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Robotics The Military

Robotics Prof Fears Rise of Military Robots 258

Posted by timothy
from the oh-you-worry-too-much dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Interesting video interview on silicon.com with Sheffield University's Noel Sharkey, professor of AI & robotics. The white-haired prof talks state-of-the-robot-nation — discussing the most impressive robots currently clanking about on two-legs (hello Asimo) and who's doing the most interesting things in UK robotics research (something involving crickets apparently). He also voices concerns about military use of robots — suggesting it won't be long before armies are sending out fully autonomous killing machines."
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Robotics Prof Fears Rise of Military Robots

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  • skynet (Score:5, Funny)

    by el_tedward (1612093) on Thursday January 14, 2010 @11:37PM (#30774966)

    okay, where's the tag?

    • http://www.amazon.com/How-Survive-Robot-Uprising-Defending/dp/1582345929 [amazon.com]

      Disclaimer: I'm only a fan of the book. Quite funny. I'm not affiliated with the author in any way shape or form.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by foobsr (693224)
        Deadly Image [google.com] (The Uncertain Midnight) (1958)
        A novel by Edmund Cooper

        Quote: "He was an anachronism... He was a twentieth century man who, by a freak of chance, survived to see an age in which working had become a social disgrace; an age in which culture and the arts reigned supreme; an age of mannered ladies and gentlemen, perfectly waited on and cared for by androids - the man-like creations of their own genius. The higher grade androids were doctors, engineers, politicians and personal "companions" to
    • I am too busy doing R&D of my time machine.

  • "Friendly AI" (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Baldrson (78598) * on Thursday January 14, 2010 @11:38PM (#30774970) Homepage Journal
    This is one of the things that makes me think the concern about "friendly AI" is blown out of proportion. The problem isn't making sure teh AI's are "friendly" -- its making sure the NI (natural intelligence) owners of the AI's are "friendly".

    If half the effort spent on "friendly AI" were spent on examining the ownership of AI's, there might be some hope.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      Indiscriminately fire at anything that moves. Isn't that Blackwater's* job?

      * er, Xe Services LLC. [wikipedia.org]
    • How 'bout "biological intelligence" instead?

      And if the US military is involved, is there any hope?

    • Re:"Friendly AI" (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jollyreaper (513215) on Friday January 15, 2010 @12:56AM (#30775422)

      This is one of the things that makes me think the concern about "friendly AI" is blown out of proportion. The problem isn't making sure teh AI's are "friendly" -- its making sure the NI (natural intelligence) owners of the AI's are "friendly".
      If half the effort spent on "friendly AI" were spent on examining the ownership of AI's, there might be some hope.

      That's just it -- human nature never changes. The general can order genocide but it's up to the soldiers to carry it out. The My Lai Massacre was stopped by a helicopter pilot who put his bird between the civilians and "told his crew that if the U.S. soldiers shot at the Vietnamese while he was trying to get them out of the bunker that they were to open fire at these soldiers."

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Lai_Massacre [wikipedia.org]

      Robots aren't really the issue -- distancing humans from killing is the problem. Not many of us could kill another human being with our bare hands. A knife might make the task easier in the doing but does nothing to ease the psychological horror of it. Guns let you do it at a distance. You don't even have to touch the guy. And buttons make it easier still. It's like you're not even responsible. You could convince young men to fly bombers over enemy cities and rain down incendiaries but I don't think you could convince many of them to kill even one of those civilians with a gun, let alone a knife.

      This is the strange distinction we make where we find one form of killing a horrible thing, a war crime, terrorism, and another form of killing is a regrettable accident but there's really no blame to be assigned. A suicide bomber walks into a pizzeria and blows himself up, we lose our minds. An Air Force bomber drops an LGB in a bunker filled with civilians instead of top brass, shit happens. We honestly believe there's a distinction between the two. "Americans didn't set out to kill civilians" war hawks will huff. Yes, but they're still dead, aren't they?

