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Humans 1, Technology 0
by James Dunnigan
June 2, 2008

Discussion Board on this DLS topic

After a year-long test (which ended last Fall) South Korea has halted plans to replace human guards along portions of the 253 kilometer DMZ (DeMilitarized Zone), with electronic sensors and armed robots. The sensors were neither sensitive enough, nor reliable enough, unable to detect refugees, or North Korea troops, trying to cross the five kilometers wide DMZ that separates the two countries.

However, thanks to the Internet, and some chance meetings, people involved in the project discovered that other countries (probably including Israel) had developed sensors and robots that were adequate to the task. These foreign solutions are being checked out. Initially, the South Korean military, and the South Korea contractors (Samsung, and several sub-contractors) made a big deal about how South Korean technology was going to do it all.

The government is pretty insistent on getting more automation up on the DMZ, because the voters want a smaller armed forces. With the North Korean military falling apart (because of a collapsing economy and over a decade of famine), it's difficult to justify the 680,000 South Korean troops currently on duty. This force is to be cut over 25 percent in the next twelve years. Since guarding the DMZ is very manpower intensive (and boring as hell, the troops hate it), automating that security chore is still a high priority project.

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