New Cyborg Toys

"They're mindless monsters. They're killing machines. Controlling their movements is a good thing."

"Just giving them directions every now and then is better than killing them and eating them."

"They're just automatons. Really. They don't really have brains like us. Just bunches of interconnected nerves."

"We're not really even controlling them. Just encouraging them to go where we want them to."

"Hey, nobody complains when we put a bit in a horse's mouth and make it go where we want it to."

"Animals don't matter because they don't have souls."

"We're doing it to save American lives."

I wonder what the rationalizations would be if this project were officially exposed to the public. When you take a shark, fit it with a camera, control its brain by remote control, and plan in the future to be able to monitor its senses, you're creating a cyborg. You've made the ethical decision to re-engineer an animal and take control of its actions. All that remains is to think up justifications and sound bites for the PR campaign.

Do sharks feel pain or frustration? If so, how much pain would be acceptable? Does the defense department even have an ethics department?

And what about animal spies? How long before we have wired-up gulls for aerial surveillance? I don't fear the coming of ubiquitous surveillance, whether it be by animal-based cyborgs or a multiplicity of stationary hidden cameras. Why? Because I figure it's inevitable. The best we can do is try to limit its abuse. Given the way the US government is currently respecting the privacy of its citizens (i.e. happy to throw away the constitution by claiming they are at "war"), there is little chance of any future privacy. Maybe honesty and sanity will hold out a little longer here in Australia. Still, it's only a matter of time. We'll learn to live with it, just as we've come to live with the hidden security cameras in shops.

I blogged too soon. It is public and they have ethical approval (details not stated).