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March 27, 1982 - Image 4

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1982-03-27

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0

OPINION

4

Saturday, March 27, 1982.

University

robotics:

The

The Michigan Daily
military link

140

By John Schloerb
George Gamota, new director of the Univer-
sity's Institute of Science and Technology, has
made his presence on campus felt in a big way.
Fresh from his tenure as a director of research
at the Department of Defense and skilled in the
ways of the Pentagon, Gamota has been in-
strumental in helping University researchers
reap the benefits of the military's financial
bounty..
Since his arrival last summer, Gamota has
worked to direct more of the University's
research to military needs. One of his handiest
tools thus far has been the University's Center
on Robotics and Integrated Manufacturing.
Gamota, if successful in his efforts, may help
turn CRIM's future focus from its industrial
manufacturing potential toward providing a
haven for military innovation.
CRIM'S PRIMARY function is to design ad-
vanced automation technologies popularly
known as "robotics." These technologies in-
clude computer-programmed flexible
machines that can work in industrial jobs with
more precision-and less chance of going on
strike-than volatile human workers. Many
believe the results of CRIM research will lead
o a new industrial revolution.
I But what is also revolutionary about CRIM's
function is its potential for serving military en-

ds. Gamota has worked hard to provide defense
funds for the center. Earlier this year, the
University sent a three-year, $7.3 million
proposal for robotics research to the Air Force.
If accepted, this proposal would hike military
research at the University by a whopping 200
percent and would account for 70 percent of
CRIM's budget. If the proposal goes through,
CRIM's~ future research will likely be
dangerously oriented toward its most impor-.
tant patron-the military.
Industries and universities have frequently
relied on government support in the develop-
ment of new technologies. But the Air Force
now seems more interested than ever in
providing support for some innovative robots of
its own.
CURRENTLY, THE Air Force is asking for
$215.2 million in the 1983 fiscal year for a
manufacturing technology program. The Pen-
tagon is offering such support to industry,
however, for a very specific reason-to place
"the nation on a wartime footing when
required," as, reported in a recent edition of
Ayiation Week and Space Technology
magazine.
What specifically does the military hope to
get out of robotics? The Air Force is par-
ticularly interested;in building flexible robots
for producing things in limited numbers-such
as small "batches" of bombers or missiles.
These flexible robots could be reprogrammed

telligence that would duplicate the sense and
thought processes of humans. Such robots
could be adapted to make independent
decisions.
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE could be ap-
plied in jets with on-board computers or in
command and control systems to
automatically respond to enemy threats. As
Col. Clarence Gardner of the Air Force Office
of Scientific Research has said, "The artificial
intelligence techniques in manufacturing and
battlefield management are very similar."
The military applications of artificial in-
telligence continue. Artificial intelligence and
improved sensor capabilities are likely to ad-
vance new "smart" missiles, some of which
will be able to distinguish between targets,
destroying what .they are specifically
programmed to destroy. With this advanced
sensory technology missiles can actually "see"
their targets, much as the new robots will
"see.''
Ann Arbor's Environmental Research In-
stitute in Michigan is a leader in the develop-
ment of such sensor systems. ERIM was for-
med to take on the bulk of University projects
banned in 1972 by Regents guidelines restric-
ting classified research "any specific purpose
of which is to destroy human life." Now-ERIM
seems ready to play a large role in CRIM
research-ERIM -President William Brown
currently is a member of the CRIM Technical

Steering Committee.
TIMES CERTAINLY are changing. Ten
years ago, classified research advancing
destructive technologies was moved off cam-
pus. Today, unclassified research, apparently
destined to build bombs and bomb buildings, is
not only accepted but encouraged as a way to
pull the University and the state out of their
economic doldrums.
Promoters of military-sponsored research
often claim it is "basic research,'' whose ap-
plications-military or ,otherwise-are im-
possible to predict.
But the line between basic research and
research applied to a, military end is more
imaginary than real in the case of robots. For
example, the Commerce Department recently
showed interest in controlling information
from government-financed machine tool
research for national security reasons.
"That's very applied (research). We use
robots for making nuclear weapons," Deputy
Assistant Secretary for Export Administration
Bogdan Denysyk said recently.
Will robots designed by University scientists
build nuclear weapons? Nobody has a straight
answer for now. But isn't the likelihood cer-
tainly increased by asking the Air, Force to
fund CRIM?

al

Gamota discusses military research with
students.
to do different jobs each day, unlike current
robots that can do only one task.
The Air Force also hopes to do research into
visual and tactile sensors and artificial in-

0

Schloerb is a
Residential College.

