actual basis for SD is not logical. You espouse the arguements made by the religious in the face of rising atheism; if there's no god, then nothing matters, so we may as well behave as savages. To be an atheist is to be a savage. As Dawkins is fond of pointing out when confronted by this line of reason, are you really suggesting that the only reason religious people refrain from murder and rape is because they're scared of God? I take it that you are yourself an atheist (as am I) and are viewing this element of human behaviour through the prism of your disenchantment with the moralizing hypocrisy of the church, but you are mistaken. If anything, secularism has been an overwhelmingly positive force for tolerance and freedom; you cannot argue that human behaviour is becoming less civilised - how many vegetarians do you think there were in England 100 years ago?
There is such a thing as morals. Although they're intangible, they are none the less universal. The same moral standards apply across all human societies regardless of level of socioeconomic or technological development, race, or religion. I'm not going to go into the detail, but these things have been objectively studied by psychologists and philosophers, and they find that when presented with moral scenarios (is it morally justifiable to kill an innocent person in order to save the lives of 5 others? etc) that the answers are the same. You may argue they're not based on anything real, because there is no god, but your own arguement (we're just doing what comes naturally) is based on the same premise; that intrinsic human behaviour is a real force. As you say, justice exists because it has been invented.
More importantly, even if it is in human nature to kill and conquer, that does not mean we have to shrug our shoulders in the face of the inevitable. It is in human nature to enslave the vanquished, to rape, to steal, but we have power over our impulses. You are absolutely correct that a certain section of society will follow these impulses, and will not regret them. The murderers of Darfur probably will die old and powerful, but I don't think that we should sell them weapons just because they're always going to be out there.
In the 21st century we do have alternatives to hitting civilians with pointy pieces of metal when we're not happy with the way their leaders behave, and our economy really does not hinge on selling exquisitely designed killing machines to second rate despots obsessed with keeping up with the Joneses.
South African G5 and G6.