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August 28, 2002
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MIT's R&D for the US Army of the future appears to be based on a comic book.
posted by dchase (31 comments total)

 
Here's a Boston Globe article with more details. Looks like MIT really just lifted that whole image straight from a panel in the comic book.
posted by dchase at 9:11 AM on August 28, 2002


In a March 27th interview with CNET.com, MIT Professor Ned Thomas, head of the ISN, claimed his daughter created “an interpretive drawing” of the futuristic solider “in a couple of days” for use in the application.

We're talking about a $50 million grant application here? You gotta be kidding me.

If only they had done this with one of Ford's concept cars.
posted by gottabefunky at 9:24 AM on August 28, 2002


Bwahaha. Phase 2 of MIT's DARPA work: 20-meter weapons platforms with legs and a pilot riding inside the chassis capable of eliminating any threat within a radius of a couple miles(not stolen from Mechwarrior).
posted by Ryvar at 9:25 AM on August 28, 2002


The illustration was credited by MIT to ''H. Thomas.'' Shortly after the grant was announced, Ned Thomas, an MIT professor and the director of the new institute, told the Web site CNET.com that his daughter drew the soldier based on his description; last week, Thomas declined a reporter's request to comment on the drawing.

So basically, the prof couldn't be bothered to get a professional to create an artist's rendering, and instead had his daughter whip one up. She, being a lazy git, traced a picture from a comic book. Oops.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 9:27 AM on August 28, 2002


Dear US Army,
My unique and original super-strength serum will revolutionize combat for the next century. It works, all I need is $50 million in small unmarked bills. Want proof? Here are some pictures of Project: Green Man Smash Puny Banner in action.

Regards,
David "You Wouldn't Like It When I'm Angry" Banner
posted by owillis at 9:29 AM on August 28, 2002


based on a comic book? don't you mean stolen from a comic book?
posted by banished at 9:29 AM on August 28, 2002


I don't know what's funnier: the fact that MIT apparently thought they could get away with it or that the "soldiers of tomorrow" will all have boobs.
posted by fredosan at 9:31 AM on August 28, 2002


"People who buy Radix buy a fantasy," said Lai. "Now MIT says all future U.S. soldiers will look like Radix. They're saying Radix is not fantasy, it's reality. By doing that, MIT stole our ability to market Radix as escapist entertainment."

I'm afraid that reality DOES catch up to fantasy. I mean come on... didn't they see "Back To The Future"?

By going public with its story, Horizon Comics hopes to make sure that MIT never steals its images again.

Haha... yea, I'm sure that's the REAL reason.
posted by Witty at 9:31 AM on August 28, 2002


Science has frequently, over the last century gotten it's inspiration from Science Fiction. Take a look at the Star Trek Communicators from the Original Series and then take a good look at your cell phone. So 'stealing' ideas for inventions is not the issue here. What is at issue is stealing copyrighted atrwork and passing it off as your own.
posted by TCMITS at 9:32 AM on August 28, 2002


"soldiers of tomorrow" will all have boobs

"Oh look, I've violated international law yet again! Guess someone has got to send those 'soldiers of tomorrow' to come teach me a lesson..."
posted by owillis at 9:34 AM on August 28, 2002


At least the MIT could have made THEIR Soldier of Tomorrow a male. Not there there's anything wrong with female soldiers {eh hem}, but please. This onslaught of female badass 'superheros' is getting old and tiresome. Of course, Vin Diesel (or whatever his name is) ain't helpin' matters much either.
posted by Witty at 9:45 AM on August 28, 2002


Personally, if the Govt. to make actual working battle suits from some comic that I made, I would think that was really cool. And I don't it's really going to hurt marketing of the comic ("my shit's so cool, the govt wants to make it for REAL!"). But as far as MIT using his images for their presentation without permission, I'd say he has a case.
posted by stifford at 9:56 AM on August 28, 2002


Holy shit, I went to church with this guy, Raymond Lai. We used to call his brother (whose name is Ben) Ben Gay... 'cause hey, it's pretty funny when you're 12 :). These are the guys responsible (inspiration, not "putting a good word") for getting my brother into the illustration business. My brother's now workin' for Insomniac Games (the site's an abomination in terms of usability), creators of the Spyro the Dragon videogames.
posted by freakystyley at 10:02 AM on August 28, 2002


Sue. Their. Fucking. Pants. Off.
posted by zekinskia at 10:11 AM on August 28, 2002


oh whatever... MIT probably should pay a licensing fee, but the assertion that they got the grant because of some picture is absurd, and i would've never heard of this comic if they hadn't borrowed the image.
posted by techgnollogic at 10:14 AM on August 28, 2002


So this means the soldier body armor is based on better science than missile defense?
posted by nofundy at 10:19 AM on August 28, 2002


Of course, Horizon Comics didn't exactly create the concept of a power-suited female warrior...
posted by Slithy_Tove at 10:33 AM on August 28, 2002


This is so silly. The soldier of the future won't be some tall, super muscled, chesty woman in skin tight lycra with enormous breasts.

