The future, here, already, just getting organized with four feet instead of two. This magical video of a robot mule from DARPA-funded (Marine Corps-funded) Boston Dynamics points to the way forward for Planet Earth and Planet N. The joy of the robot mules climb moves me to review how we got to here, five hundred years after Columbus pushed the Spanish crown and its bottomless appetite for gold, and perhaps also the silks and ceramics of the plague closed Silk Road, into the New World. Spoke Charles Mann, author of the sweeping "1493," re the last five hundred years of the age of Homogenocene, that is the melting together of Europe and Asia and African genomes in the New World of North and South America. What was compelling cycle after cycle, from the Spanish to the Portuguese to the English invaders, from the African to the Asian forced labor, was that humans had to coexist with the pandemics of malaria and yellow fever.
(Above: "Outland" (1981) illustrated by Jim Steranko appeared in Heavy Metal Magazine in the June 1981, October 1981, and January 1982 issue.)
Slavery and Robots.
A robot civilization solves the problem of the genomes for the worlds to be conquered ahead -- no fear of pandemics, hostile climates, even unbearable gravity. What happened in the New World (and the African coast) was the European overlords were wiped out while the African workers (bearing antigens that made them resistant to malaria) survived. The death rate for British troops in West Africa was 48% and 63% per year, while the African troops enjoyed a 3% death rate. Slavery was as much driven by the limitations of evil air (mal- aria) of the natural resources and planting treasures (tobacco, sugarcane, coffee, cotton) as it was by greed. For our next Homogenocene entrepreneurial trick, over the next five hundred years, goodbye to all that cruelty and corresponding savagery, and Welcome robot mules! Also, the mountain of silver discovered in the Andes, the Viceroyalty of Peru, at Potosi, led to the enslavement and destruction of tens of thousands of Andean peoples from 1540 to 1740, in a grotesque transformation of Planet Earth into a science fiction worthy Hell planet. Mining robots to work asteroids (and the hydrocarbon paradise of Titan) will turn the solar system into a vast version of Potosi meets Butte, Montana. The robot era is perfectly times for the Age of Planets. What can go wrong? Robot marauders in the service of the usual conquistadors, but those chapters are unwritten and exciting to contemplate (see trailer for the very cool Sean Connery sci-fi "Outland" 1981, below). Columbus and his three robots, Nina, Pinto, Santa Maria, Cortes and his robot posse, set sail for the Rings of Saturn. The dawn of the Homorobocene?