Re: High-tech weaponry

Michael S. Lorrey (
Mon, 07 Jun 1999 13:29:39 -0400

"Eliezer S. Yudkowsky" wrote:

> 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.

I do like the SHAAK from Barnes trilogy as well, although he also had another type of gun called a NIF (Neural Induction Flechette) which could be lethal or non-lethal and the flechettes could cruise around an area for a period of time searching for targets...

> 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?

Information Unlimited has plans for a CO2 laser that conceivably could be shoulder mounted, and its of sufficient power to punch through steel

> 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.

any wave guide would have to be able to tolerate the energy density of the beam without degradation. For temporary blinding, high temp fiber optics would suffice, but any higher power and you'd need something else.

> 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.

Its easy to make a silenced flechette gun, you just need the permits to do so. Making a .22 bullet with a micro turbine engine or solid state solid fuel rocket thruster elements on its surface would do the trick. Guidance is the tricky part though, you'd need an AI guided laser designator for the bullet to home in on the target.

> 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.

I think that developing a .22 caliber warhead of this type would be a highly profitable means of pushing nano-micro technology. You essentially want to miniaturize a Maverick warhead by a factor of a couple thousand.

Mike Lorrey