Death by ice-blocks

Military more like a video game every day

Man, I’d heard about DARPA’s new contest — the “Autonomous Ground Vehicle Challenge,” whereby they’re offering a “cash prize” to whoever can build the fastest robot to self-guide itself from L.A. to Las Vegas in 2004. And I knew that it was intended to help foster autonomous-vehicle technology, so that the military has ever more ways to send hunks of deadly metal — instead of real-live soldiers — into Arab nations, so we can kill real live Arabs without endangering ourselves. But whatever, I still think it’s a cool contest.

The thing is, the splash page for the contest looks almost eerily like a video-game box in Wal-Mart. Who designed this thing?

(And now that I think about, what the hell kind of metaphoric import are we supposed to get from a race that has robots fleeing L.A. for Vegas?)

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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