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Nature 1: Robot Insects 0

This is a strange tale, but none the less true. WowWee Robotics has started making robotic dragonfly toys. These toys fly with swiftly beating wings. Made of plastic and metal, they resemble an actual dragonfly, but are a hundred times larger - slightly bigger than your hand.

These are then remote controlled, to fly around the room, or fly around outside.

The problem is, when they go outside, they are grabbed by birds of prey.

This is a growing trend with robotics; the mimicry of life. The problem comes in that our robotic systems are nowhere near as adept at survival in the wild, as the life they mimicry.

The WowWee dragonfly is just a toy, but other robotic systems are not. DARPA is working on electronically controlled cyborg cockroaches.

The cyborgs - half insect, half robot - are created by inserting tiny devices into the bodies of larva or pupa stage insects, such that the mechanisms become part of their bodies and ultimately allow them to be moved by remote control.

The scenario here is suddenly no different to the WowWee. A single spy cockroach could and almost certainly will be gobbled up by any number of enemies, on its quest to find information out, in or around an enemy building. By remote controlling it, its natural defensive instincts are overridden, and our AI systems cannot as yet, replicate them well enough to take over.

Other efforts are focussed on the creation of tiny UAVs, spy aircraft no bigger than a butterfly or moth. At the moment, these still fly only within lab spaces, but as soon as the first robot butterfly flutters out into the wide world beyond, it is almost certain to be swooped upon by a bat, or a bird. Even a larger insect. All of which, purely have lunch on their mind.


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