The soldier of the future will be boyishly slim, yet suprisingly feminine, like Buffy. She will patrol in a halter top and vinyl slacks, and she will disarm our enemies with her wit, charm their hearts with her wounded yet bright spirit, and when all else fails she will stake them through the heart. As she will no doubt point out during an alternate-universe experience, you'd be suprised how many things that can kill. Her smile will be the weapon of mass destruction of the future.

I need to take a shower now.
posted by fluffy1984 at 10:47 AM on August 28, 2002


The soldier of the future will be boyishly slim, yet suprisingly feminine, like Buffy. She will patrol in a halter top and vinyl slacks, and she will disarm our enemies with her wit, charm their hearts with her wounded yet bright spirit, and when all else fails she will stake them through the heart.

Or she'll be an unflappable heavily armed dominatrix in, uh, some kind of revealing harness.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 10:56 AM on August 28, 2002


Or she'll be an unflappable heavily armed dominatrix in, uh, some kind of revealing harness.

I am concerned that the soldier of the future's most dangerous enemy will likely be chafing.
posted by fluffy1984 at 11:00 AM on August 28, 2002


The soldier of the future won't be some tall, super muscled, chesty woman in skin tight lycra with enormous breasts.

... despite what it would do for the recruitment numbers.
posted by sacre_bleu at 11:04 AM on August 28, 2002


I am concerned that the soldier of the future's most dangerous enemy will likely be chafing.

Chafing, huh?
*buys stock in Johnson&Johnson, imagines fantastic wartime performance on sales of talcum powder, rubs hands maniacally*
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 11:05 AM on August 28, 2002


Yeah, right, they got the whole $50 mil because of the illo. I'm sure there were no detailed proposals or extensive personnel resumes involved.

Given that they were not actually selling the image, but essentially using it as clip art (boo. hiss. Not that I haven't done it), damages are pretty much negligible; it's a civil action, but there's nothing to recover. A cease-and-desist is really the only recourse here.

Likely when it was added to the report, the Prof -- who may have been telling the truth, in that his Photoshop-experimenting daughter produced it -- likely had no idea it would later be grabbed by some equally thoughtless PR person for the press release, and then plastered all over the internet. I wish they'd just say that, though.
posted by dhartung at 11:49 AM on August 28, 2002


The hell with all this, where's my teleporter?!

If they can base the "soldier of the future" on comic books why can't we get something cool and useful, like a teleporter?
posted by nyxxxx at 12:10 PM on August 28, 2002


If they can base the "soldier of the future" on comic books why can't we get something cool and useful, like a teleporter?

You know, I'm going for being protected by superheros (or dominatrices or vampire slayers - whatever tickles your fancy) as being both cool and useful.
posted by fluffy1984 at 12:24 PM on August 28, 2002


nyxxxx: And where's my flying car? And the push button kitchen that cleans itself?
posted by TCMITS at 12:32 PM on August 28, 2002


This is completely ridiculous. Using a copywrited image, ok, a judge should order MIT to cease and desist. But claiming it was the inspiration for the MIT project? That's like saying NASA and the US aerospace sector, as well as the DoD and Electric Boat owe money to the heirs of Jules Verne.
posted by pjgulliver at 1:29 PM on August 28, 2002


Radix features characters who “scan” for life forms, wear invincible body armor, can become invisible, and display physical skills enhanced by machinery.

heh, Horizon comics has created a unique product that should be protected at all costs.
posted by elphTeq at 6:14 PM on August 28, 2002


I am reminded of the Bloom County cartoon where Opus and the gang get $50 million for a "Star Wars" defense system that consists of a shield of 50 million one dollar bills hovering over the country.

Think anybody would have noticed sooner if Opus was the cover art on their spiffy presentation?
posted by briank at 6:27 PM on August 28, 2002


They've admitted it.
posted by Vidiot at 8:37 AM on August 29, 2002


Beyond images, the traits of Radix' characters share strikingly similarities with MIT's proposal. Radix features characters who "scan" for life forms, wear invincible body armor, can become invisible, and display physical skills enhanced by machinery. MIT described its future solders as "seemingly invincible warriors protected by armor and endowed with superhuman capabilities such as the ability to leap over 20-foot walls." MIT also claimed its soldier could become invisible.

Problem here is that Radix isn't the first character to use these either. Invisibility sounds a lot like the Predator's cloaking device, as does the ability to scan for life forms. And the whole concept of power armor should probably be attributed to it's source.

i'm not saying that the creators of Radix don't have a right to be pissed that their image was used without permission, MIT was wrong to do that, but they certainly shouldn't be suggesting that these concepts are original to them.
posted by quin at 1:37 PM on August 29, 2002


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