      Combat robots are simply continuing this process. Right now there is still a man in the loop to order the attack. Hamas kills Israeli targets with suicide bombs, Israelis deliver high explosives via missile into apartment blocks filled with civilians. They're using American-manufactured anti-tank missiles. I think they're still using TOW. Predator drones use hellfires and their operators are sitting in the continental US while Israeli pilots are a few miles away from the target inside their choppers but really, what's the difference? And what happens when drones are given the authority to engage targets on their own? A soldier with a gun can at least see what he's shooting at. Those in the artillery corps are firing their shells off into the unseen distance and have no idea who they're killing. Not that much different from laying land mines, indiscriminate killing. Psychologically no different from what it would be to set a robot on patrol mode, fire-at-will.

      If one extrapolates a little further, the problem of the droid army is similar to that of the tradition of unpopular leaders using corps of foreign mercenaries to protect them from the wrath of the people. The mercenaries did not speak the language, did not know the customs, and were counted as immune to palace intrigues. They could be used against the people for they would not the sympathy for fellow countrymen that a native force might feel. What are droids being used for? Only the people operating them could say for sure. Welcome to the age of the push-button assassination.

      • Re:"Friendly AI" (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Friday January 15, 2010 @01:37AM (#30775632) Homepage Journal

        Of course, for thousands of years of recorded history, people did kill each other en masse at arm's length. Alexander's soldiers may have been more honest about what they were doing than somebody today sitting in a bunker pressing a button and killing people on the other side of the globe, but they were no less bloodthirsty. So I don't think you can blame the modern willingness to kill on the impartiality created by modern military technology, because the modern willingness to kill looks remarkably like the ancient willingness to kill, just with different tools.

        OTOH, I agree with you completely about the absurdity of calling some methods of killing heroic and others evil. Dead is dead.

        • Re:"Friendly AI" (Score:4, Insightful)

          by AJWM (19027) on Friday January 15, 2010 @01:46AM (#30775666) Homepage

          Heck, for thousands of years people have been killing each other with autonomous -- although not intelligent -- devices. The projectile from a trebuchet or ballista can't be recalled or turned off once it's on its way. And the destructive force of long range munitions has only gotten greater since.

          To the extent that battlefield robots can do a better job of telling the combatants from the non-combatants than can lobbed rocks or bombs, then all the better.

          Just so long as somebody has an "off" switch.

        • Exactly-- during those times that killing is necessary, then those who enjoy and are skillful at it, will excel.

          I had a rat problem once.
          First I took them away.
          Didn't help.
          Finally, I took a stick and went to killing them.
          At first it was a bit tramatic.
          Very quickly it became enjoyable and cat/mouse hunterly like.

          It was ineffective tho, so I went to poison. That stopped the problem.

          Animals enjoy playing with and killing other animals. Humans are animals.

          In the face of massive propaganda that life is sacred

        • Re:"Friendly AI" (Score:4, Insightful)

          by jollyreaper (513215) on Friday January 15, 2010 @09:20AM (#30777902)

          Of course, for thousands of years of recorded history, people did kill each other en masse at arm's length. Alexander's soldiers may have been more honest about what they were doing than somebody today sitting in a bunker pressing a button and killing people on the other side of the globe, but they were no less bloodthirsty. So I don't think you can blame the modern willingness to kill on the impartiality created by modern military technology, because the modern willingness to kill looks remarkably like the ancient willingness to kill, just with different tools.

          Part of it is cultural conditioning. People who grow up in times of war like that are more willing to do the whole rape and pillage thing. But just look at the problem modern armies have had conditioning soldiers to shoot to kill. The statistics come from WWI, II, Korea, and Vietnam. Something like one in ten soldiers were shooting for effect when their lives weren't immediately in danger. Not sure exactly how this was determined but the whole kill drill done in boot camp is about breaking that resistance until shooting becomes automatic. The studies said it became 100% by Vietnam.

