DXpedition to use FT8 robot?
DXpedition to use FT8 robot?
By Dan Romanchik, KB6NU
It’s inevitable. At some point, machines are going to render humans irrelevant. It’s been a recurring theme in science fiction since before I was born (1955), and there are numerous predictions of the Singularity, the point in time when machines will be smarter than human, occurring between 2030 and 2045.
It may happen in amateur radio sooner than we think. A couple of days ago, one of my readers, sent me a link to a blog post by John, AE5X: Automated FT8 “FoxBot” in upcoming DXpedition – confirmed. He wrote:
“A DXpedition to Tokelau will take place from 1 to 11 October and it will be your chance to work an FT8 robot operating in Fox/Hound mode.
“Stathis SV5DKL has been working on a “FoxBot” for some time now, is listed as a partner to this DXpedition and has confirmed that the DXpedition will be using his FoxBot.”
John has since updated this post, noting “The SV5DKL logo has now been removed and the DX team will be in ‘full compliance’ with the mode.” Full compliance meaning following the rules set up by the ARRL DXCC rules.
The ARRL is, of course, against the use of robots. A recent ARRL Letter noted:
“ARRL has incorporated changes to the rules for all ARRL-sponsored contests and DXCC, prohibiting automated contacts and requiring that an actual operator is initiating and carrying out a contact. These changes also apply to Worked All States (including Triple Play and 5-Band WAS), Fred Fish W5FF Memorial, and VUCC awards. The changes are effective immediately and affect the rules for both HF contests, and VHF/UHF contests as well as DXCC.
“A resolution at the July ARRL Board of Directors meeting pointed to ‘growing concern over fully automated contacts being made and claimed’ for contest and for DXCC credit. The rules now require that each claimed contact include contemporaneous direct initiation by the operator on both sides of the contact. Initiation of a contact may either be local or remote.”
As AE5X says, however, the use of FT8 robots in the future is a certainty. Sooner or later, some DXpedition is going to use an FT8 robot without saying anything about it. How is the ARRL going to know that a DXpedition is using robots if the DXpedition operators don’t tell them?
I’m wondering when some DXpedition is going to give up on SSB and CW altogether. Why bother with those modes when you can make hundreds or thousands more contacts by just operating FT8?
Another thought just occurred to me. If the ARRL gets its way and Techs are awarded HF digital privileges, how long will it take for some enterprising Tech to make the DXCC Honor Roll using FT8 exclusively. Oh, the horror of it all!
Dan Romanchik, KB6NU, is the author of the KB6NU amateur radio blog (KB6NU.Com), the “No Nonsense” amateur radio license study guides (KB6NU.Com/study-guides/), and often appears on the ICQPodcast (icqpodcast.com). When he’s not wondering when robots are going to take over the world, he likes to (manually) operate CW on the HF bands.