Chapter 2595: Sheep to Herder
As a principled mech designer and teacher, Ves held an important responsibility.
As an authority figure in the field of mech design, he had to guide his students correctly so that they could contribute to the mech industry once they matured.
A teacher not only had the obligation to transform students into useful and productive mech designers, but also make sure they followed correct paths.
There were many different directions that mech designers could take.
Creation was boundless and infinite.
As long as people possessed enough imagination, they could produce any product imaginable.
Yet just because you can, doesn\'t mean you should.
Right now, Ves felt conflicted.
The conundrum that Maikel presented to him was not that easy to solve.
One one hand, Ves wanted to encourage Maikel to pursue his passions.
As long as he developed a strong interest on what a mech should be, it would be great if Maikel committed to it and developed a nascent design philosophy around his initial ideas.
In fact, this was how many mech designers got started.
Everyone needed to make a choice.
Not specializing in something meant they wouldn\'t even be able to develop their own style.
Indecisiveness was one of the worst traits a mech designer or any creator could have.
Not being able to commit to a choice meant that they would always scatter their focus, thereby failing to develop any pronounced strengths.
What Ves just heard from Maikel was a potential way for his student to make move forward.
As long as his protege got off the starting line, Maikel would be able to achieve rapid progress as long as he worked hard enough.
This was a good opportunity to give him that initial push.
The topic that Maikel was passionate about did not entirely fell in line with the prevailing sentiment and customs of the mech industry.
While designing and producing completely autonomous mechs or battle bots was not an unknown phenomena, they never caught on.
Part of it was due to how easy it was to hack or tamper with their programming.
Since the Hexer intelligence agencies dared to tamper with the Spirit of Bentheim, they could easily tamper with the production of battle bots as well!
One of the more devious policies of the MTA was that they offered comprehensive consumer protection for any transactions involving traditional mechs.
The Association actively regulated the mech industry and the mech market in order to ensure that mechs remained the dominant weapon of war throughout human space.
Yet the MTA never extended their care and protection towards autonomous mechs or bots.
What distinguished a mech from a bot
The MTA never defined an exact dividing line.
They applied their rulings according to their own judgement.
In truth, every mech possessed a certain degree of autonomy.
Human minds simply couldn\'t pay attention to the millions if not billions of processes taking place within a tall and enormous war machine.
From monitoring the temperature of individual parts to adjusting the power flow throughout the frame, the mech pilot did not need to devote any thought to these trivial actions.
What the Mech Trade Association was actually touchy about was when mechs gained the capability to fight by themselves.
When AIs took over and began to make decisions that humans normally made, mech ceased to be tools that were actively harnessed by their human owners.
That was a dangerous development.
Many incidents throughout human history highlighted the great peril of entrusting combat power to unthinking and unfeeling machines.
One of the risks of doing so was that these autonomous machines weren\'t capable of exercising human judgement.
If their programming somehow subverted every safeguard and commanded them to attack friendly mechs, an AI would mindlessly execute this command no matter how wrong it sounded to humans!
Of course, human mech pilots were fallible as well.
They could betray their oaths, turn their weapons against their comrades and slaughter thousands of innocent civilians in an instant.
Yet with proper training and management, these risks could be controlled to the greatest extent.
Even if a deviant appeared, it would always be an isolated case.
It was much easier to subvert billions of identical battle bots than to subvert the same amount of mech pilots!
Ves glanced at Maikel as he continued to consider his response.
Though Maikel should have been aware of the minefield he was stepping into, now that he had opened his heart, he became more determined.
This was more than a passing interest to him.
As much as he admired the living mechs designed by Ves, Maikel didn\'t entirely feel as if they were right!
In his opinion, a true living mech ought to be able to make decisions on its own! Anything less than that was akin to a crippled or incomplete creation.
Naturally, Ves did not agree with this stance.
He believed his ideal of living mechs was already complete enough.
Of course, it was not as if Ves had dabbled a bit in this area himself.
He had experimented with granting more autonomy to his products by developing the Devil Tiger.
Though Ves felt immensely proud of his first masterwork mech, he did not design it with his usual style in mind.
He just wanted to perform some experiments at the time.
As a result, the Devil Tiger possessed several risky characteristics that he never intended to incorporate in his normal mech designs.
The time where he converted the four mechs of the Scarlet Rose into battle bots was also an exception.
Back when he hijacked the mobile supply carrier, Ves had no one but Lucky to count on.
Without any mech pilots, how was he supposed to make use of the Fridaymen mechs that Lady Curver had left behind
Ves made an exception and configured the four mechs in a way that allowed them to fight on their own.
As soon as he returned to the rest of the Larkinson Clan, he quickly converted the battle bots back into traditional mechs.
