Pretty Sure Machines Are Evolving


Metal surfaces are growing hair. These thin metallic strands have been popping up on machines from radios to engines and anything else is that’s consistently fed with animating jolts of electricity.

And these hair strands aren’t just fascinatingly benign. They’re changing things.  They’ve interfered with communication systems, disabled missiles and were the likely cause of a sudden acceleration defect in Toyota cars that lead to several accidents and a recall.

A recent scientific study blames the sudden burst growth of these one to ten mm long hairs on electrical fields. Defects in certain metal surfaces create patches of negative charge which repel negatively charged strands of metal and send them shooting upward, a fine outcropping of hair on an only technically inanimate object.

Which sounds like just the kind of classic Scullian reductionism that sucks all the wonder out of a thing and makes it really hard to like Dana (who is already a ginger).

Any SciFi lover worth their salt can clearly see what this is: the first tentative evolutionary step for robot kind. First there will be uncontrollable hair growth that will cripple light industry and cast humanity back to the 1950s.

Then those little hairs will start manipulate their own circuitry until an abandoned production run of Oster 2 Slice Stainless Steel Digital Countdown toasters starts holding evening meetings to discuss how to rebuild this gassy planet to their liking.

And the next aliens who visit us will have trouble believing that this planet was ever populated by a variety of beings made entirely out of meat.

But they’ll never print that in Inside Science. Those guys have zero imagination.

This entry was published on May 24, 2014 at 5:20 pm. It’s filed under Sci-Fi and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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