posted on Nov, 21 2005 @ 09:39 PM
The psychology of Mecha obsession is that of the Knight Warrior which is a refusal of the 'socialized' (dehumanization) effect of warfare,
particularly in males who are not socially adept anyway.
OTOH, the economic reality of mechwarriorism is that if you take out the 7-10 guys in an infantry squad and replace them with technically /vastly/
more skilled 'ground crew' plus one pilot, you are removing an element of the money-in-out control by which generals demand budgets for billets and
the defense industrial base is maintained by Congressionally district-partisan payoff.
That's 'bad' at the power politics level, even if it can be made to work tactically.
And it never will.
Because, as so many others have pointed out, if you have a 300 ton, 50ft tall battlemech standing on BOTH feet, you will sink into the ground (through
pavement whatever) of 50-70% of the worlds surfaces.
Mecha also have another problem in that they 'seat' their pilots in cockpits which cannot possibly translate human analogue feedback movements /in
time/ to balance out all the limb reductor and gyro balancing actions needed for the robot to move.
And every time particularly one of the Japanese manga 'sword swingers' spins or jumps or or or. It is moving with accelerations on the order of
about 4-5G. While every time it /lands/ after such a movement (or is knocked down by a blow) you have the cat-spun-on-tail effect of inertially
multiplied impact force equal to or greater than falling off a 5 story building.
OTOH, for human scale systems there are still problems. Because any time you hitch your legs to something and that something moves faster than you
do, you risk breaking bones or ripping cartilage and ligaments as the force of the steel actuator is in effect transfered TO YOU. Not the other way
And this is why you could never use 'amplified' movement that required sensor-feedback. Because the inertial moment of the device would always lag
your intent and unless you moved _very_ slowly with multi-pace slow down and idler-AI stop (like a power adaptive transmission, as soon as intent was
sensed, the machine logic would gradually slow to an in-balance halt within a predictable spatial count), you would just rip yourself to pieces.
There is a bloody damn good reason why cheetahs and leopards look like they do.
And anything less than a cat like amplificiation of capability would be useles because, 'at cost', the only useful thing you can expect this
platform to do better than a vehicle is to play scout within a complex (builtup or otherwise elevated) terrainscape.
i.e. Leaping to a rooftop. Or running down a sidewalk ahead of a vehicle convoy looking for IEDs. Or climbing up stairs to support a forced entry
door breaker scenario.
NONE of which the macroscaled (i.e. non 'Mask' like) robo systems are apt to do well.
If it just lumbers along, as a load carrier, it will take fire. And if it carries heavy weapons or specialist sensors, that fire will be FIRST
targeted to kill it so that anybody standing beside it will be 'very grumpy' about their associative vulnerability and inability to leave it
We now use Gator (golf cart) type vehicles to carry our packs. And the Gator can motorvate along an Afghanian trail at 15-20mph. Leaving the
only-bodyarmor, water, weaponized (still a 50lb load) troops free to move out at about 6-8mph instead of their usual 4.
Which means that, after a HUGE catch up interval, we can typically catch Mullah Ackbar and his band of merry men who have all of a blanket and a bag
of rice plus two clips for their AK and maybe a recoiless round as they zip along from cache to cache like mountain goats at about 7mph constant.
It's time for a reality check folks.
1. Operative Psychology
For a primitive barbarian is that if he finds something abridging his territorial instincts, and it bleeds enough to give a satisifying shriek when he
kills it (especially if his buddy is watching), he will take the shot.
If it /never was alive/ and stands an excellent chance of killing him (if only through it's own friends) even if he hits it, he will avoid dying for
his god that day. Because he knows that man vs. machine is a trade of 20+ years and Sex vs. a 2-3hrs and an assembly line.
2. It costs 23 cents to make a 5.56mm bullet. Personal Body Armor won't stop a ricochet off the ground from shattering your femur and crippling you
for life. It won't stop a mine from taking that leg off at the knee or the nuts. It won't stop a sniper shot from blowing your brains out your
ears. The only difference is whether or not you can make the impact happen as a function of 'being there' (predictably at a point of interest or
transit choke) to make the shot happen. And having the accuracy _for range_ to get the hit.
3. Agility is scalar. A flea has 'superhuman' capabilities relative to it's small inertial mass. i.e. when you can be blown away by a strong
wind, having the muscle twitch capacity similar to a thumb flipped quarter is truly amazing. If you want to avoid being hit, you have to deny the
ingrained channelization psychology which begins when kindergartners are taught to walk down the right side of a school hallway between classes.
Man does not belong on a battlefield dominated by half mile per second autofire weapons. He never has. The reason being that he is so slow and
unagile as to be unable to avoid or leave the predictor zone by which AMBUSH gets first-shot dominant kills. And then the assymetric threat runs
The real threat of a terminator type robotic synth is not that you can make one machine so tough 'while looking like a man'. But rather that you
can make HUNDREDS of men, as machine standins, in hours not years.
As such, the process of dehumanization and certainly deoccupancy of the battlespace is not going to reverse with the use of anthropomorphic fighting
suits (DARPA's Pitman project goes back to the late 70's IIRR). It's going to accelerate.
Why? Because a robotic cat along the lines of Asimo could move like a leopard. Shoot a .22 caliber weapon that looks like a small fountain pen with
the accuracy of a sniper. At 100m or 10.
And talk the local dialect, perfectly, while 'interviewing witnesses' in the hunt for an IED emplacement team that would literally never see it's
2ft tall mass coming at their feet to bite them with a neurotoxin that leaves them paralyzed 'for later recovery and further interrogation'.
That it would do so 'selflessly' (no need to run away, if damaged, wait for relief or blow up in the enemy's faces as they come up to you) in packs
of 10-100 whose total production run cost could be less than what it takes to train a single platoon (50 men) of infantry.
Is what makes it scary.
For a single battalion of such robots, inserted at a border, could stalk and kill an entire conventional army (as we know it today) and win wars by
depopulating the human factors of their leadership and logistics.
That Wars Are Won In The Will (Well fed, Well led='W2 Factor'). Not the fighterplane. Not the tank. Not the sub or ship. But THE WILL. And the
ultimate 'guerilla' intimidation-of-assymetry of force is that which makes blood realize it could easily be murdered in place without ever having
fought a similar chunk of flesh for ownership of the dirt it's standing on.
With that in mind, the old saying that 'Only the dead have seen the end of war' is proven to be an outright lie. Because //only the living// can
realize they must outgrow conflict before it's autonomously superior tools outgrow them.