Thursday, December 29, 2016

Robotic Rifles in the Nineteenth Century

At one point, Haag makes the bizarre claim that Winchester rifles developed a will of their own; or perhaps this Yale Ph.D. does not know what “volition” is.  “Speed (not power) and accuracy from a distance were the mechanical soul of all Winchesters.  With each design advance, the volition of the rifle became more volitional.”  “Volition” refers to “making a choice”[1]; was Winchester making the earliest intelligent robotic gun?  No.  Haag clearly believes that the finger doesn’t pull the trigger; the trigger pulls the finger.
“Small, mortal operations of armed conflict occurred through the technological ingenuity of the mechanical hand, and the confrontation became less intimate or physically immediate.  The gun ‘did’ more of the motions and actions of the killing.”[2]  “Instead, people and animals were shot faster, at greater distances, with a more mechanically volitional weapon.”[3]
Again, human agency has been replaced by gun agency.  While this may make Haag feel better, blaming the gun and thus the gun maker, not the shooter; it is pretty clearly delusional thinking.

[1] “Volition” definition;, last accessed December 29. 2016.
[2] Haag, The Gunning of Americaat 181.
[3] Id., at 203.

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