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« Hardware Over Humans | Main | The Flight Director's Nightmare »

Send In The Robots

Well, in some ways I'm glad that I was driving through Big Sur yesterday, instead of listening to the always-ignorant reporting on the latest space disaster. It probably saved my television screen. This morning, I wanted to throw something at Stephanopoulous, when he twice asked the idiotarian question, "is it time to retire the Shuttle and just let the robots do it?"

Do what, George? Do WHAT?

What are we trying to accomplish in space? That is the question that is never asked, and it's the most important one. Everyone simply assumes that they know the answer, and that everyone else knows the answer as well, and that we are all in agreement--we know what we want to do in space (science and research) and the only question is whether it should be done with humans or robots.

If we finally, this time, get a serious discussion going about space policy in this country, for the first time in over forty years, then the loss of Columbia will be worth it, but based on what I'm already hearing from the idiot box, the prospects seem slim.

Posted by Rand Simberg at February 02, 2003 10:41 AM
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Scrappleface on Risk Aversion:

Posted by Parabellum at February 2, 2003 11:34 AM

I remember when Pathfinder landed on Mars. More than one of the people involved in that project made statements to the effect "this proveds that we don't need to send people there" and "this is almost as good as being there."

The TV generation speaks. It's better sit back and watch someone else's life than life one of your own.

Posted by Raoul Ortega at February 2, 2003 11:38 AM

ANother thought-- recently a group of people died in an avalanche in British Columbia. I noticed in the crawl yesterday a report of six more avalanche deaths. I don't know about yesterday's fatalities, but the earlier group was a heliski tour group. Note that these people died playing games. Yet yesterday an equivalent number of people died, and the response is that we must shut down manned space travel because it's too dangerous, and "let the robots do it."

What am I missing? Why is dying during play adventure acceptable, while during real adventure to be avoided at all costs?

(Sorry about all the posts, but you've got me thinking.)

Posted by Raoul Ortega at February 2, 2003 12:04 PM

Just a note from a B.C. resident - there were 7 deaths in the avalanche mentioned, and it was a field trip. The school has suspended all further field trips indefinitely.

Posted by James at February 2, 2003 12:40 PM

You know, Rand, the funny thing is that in my circles (ignoran college kids and folks in the 'tech' outer realm, the news is more heartening than what you hear on TV (as usual).

"Our future is in space, and getting there reliably is tantamount" seems to be the sentiment.

Posted by DocZen at February 2, 2003 02:27 PM

Doc Zen,

The thing is, everyone I know feels that way, too. And has for the past fifteen years as we've gone absolutely nowhere. We're not who needs to be convinced - the country needs a specific vision and the political will to spend the money it will take. Absent that, all us geeks can keep being certain "our future is in space" and we'll all just keep sitting here on the ground wondering when it'll all start.


Posted by Brett A. Thomas at February 2, 2003 07:57 PM

Show me a robot with all the capabilities of a 5 year old and then we can talk about replacing humans with robots.

Posted by Shawn at February 2, 2003 08:14 PM

Once that happens, we can build a whole lot of other robots to form the tax base for robotic endeavors. Let em pay for their own fun, says I.

Posted by David Perron at February 3, 2003 09:17 AM

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