          There's a desensitization that comes with all of this, of course. Take a normal, sane, caring 18-yr old and put him in a fucked situation like Iraq. The first month in, he's not wanting to hurt civilians. After he loses his best friend to a car bomb driven by what looked like "civilians" he's willing to kill all the motherfucking motherfuckers and doesn't care about arguments of guilt or innocence. They're local, they're all guilty. Of course, there's also the guys who shoot up a car they think is running the blockade only to find out it was just a confused father with his family and here's the kids dripping life into the street. That's gonna stick with those guys for the rest of their lives. Might even cause them to eat a bullet.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Idiomatick (976696)
          We kill less now than we did back then... even with the ease of doing so we have today, thats a good thing.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by S77IM (1371931)

        Shouldn't this story have an "ED-209" tag?

        I agree with you that distancing humans from killing is big a problem. We have that problem now with cruise missiles, cluster bombs, nuke-from-orbit, etc.

        But accidental death from robots run amok is not a pleasant thought either. The whole point of an AUTOMATED system is that it runs without a human driving it. This leads to a potential -- however slim -- that the system starts killing people without permission.

        It sucks that we kill each other deliberately. Let'

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by stdarg (456557)

        We honestly believe there's a distinction between the two. "Americans didn't set out to kill civilians" war hawks will huff. Yes, but they're still dead, aren't they?

        Are you serious? So to take a personal example, say somebody murdered your mother. How would you want that person punished? Many people would call for the death penalty. Now what if someone killed your mother completely by accident... say your mom ran a red light and got hit by someone. She's still dead, isn't she?

        • Re:"Friendly AI" (Score:4, Insightful)

          by mbone (558574) on Friday January 15, 2010 @02:29AM (#30775856)

          Well, suppose your Mom was at a restaurant having dinner, and it got blown up, killing her and most of the rest of the clientele, and you learned that the restaurant was bombed without warning because a "high value target" was supposed to have been there, but wasn't. (This has happened, and it was no accident.) I assume, based on the above, you would feel that "them's the breaks," but I can assure you that many people would conclude that the people dropping the bombs don't really care much as to whether civilians were killed or not, and you don't have to dig very deep to learn that in reality many of the people at the receiving end of such incidents do indeed feel that the people behind the bombs deserve punishment.

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by ranton (36917)

            Well, suppose your Mom was at a restaurant having dinner, and it got blown up, killing her and most of the rest of the clientele, and you learned that the restaurant was bombed without warning because a "high value target" was supposed to have been there, but wasn't. (This has happened, and it was no accident.) I assume, based on the above, you would feel that "them's the breaks," but I can assure you that many people would conclude that the people dropping the bombs don't really care much as to whether civilians were killed or not, and you don't have to dig very deep to learn that in reality many of the people at the receiving end of such incidents do indeed feel that the people behind the bombs deserve punishment.

            Just because you are upset and may want retribution, you are still going to see the distinction between this and someone intentionally killing your mother.

            No one said that accidental deaths are meaningless. But jollyreaper was claiming that there is no distinction between the intentional murder and accidental deaths (or even collateral damage). I think stdarg's example was spot on.

      • Re:"Friendly AI" (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Shihar (153932) on Friday January 15, 2010 @01:58AM (#30775722)

        As dark as the potential for drones can be, I think it actually has the chance to make war a far less indiscriminate and bloody thing.

        Right now, if a square of Marines gets fired on, they can return fire. A square of marines has the firepower to flatten a village. Give them access to artillery or air support, and they can literally level a city. In other words, whenever you have a squad of supported marines fight, you are having a group of kids (and they are just kids) holding their finger over enough firepower to take out a small army. Their job is to use as little as that firepower as humanly possible. You might be able to level every building in a half mile radius, but you are not supposed to. When it comes to a firefight though, especially a desperate firefight where soldiers have their lives on the line, they, like most humans, choose life over death, and if that means flattening an entire apartment building to get at one sniper, they do it and hope that no one else was inside. Generally speaking, unless a soldier walks up to a civilian and splatters their brains on the floor, they are let off free. It is war, your life is on the line, you take your risks and respond in the best way possible. If a civilian gets accidentally whacked, that is sad but acceptable. Most soldiers develop a pretty thick "us vs them" mentality that see civilians if not the enemy, as hostile terrain, especially in a guerrilla war.

