Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dolphins drafted into the US Navy

"(Dec. 9) -- A critical part of the U.S. nuclear arsenal is about to get an elite guard force. Specially trained dolphins will be deployed in January to the Naval Base Kitsap in Washington state, where the mammals will help protect Trident submarines."  Source

     Commentary: This blog is in part about unintended consequences.  It's amusing to think how this program could go awry.  Dolphins are believed by some scientists to be the second most intelligent species on this planet.  Their brains are larger than humans'--but of course, their bodies are a lot more massive.  So if you take the ratio of their brain size to body size, they come out second to humans.

     What happens when we train them in technology and war?  Could they use this against us?  I'm reminded of a paperback science fiction novel I read when I was a kid: "War with the newts."  It had exactly this theme--a species of intelligent newt was discovered.  They were trained to do all kinds of undersea tasks.  Eventually they rebelled, and took over the planet, undermining the continents, and planning to convert the entire planet to ocean.

     OK, maybe that's a bit far-fetched.  But it's much more likely, perhaps even probable if they train enough dolphins, that one will go AWOL.  What might it do?

     If you fire a cruise missle, it can malfunction.  But it's capacity for mischief is limited to its flight time and range.  Now imagine a dolphin on the loose with a mine.  It cold live for years in the sea, before it finally attaches that mine to a ship. 

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