sophomore

in the

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Stewart

Vol. XCII, No. 139

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

0
9

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board

Working on the budget

-RESIDENT seems determined
to rewrite the record books with
his proposed budget. But for the
record, almost everyone now agrees
that his budget amounts to unsound
fiscal policy.
President Reagan's budget has been
criticized by nearly everyone from
liberal congressmen to conservative
business leaders. Budget projections of
a record peacetime buildup of U.S.
armed forces. coupled with a recrd
deficit exceeding $100 billion have
provoked bipartisan revolt.
Not only Democrats, but
Republicans are now calling for budget
alternatives. The deficits must be
pared down, they argue. Even budget
director David Stockman is said to be
leaning in that direction.
It is all too obvious that Reagan's
budget has no chance of passing
through Congress unscathed. It is
equally apparent that the only logical
areas for cutting are the defense
allocations and the three-year tax cut,
enacted last year. .

Reagan, however, has made it clear
that the tax cut plan and the military
budget lie on sacred ground-there will
be no compromise. In his intransigen-
ce, Reagan has ignored opposition and
stuck to a budget policy that amounts
to an overblown reaction to the
Russian threat and a high stakes gam-
ble on supply-side economics.
As a candidate, Reagan chastised
Democrats for trying to solve the coun-
try's problems by throwing money at
them. But, ironically, his current
defense spending proposals do much
the same thing. Reagan is throwing
money at the Pentagon faster than the
military planners can spend it.
Congressional leaders from both
parties have indicated their
willingness to forego political squab-
bling and work on a compromise. They
are ready to tackle military spen-
ding and the deficit and attempt to
tame the Reagan budget. Now it is
time the president acknowledges his
budget needs work-and starts
working.

LETTERS TO THE DAILY:
No security with the arms race

I

r 7
WELA7r
7m
Alts~n*A! sA-'

.,.

To the Daily:
Must America secure rights
and liberties by "keeping pace
with and pushing ahead of the
Russians" in the arms race? I
and others in . the peace
movement think that we need not
and should not. But Scott
Sovereign makes an eloquent'
case for doing so in his letter
(Daily, March 15). His argumen-
ts for an arms race deserve
serious answers.
We in the peace movement are
concerned, like Sovereign, about
American security. Many of us,
including myself, agree that we
should defend our country with
arms if we are invaded. We are
anti-militarist, but not anti-
military. The question is rather
this-does pursuit of the arms
race, especially the nuclear arms
race, increase our security and

make us stronger? Sovereign
assumes that it does. He refers to
the old Roman- adage, "If you
desire peace, prepare for war."
But this is absolute nuclear non-
sense.
Nuclear weapons and the
nuclear arms race threaten all
that we wish to secure with utter
annihilation. Sovereign rightly
observes that new weapons make
warfare deadlier than it ever has
been. If he knew how much so he
might be less en'thusiastic about
its continued development. There
could be no winner of a nuclear
war; nothing worth preserving
could be preserved by one.
Nuclear weapons provide no
defense, because they cannot be
used without national suicide.
The frightening thing about the
arms race is that it makes this
unimaginable horror an in-

creasingly likely possibility.
Development of new, more ac-
curate, less detectable weapons
systems increases the-ability of
each side to destroy the other in a
surprise attack or "limited" war.
We are told that this will never
happen, that the weapons are
merely "deterrehts." But our
government has already of-
ficially abandoned the policy of
deterrence, and high officials

speak openly of "theatre"
nuclear wars and the like.
Sovereign says that he would
gladly lay down his life to preser-
ve America. I would not for a
moment question his right to do
this; in fact, I will second his
resolution. What I deny is his or
anyone's right to take everyone
else along with him. That is what
nuclear war would involve.
-Justin Schwartz
March 22

40

/.
..AI

0

Oversimplifyingfacts

Who 's the fascist?

To the Daily:
Concerning the Daily's article
on simple solutions to women's
problems (Daily, March 24), I
agree with Julie Engebrecht's
general idea of the need for more
female representation in the
University faculty. I also agree
that the history department's
decision not to offer a course in
women's history this coming fall
term has several negative aspec-
ts.
I would like to point out,
however, that Engebrecht is
mistaken in assuming that
historians only tend to focus on

most of the time such events are
the culminating result of
pressures or influences from
society's conditions or groups.
Nevertheless, valuable
historical research has been done
on individual groups or
movements explaining their' im-
portance to society. These
studies have been done not only
on women's history, but on all
forms of oppressed segments of
society such as blacks, hispanics,
etc.
One wonders in reading
Engebrecht's article, especially
when such a gross generalization

To the Daily:
I am writing in response to
Prof. T. M. Dunn's letter (Daily,
March 18) regarding the Daily
editorial on defense-sponsorgl

and genocide. It takes quite a
stretch of the imagination to
associate the Daily's editorial
with espousing fascism.
It comes as no surprise that
Prof. Dunn should wish to further

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