It's been an incredible weekend of robot-on-robot action here in Atlanta. Were it not for the taco salad I had at the Georgia Aquarium Experience, I would be full only of inspiration. As it is, my thoughts are somewhat tempered by my biliousness. I thought that the aquarium would be an interesting counterpoint to RoboCup. Fish are, after all, Nature's robots (along with insects). Instead the whole experience sent me spiraling downwards, causing me to wonder if these stunning achievements of technical prowess are really just a distraction from the real problems that our facing our planet. I don't want to Gore you to death, but here are a few thoughts on where we're heading.
First of all, the Georgia Aquarium is like a big, wet shopping mall. The whale sharks are sponsored by Home Depot. The last vestiges of wildness have now been tagged and tanked. So, instead of seeking adventure out in the world around us, we sit in our metaphorical basements creating images of ourselves that have the sole purpose of serving us.
Sometimes by getting us a Coke...
...and sometimes by playing soccer. Which is awesome. But still, my point is that the world we're creating through technology is no match for the world we're destroying (largely through technology).
For one thing, this new world has an agenda: to make us lazier, and in the process manipulate and co-opt us. It can be argued that the old world had an agenda too: to eat us. But that was an agenda that we seemed peculiarly well equipped to deal with, and even learn from. Ok, I'm not arguing that we should return to the olden days, but just that we shouldn't expect too much from the days to come--at least not more than we deserve. Even if, by 2050, we have created robots able to defeat a team of cloned David Beckhams will that really be worth this huge, weird looking white fish?