Regarding war and technology, I'd forgotten about the suggestion to use nukes in Nam--that would have been insane. And yes, 9/11 is a good example of a lower tech enemy trumping a high-tech nation. Interestingly, the Lawrence of Arabia biography I read recently points out that Lawrence's work fighting the Turks with the desert Bedouin pretty much started modern guerilla warfare, especially the use of explosives, in the Middle East. A mixed blessing. I highly recommend the biography--"Hero" by Michael Korda--for the history of the times as well as for the info about Lawrence.
I just saw a web posting of a robotic creature that could jump up onto buildings and then jump off of them and get away. It was quite impressive, and it would certainly be a handy tool to deal with rooftop snipers, both for fighters and the police. But for dealing with IED challenges the directed energy device will probably be the solution in that it is able to detonate the weapon while it is still being transported, but if accidently directed at an innocent party they just experience a hot flash. That feature will save a lot of lives, I hope. I am not permitted to divulge any more information.
You make a really good point that it's not always technology. I think Vietnam was lost because of restrictions on engagement (and thank goodness for those limitations). It was suggest we use nukes in Vietnam, which certainly would have altered the outcome. So technology could have won -- as horrible as that would have been.
Another example to support your point of low-tech advantage in war was 9/11. The enemy confiscated our technology and succeeded with a willingness to kill civilians.
As for the earthworm, I was just postulating. And I enjoy very much your articles on biomimicry.
Robots that walk have come a long way from simple barebones walking machines or pairs of legs without an upper body and head. Much of the research these days focuses on making more humanoid robots. But they are not all created equal.
The IEEE Computer Society has named the top 10 trends for 2014. You can expect the convergence of cloud computing and mobile devices, advances in health care data and devices, as well as privacy issues in social media to make the headlines. And 3D printing came out of nowhere to make a big splash.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.