for civilian goals. Especially after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States is actively seeking methods to improve its security and military effectiveness, some of which fall within the sci- ence of artificial beings. One direction for military research is the development of autonomous or semiautonomous weapons. Other re- search areas involve combating terrorism with biometric technology such as face recognition. Much of the latter research had been carried out under DARPA’s Information Awareness Office (IAO), directed by Admiral John M. Poindexter. Several IAO programs, including the Total Information Awareness project proposed in 2002, raised wide- spread alarm over issues of civil liberties and privacy. As a result, Congress eliminated IAO funding in late 2003, although part of these operations may be shifted elsewhere—a reminder that while we de- velop methods to combat terrorism, we must remain alert to possible misuse of these technologies.
Possible invasion of privacy, or worse, using the same technology
that gives us wondrous robots is one dark shadow that accompanies the introduction of artificial beings into our society. Another is their potential to replace human workers, first hinted at by Aristotle when he wrote of automated machinery, and now becoming a definite pos- sibility.According to orld Robotics 2002, the cost of robots is falling while the cost of labor is rising. This combination presents an eco- nomic imperative that rightfully concerns the working pool, espe-
cially older workers.
Bionic technology raises a different set of concerns.There is no question about the rightness of artificial implants for the ill and in- jured, but what if the technology becomes so good that perfectly healthy people can augment their abilities or their lifespans at their whim? While this possibility is far distant, we have learned something from the issues swirling around other forms of human alteration such as genetic manipulation; namely, technology that modifies people in unnatural ways or overturns old definitions of birth, life, and death raises moral and legal questions, and the earlier we consider these, the better.