DARPA in Tom'n'Jerry robo-brain quest
First they came for the mice; and I said nothing
Pentagon boffinry chiefs are on the verge of inking a deal which could see US forces equipped with "neuromorphic" imitation brain modules, each potentially as intelligent as a cat.
Wired magazine reports that HRL Labs of Malibu initially announced a firm deal on the feline-grade artibrain contract, referred to by the US military as Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics (SyNAPSE). However the company later corrected this to say that actually negotiations with the government continue.
One need hardly say that the US gov tentacle in question is none other than DARPA, the famed warboffin bureau which often sneers at ivory towered, white coated mainstream science, preferring instead the straitjacket, the padded cell, the dungeon laboratory and the insane foam-lipped laugh.
The SyNAPSE project seems like a good example of this. According to DARPA, regular electronic computers are no good for dealing with real-world problems.
Modern electronics has evolved through a series of major developments (e.g., transistors, integrated circuits, memories, microprocessors) leading to the programmable electronic machines that are ubiquitous today ... these machines are of limited utility in complex, real-world environments ... As compared to biological systems for example, today’s programmable machines are less efficient by a factor of one million to one billion ... biological neural systems (e.g., brains) autonomously process information in complex environments by automatically learning ... neuromorphic electronic machines would be preferable in a host of applications ...
For instance, your regular cat can easily jump up onto a fence requiring only binocular video to do so. A robot felinoid combat system using normal computers would need some kind of 3D mapping lasers or something, would still be likely to cock up the jump, and its brain would be so large and power-hungry that the droid moggy would be the size and weight of a bull moose - probably destroying the fence even if it were successful.
Hence the quest for the artificial neuromorphic self-programming cat-bonce box. DARPA says in its proposal that the "final deliverable" hardware would be "a multi-chip neural system" which would enable robotic platforms to perform "at 'cat' level".
Intriguingly, the DARPA boffinry chiefs specify that before the "go" decision to develop a cat-level neuromorphobrain can be given, the selected contractors must first develop a "'mouse' level" system. However, they don't want to see any kind of bizarre, multimillion dollar robotic Tom and Jerry antics, no sir.
The animal tokens (e.g. “mouse”) ... are indicators of complexity; they are not intended to specify particular architectural requirements or environmental behaviors.
But there is a chilling warning buried deep in the DARPA outline (word doc). The big brains at the Pentagon aren't just looking to put cats and mice out of a job. They are also looking for "a means to scale the complexity of these tasks over the entire range of mammalian intelligence".
Read the Wired report here, and tremble at the imminent obsolescence of your puny mammalian intelligence. ®
Bio-Boolean Boffinry (bah)
@ Herby: "Herding cats. Many have tried, none succeeded!"
Not so - I do it whenever I find it necessary to amass a veritable Feline Battalion to force my point upon the world by Resolute Means(tm). The means of leading large numbers of cats at will is as follows:
1) Lead from 'Way Out Front instead of (as is most common in Whiteman-Land) from the rear.
2) Soft Cat Food. Anything from Mixed Grill on through Seafood Surprise will likely do. The battle cry, of course, is a hearty "Heeeere, Kittykittykitty! M'YOW! M'YOU!".
But there is a caveat to being a Top Cat Monkey-General of the Feline Planetary Occupation Forces: Best have enuf Soft Cat Food to go around, or you are next. Case in point's that fine black-coated cat o' mine who's just now back on the dinner table for the nineteenth time: Natural Law. (There goes the butter dish!) Even the big-hearted and well-beloved Reverend General Butt-Naked of Moggadishu knows about that sort of thing.
"Even"? Hmph. <ACK!> (Pfff-ff-ttt!)
Anywho, the Darker Regions just might have won out from the get-go on this one. The Republic of Haiti, for example, has (by rumour) allegedly possessed this manner of bio-Boolean weaponry for /quite/ some time now. Ole Miz Lucy's spied out the recipe and logic hookup for the basic carbon-based mobile /cadavre/ unit back in '04, so who knows how long the melanin-impoverished nations of this world have been Blissfully Unaware(tm) of this shadow-lurking Terrorwar Bio-Boolean Threatdown banging about in uttter illlegalized Freedom(tm) off our very shores?
It's documented in plain English right here, for those who ain't yet in on it:
The Boffin, 'cause these Hidden Truths have always stood in utter natural harmony with the very thing that all manner of Gummint-Gone-Awry always has pitted itself futilely tho' fiercely against, time after time, caring nothing for the Repeating History Factor of it all. (Let a well-motivated full division of Badgers living and undead alike be loosed on 'em all from an Undisclosed Location should our long-standing negotiations toward full genuine Liberty ever be traitiorously thwarted!) You'll know when it's on by the www.badgerbadgerbadger.com battle cry: "Mushroom Mushroom!"
As for cats: I say no more.
The right mini-sized fuel cell and a wee high-pressure canister of Hydrogen's just the ticket for those Long Waddle-Marches Toward Total Victory, btw. The whole rig mounts up in the belly cavity just fine. (Use carpet thread in the sewing-up for best results.)
The lab coat, of course. Thank'ee.
Ok, so the military isn't always the brightest, but do cats really come that much higher up the evolutionary ladder than Marines? I'm guessing the cat is calling the shots, anyway...
I'm waiting to see...
...a marine, in the middle east, sitting outside an APC with a tin of Whiskas going
"Heeeere kitty kitty kitty"
And a tank oversteering round the corner and nuzzling up to him with it's turret.
Because that's about the only way any of my cats have ever succumber to orders - otherwise they were a law unto themselves all the time...