Saturday, December 8, 2012

Cyber-bugs and World Domination! Another Pinky and the Brain scheme.

This brief article at the UK blog Talking Philosophy, discusses some recent research with beetles. It seems it is now possible to attach small backpacks to them, and control them, turning them into something like radio controlled aircraft. The beauty thing about this eh? Beetles are really sophisticated flying machines. Think about it. Swarms of remotely piloted bugs… the possibilities are endless. Now, it is probably true that these researchers are directly wiring the backpack to the controlling mechanism, but the article extrapolates into a radio controlled future, and assumes that at some point, the bugs can also be used as sensors (presumably using their sensory systems, modifying them, or inserting some others). It then briefly raises two ethical concerns; would we be enslaving the bugs, and is there anything wrong with modifying them in this fashion? I dare say these objections look a bit silly, as the author does admit. But anyway, it caused me to think of the Pinky and the Brain schemes:



At Acme Laboratories, the Brain is surfing the web, and reading the Talking Phil blog post. Pinky is twiddling his digits, looking on vacantly in the direction of the screen. This is no sure indicator that he is actually reading the post. Brain is intently scanning it, and growing agitated. He speaks:

 Pinky… are you pondering what I’m pondering? Have you read this piece from the UK?

He has managed to scan the headline, nothing more.

Zork! Why, what could we do with radio controlled Beatles Brain?

Don’t you see Pinky? They very well could be the missing piece in our quest for World Domination!

What? Didn’t we try that once before?



No, no. Not those Beatles you dolt. These beetles:



Oh. I get it Brain. We can steer them away from street lights so surfer dudes won’t waste their time filming them? Narf! Brilliant.

Pinky, your obtuseness astounds.

Oh. That’s embarrassing. I’ll have to get that taken care of. I didn’t think it showed.

No, no no! Listen. If we can insert micro miniaturized RC units in these coleoptra, we can create swarms at will. Millions of creature minions that will do our bidding!

                                                                           YES!


(On the other hand, if we can insert a micro miniaturized grey matter into your cranium Pinky, even that would be an improvement.)
Brain?

Precisely.

What?

Oh, never mind Pinky.

Brain?

*Sigh* What is it now Pinky?

I was wondering. Wouldn’t those beetles like miss their lives being taken over like that? Maybe they want to fly around street lights in the night. Zoink!

Pinky.

Yes Brain.

They’re beetles, not people. They cannot miss anything.

But, if they were genetically modified, if they’re genes had been spliced...

Shut up Pinky.

Brain, how are we going to radio control a swarm? How are we going to attach backpacks to all those beetles?

Amazing.

Send them a-mazing? How is running a maze going to help? Will there be cheese at the end? Can I run it too Brain? Please! Please!

No Pinky. No mazes. I’m simply amazed that you thought of a relevant critique. Never fear. I’ll find a way.

He pulls out a blue-print, and busily starts sketching a complex flow chart, explaining it as he goes:

Perhaps we can use the great beetle swarm to decimate crops!

 
 
Imagine, great swarms of bugs, a virtual cloud of mass consumption. We can direct them to the vast heartland of America. From there, a short step to World Domination! First, we’ll open up a chain of low cost grocery stores.. BrainyMarts, worldwide. Next, we’ll buy up crops, and store up foodstuffs. Next, we’ll go into large scale farming ourselves. Next, we’ll send the bugs to eat all the crops of our competitors. After that, we will have a monopoly on the world’s food supply. In return for absolute power, we’ll give food companies the crops, and we’ll have double coupon Thursdays at BrainyMart. Yes!

But Brain, if we run BrainyMart, won’t we have to deal with protests?

Why Pinky?

Either we’ll have union employees or NARF!

I sense a use of constructive dilemma here. Pinky, I’m impressed. Go on.

If we do have a unionized work force, they will strike, and we’ll have to work the weekend shifts and holidays.

I see Pinky…

And if we do not have a unionized work force, the unions will picket our stores and make life miserable for us anyway.

 Perhaps you are right Pinky. Maybe radio-controlled bugs are not the panacea I thought they were. Hell. Let’s call it a night Pinky. Maybe we can work the Christmas angle. Maybe the next episode. I’ll sleep on that.

Whatever you say Brain. Nighty-night. Narf!


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