Sunday, September 9, 2012

Not with a bang, but a click-click-click-screee...

Before I begin the usual weekly business of trying to put together a vigorish on what event is actually going to end up wiping out the human race (and believe me, I think I may have cinched it this week), I'd like to take a moment to broadcast some happy news. Last year, the good folks over at Cover of Darkness Magazine were kind enough to buy a short story from me called The Dust Bearer. The story was released in April's issue, which just topped the bestseller list over at Sams Dot Publishing. For those of you who have read the story (or for that matter anything I write ever, including this blog), I wanted to take a moment and thank you from the bottom of my heart. Please feel free to drop me a line anytime, I cannot express how grateful I am, to all of you.

If you haven't had a chance to check out the issue, by all means do so. Aside from my own humble offering, there's a lot of great stuff inside. My 2 favorites are Corrie Ralston's Killing Cormac, and Last Breath, by Doug Russell. All of the stories are pretty top notch though, and it's no wonder that the issue has had such a popular run.

Here's a link to the site, in case you're interested.

Anyway, now that we've got all the warm fuzzy stuff out of the way, let's talk about DARPA, or as we will someday refer to them: The engineers of human extinction.

Not to take away from any of James Bonds's accomplishments, but in the early days it wasn't like he was having a difficult time tracking his enemies. If you recall from the halcyon Sean Connery/Roger Moore era, the agency Bond was more often than not in charge of foisting was named SPECTRE. Their CEO was a sinister bald mad scientist with hideous scars covering half of his face, who built massive laser cannons and weather machines inside volcanoes. I mean, if you're going to be that not subtle, then you can't blame anyone but yourself for the fact that even the boozed-up secret agent with the raging chlamydia eventually caught on to the fact that you're up to some shenanigans.

He and Kim Jong Il went to the same tailor. True story.

Nowadays, evil corporations aren't quite as obvious. Mad scientists look quite similar to the normal ones. And more often than not, you can't spot them just because they have sinister sounding names like SPECTRE, or Blackwater - wait that's a real one?

(Okay, scroll back up to that other picture and tell me they're not related somehow...)

Anyway, I'm getting sidetracked here. My point was there's this company with the almost adorable name of DARPA, and they seem to be building doomsday robots faster than you can say "Lock the doors and grab the shotgun, Betty-Sue". Take a gander at this:

That, my friends is their latest creation, the Cheetah. As its name implies, it moves horrifically fast. Here is a video of the thing sprinting along at an insane 18 mph. And that was 6 months ago. This week, the folks at DARPA announced that their latest model can outrun Usain Bolt . We can only imagine that whoever made that boast was stroking a cat while wearing a smile that didn't quite meet his diabolical, mismatched eyes.

Why even build something that can outrun a human being? Well, ask any mad scientist (or regular scientist) that question and you'll usually get some variation on the answer "We wanted to see if it could be done."

Oh well, it's a machine. They run on batteries, right? It's not like DARPA went ahead and built a robot that could, I don't know, feed itself. Right? Right???


That's another of DARPA's projects, called the Energy Autonomous Tactical Robot, or (I really wish I was fucking kidding about this, but I'm not) EATR for short. As in, "Eater". As in "I hunt down Biomass in the environment, and I fucking eat it."

The EATR manages to perform said task via those two appendages you see - the pincer and the uh... the chainsaw - which grab the targeted biomass and then chuck said biomass into the... uh, um, fuck... the fucking furnace at its tail end. Seriously, I wish I was capable of making something this scary up.

But what is "biomass", you ask? Well, according to the talking heads that handle DARPA's public affairs, for the moment it's not us. They promise. The biomass targeted by the EATRbots is decaying vegetable matter. Here is an article that DARPA CEO Harry Schoell hopes will clear the whole matter up, but if you ask me, the minute you have to coordinate a press release to deny the allegations that you've created an intelligent robot that feeds on human flesh, it may be time to rethink your company's "Vision Statement".

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