Military Robots predicted in 1950

The following article, taken from the Hartlepool Mail, 8th February, 1950, was titled “Introducing ‘Private Robot’”. It was written five years before transistors replaced valves (US vacuum tubes) in early computers. Even today, such a robot would not be easy for “engineers to build”.

Robots will replace the “footsloggers” in the next war, just as the tank replaced the horse in World War 1, according to Dr. O. M. Solandt, whose chairmanship of the Canadian Defence Research Board gives him equal rank with the military chiefs of staff, says a Reuter dispatch from Ottawa.

“Private Robot,” equipped with artificial hearing, sight, touch, smell, sensitivity to pressure changes, and the ability to make decisions, will fire the guns, man the ships, and fly the planes, sending reports and receiving orders by radio, he said.

Dr. Solandt, a well-known scientist, said his “soldiers” will remain cool and collected under heavy fire. Scientists already have the knowledge to produce such “men,” and it only remains for engineers to build them.

The machines will see by television, using infra-red light to see in fog or darkness, and will be sensitive, if necessary, to minute changes in light, sound or pressure. They may be equipped with sense of smell and will have electronic nerves, memories, and judgement.

The “muscles” which would power their limbs have been greatly improved. Electronic control systems make possible very quick and accurate control of large forces.

“Great progress has been made in converting all forms of information into transmittable electrical impulses,” Dr Solent explains. An example of this, he says, is the linking of two dial indicators by radio so that one needle immediately follows changes in the other – a principle which is already applied in aircraft repeater compasses.

“The central brain of such a system now offers the greatest possibilities for experimentation. Calculating machines are being made that will do many things that only a good human brain could do, and the machine will do them many times faster.”

Hartlepool Mail, 8th February 1950

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