Love that war! As regular readers of Technobabble know, I have had a less-than-healthy relationship with the online game World of Warcraft . Anyone who has played this game who is marginally attracted to video games can tell you this is the Holy Grail of gaming. It is a very addicting game anyway you slice it. With some 8 million players in seven languages worldwide and holding more than a 50 percent share of the Massively Multiplayer Online Game market, I know I was not alone in my previous addiction to WoW. This industry is making more than $1 billion a year! World of Warcraft tops the subscription list with Rune Scape, Final Fantasy Online, Everquest and Everquest II following in that order, according to Screen Digest.
Dr. Roboto At the beginning of the year I brought up a 246-page report that outlined challenges we as a society may face in the coming 50 years, including the possibility of a robots’ bill of rights. Three months later we see it actually happening: A five-member team of “experts” including futurists and a science fiction writer in South Korea are putting together a Robot Ethics Charter to be released this year.
The South Korean government is pouring millions of dollars into robotic research, predicting that robots will be conducting regular surgery by 2018 and that every South Korean household will own a robot between 2015 and 2020. The bill could not come any sooner, as robots are already being built to induce terror. No, not built in the U.S. to be used in Iraq or Afghanistan, but built in England to be used against “sky rats.” The Liverpool City Council is paying close to $40,000 for a fleet of 10 robo-falcons to scare off pigeons and seagulls. These fiberglass and electronic peregrine falcons can only move their heads and flap their wings, but city officials are hoping this will be terrifying to a pigeon. I used to have a plastic owl outside my bedroom window for the same purpose, and pigeons used to perch on it.
Violence of the Lambs Snakes on a Plane didn’t win any Oscars, but the Internet build-up was award-winning. There is a similar film soon to screen from New Zealand, but instead of deadly serpents, these characters are dealing with killer, genetically modified sheep. Though Internet Movie Database gave it only 6.5 points out of 10, Black Sheep looks to be a good, scary laugh. But do all genetically modified animals lead to horror and mass killings?
The National Academy of Science journal is reporting on a group of U.S. scientists who are working on a genetically modified mosquito that will be immune to malaria. The idea is that once these GM insects are introduced into the general mosquito population, they will outlive and eventually overcome the non-GM mosquitoes as the life of the insect itself is shortened by the disease. Nearly 300 million people fall ill to malaria each year and about 1 million die from the disease. Scientists are also inserting a green fluorescent protein gene into the mosquitoes, which makes their eyes glow green. That sounds scary.