Friday, August 08, 2003

This article tells the story of rats in NY City. City officials have tried everything, but the rats have gotten so bad at one fire station that the only answer is to close the station, gut it and rebuild it.

With all the progress and technology and high-tech wizardry available in NY, rats hang on. There's the old expression "if you can build a better mousetrap..." Apparently we have not built one that is good enough yet.

Will we ever triumph over rats? This article on Centibots may hold the answer. Centibots are small robots that work in teams of 100. In the article they quickly map the interior of a building (images of the spiders in Minority Report come to mind).

Perhaps you could make the Centibots small and nimble enough to create a rat-exterminating army. The Centibots would engage in one-on-one street fighting with the rats. In other words, the centibots would find and kill the rats individually and then drag them out of the building. Sort of like an army of miniature robotic cats.

The obvious question that raises is, "How do you then exterminate the Centibots?" Once we have small, nimble robots with the ability slither through walls and crevices like rats do, it means that people can plant video cameras or listening devices anywhere they want to. They simply equip a few Centibot rats with cameras and microphones, release them near your home and let the robots crawl right in to record you.

Then you think some more. Could terrorists equip Centibot rats with poison aerosol sprays? A terrorist group releases its aerosol-enabled Centibot rats in a foreign harbor. The Centibots climb aboard ships just like real rats do. When the ships arrive, the Centibots disembark and make their way to the target.

The obvious response to that is to equip ships with Centibot cats that can find and eliminate the Centibot rats that climb on board. This is sounding, in fact, like a game of cat and mouse.

Maybe the real rats aren't so bad after all...

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