High-tech weaponry

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (sentience@pobox.com)
Sun, 06 Jun 1999 23:59:04 -0500

Eugene Leitl wrote:
> I think if we restrict the discussion to technologically advanced
> weapons (depleted uranium vs buckshot, particle beam vs. Uzi) and
> keep the politics out of it things would be perfectly appropriate for
> this list.

Okay. If I'm voting for "Guns I'd most like to have", I nominate the SHAKK from "Patton's Spaceship" by John Barnes, the Lazy Gun from "Against a Dark Background" by Iain M. Banks, and the willygun from "Sten" by Alan Cole and Chris Bunch. Star Trek's phasers get a runner-up nomination.

Back in real life, I've heard rumors of an amateur shoulder-mounted "bazooka" laser, I believe pulsed infrared, that could punch through steel. Anyone hear anything about that?

I've had some ideas about nonlethal and inconspicuous self-defense for the extremely rich. I'd like to see two things: First, a pulsed laser that would automatically target enemy eyes and render them blind for a few minutes without permanent damage. Preferably the bulk of the laser would be on your belt, which would pump into an optical fiber (can lasers do that?), and the targeting equipment would be a small, motorized mirror set in your shirt button.

The real challenge, I think, would be the targeting, which would require visual AI plus some way of picking one face out of a crowd. There are methods that can track where your eyes are focusing, and I think once you used that to indicate the face, then neural-networks vision is good enough to pick out the eyes. So I think this is actually possible, although it would be expensive. You'd also need a way to indicate an order to fire; probably a particular pattern of bent fingers.

The second thing I'd like to see would be some way of launching something like small bullets (but preferably without the noise) that could automatically target guns and knock them out of someone's hand. Pretty much the same tech as the eye-targeting laser, I think, except that it'd be harder to make it inconspicuous.

If you can do all that, then you have "sufficiently advanced technology". Consider: Person A pulls a gun. Person B raises her hands in a peculiar gesture. Person A's gun is knocked out of his hand and he shouts "Aargh, I'm blind!" How's that for using the Force?

Obviously this is way more expensive than bodyguards, but it'd be more fun.

           sentience@pobox.com          Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
Running on BeOS           Typing in Dvorak          Programming with Patterns
Voting for Libertarians   Heading for Singularity   There Is A Better Way