This incident showed that making mechs autonomous was not a universally bad outcome.
Battle bots had their uses.
Of course, Maikel didn\'t profess to go that far.
He simply thought that mechs should have more say in how it was being piloted.
Yet that was already problematic enough.
As Ves struggled whether he should rein Maikel in, he thought about his own progression.
Just like Maikel, Ves went against the prevailing standards.
He boldly carved out his own path and succeeded in fostering a productive design philosophy.
There were plenty of instances where he broke the rules and disrespected taboos.
Why should Ves hold Maikel to a standard that he never seriously abided by As his protege, Maikel should be taking after his mentor!
Ves had made his decision.
If this is what you want to pursue, then you should do so.
As long as you are able and willing to commit to this idea, then it can serve as your career direction.
However, you must invest your entire heart and soul in this pursuit! You cannot change your mind once you have advanced beyond a certain stage.
Every decision has its consequences.
At this moment, you are at a crucial junction.
The decision you make here will define the rest of your life.
Are you prepared
Maikel did not quake from his teacher\'s warning.
His passion burned hotter as he thought about what he might accomplish as long as he followed his idea through!
His imagination generated a lot of compelling illusions.
He envisioned a powerful first-class multipurpose mech that was packed with weapon systems and modules.
While its mech pilot directed the machine to fight against opponents up close, the ranged weapon modules fired at distant targets on their own! The mech pilot consciously gave up control over these dangerous weapons and entrusted their control to the living mech!
This was what Maikel wanted to achieve! His idea of symbiosis was different from that of Ves! To him, the man-machine connection was not a channel to achieve synergy, but an opportunity to divide responsibilities!
As Ves keenly observed the younger Larkinsons, he began to lose hope.
A part of him still hoped that Maikel would recognize the dangers of pursuing his idea and put it aside in order to adopt a safer alternative.
It seemed that none of his students were destined to be average.
I have made my choice. Maikel spoke.
There was much more steel in his voice than before.
I want to specialize in designing semi-autonomous living mechs.
To me, a mech is simply not good enough if it can\'t assume some of the burdens of its mech pilot.
As mechs continually grow more powerful and more complex, it becomes increasingly harder for humans to harness all of their strength.
I believe the mechs that I am aiming for will be the future of the mech industry!
What a bold claim! Ves was very impressed by Maikel\'s confidence.
Every successful mech designer that Ves had ever met possessed an abundance of confidence in their own ideas.
A good mech designer was always a thought leader rather than a thought follower.
Sheep could only follow their herders, while herders were always capable of forging their own path.
What Ves saw right now in Maikel was the transformation of a follower into a leader.
Once a sheep transcended into a herder, their potential was unlocked and their future was unlimited!
Yet Ves did not entirely feel happy about this development.
It would have been great if Maikel chose a less controversial pursuit, but this was not the case!
By choosing a path that was crooked from the start, Maikel would have a very hard time with progressing his design philosophy.
While his premise shared a lot of commonalities to his teacher design philosophy, Maikel could only rely on himself when it came to the areas in which he diverged from Ves and everyone else.
These differences introduced enough deviances that Maikel might follow an entirely different direction from Ves at some point in the future.
Ves was both excited and afraid at the prospect!
He stretched out his hand and patted Maikel\'s head.
Hey! I\'m not a kid anymore!
Hehe, don\'t be so serious, Maikel.
While I am glad you\'re more decisive than before, your choice isn\'t set right now.
You\'re not even a Novice yet.
So long as you are still a student, you have plenty of time to explore your options.
Right now, you have selected a research direction which you wish to explore, but that does not mean you have formed the beginnings of your design philosophy.
This means you can always change your mind and choose a different specialization.
Oh. Maikel deflated a bit.
I thought I would be able to move further.
This is not a process that you can finish in an instant.
It usually takes years for mech designers to flesh out their interests and form a definitive specialization.
Since you seek to design semi-autonomous mechs, I suggest you enrich your knowledge on battle bots developed by others.
You should also deepen your studies on mech programming and artificial intelligences.
Even if you intend to give control of a mech to its living aspect, it is still vital for you to understand how regular artificial intelligences work.
They\'re not truly alive, but they can come very close.
Knowing how AIs are able to pilot mechs will definitely help you in developing a method that can make living mechs do the same.
With those instructions, Ves dismissed his excited student.
Maikel was so eager to set foot on his chosen path that he raced off to his own terminal in the design lab.
He was already calling up an introduction on AIs in mechs from the internal library!
Ves let out a deep sigh while pressing his palm against his face.
He really hoped that Maikel would not go overboard with pursuing his newfound passion.
There was only a small difference between a semi-autonomous mech and a fully-autonomous mech!
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