        Drones offer up another possibility. It is true, you can order a drone army to go out and kill civilians and it is probably easier to get a soldier to do it. That said, if you policy is civilian murdering, a nation like the US doesn't need to use drones. You can handily exterminate all life through impersonally aerial bombing. What drones offer is more control over the rules of war. Rules mean little when you are surrounded by gunfire. You do what you have to do to survive. On the other hand, when you are sitting in the US with a military lawyer over one shoulder, a commander over the other, and and every single second and action you take is getting recorded, rules are a lot more enforceable. If the rules call on you to die before you level an apartment complex just to get at one sniper, a drone can simply die. A soldier generally wont.

        With drones, you have complete accountability for your actions. You can always go to command before doing something. You never need to make snap judgments. Hell, you can call a damned military lawyer over and get his take on the rules of engagement. Further, every bloody thing you do is being recorded, so if you decide to start murdering civilians you will be caught and tried.

        On the balance, I think drones are going to lessen the lives lost. The few potential abuses are pointless to worry about. If someone wants to exterminate another people indiscriminately, you can do it the cheap old fashion way of aerial bombardment. On the other hand, if you are an army that wants to enforce ironclad rules of engagement, drones ensure there is never an excuse for fucking up, and that fuckups get caught.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by joe_frisch (1366229)

          I think a lot will depend on the extent to which the robot operator is held responsible for the semi-autonomous robot's actions. If the human is completely responsible, it might make ware less deadly. If the human can use the excuse "well the automatic targeting system mistakenly identified the 5 year old with a tricycle as an enemy robot - its a terrible shame, we need to update the recognition system" - then you have problems.

          There is a tendency for large organizations to avoid placing blame on a

        • by Baldrson (78598) *
          Actually, I'm thinking of this more in terms of a private dystopia. In other words, imagine the nation states collapse and you have some multibilionare guy controlling an army of droids. Even if he is "well intentioned" as is Bill Gates, what is to keep him from deciding that feeding millions of fat lazy over-paid American programmers to starving African children isn't the "moral" thing to do?
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by shervinemami (1270718)

          Its true that military robots & technology are trying to be used to make warfare more "clean", so that the desired targets can be bombed with the least damage to civilians. That is good, atleast in theory, BUT at the end of the day, it is still all going to be controlled by the military leaders that don't necessarily know who are the civilians and who are the targets.

          I have actually worked on a military robot for intended deployment in Iraq, and our military officer explained that when you are in a plac

      • by QuantumG (50515) *

        Another way to look at it is that if every single order has to be entered into a command terminal somewhere and the robots in the field are logging all their own "decisions" then you've got a perfect information situation for tribunals.

        "An atrocity occurred and we have the logs to prove it!"

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Eivind (15695)

        Agreed. Suffering own losses is pretty much the only thing that in practice limits the willingness of some leaders to wage war. It doesn't limit it all that much either, truth be told. But the endless rows of young american men coming home horisontally, DID play a major role in turning opinion in cases like the Vietnam War, and I think it'll do the same in Afghanistan and Iraq. The american public tire of sacrificing an endless row of their young, for issues and countries they don't really care -that- much

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ultranova (717540)

        That's just it -- human nature never changes. The general can order genocide but it's up to the soldiers to carry it out. The My Lai Massacre was stopped by a helicopter pilot who put his bird between the civilians and "told his crew that if the U.S. soldiers shot at the Vietnamese while he was trying to get them out of the bunker that they were to open fire at these soldiers."

        Yes. On the other hand, the reason that My Lai happened in the first place is that people had been under constant stress and simply

  • Terminator, to start with. Is anyone surprised?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 14, 2010 @11:47PM (#30775042)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Secret_War_of_Lisa_Simpson [wikipedia.org]

    "The wars of the future will not be fought on the battlefield or at sea. They will be fought in space, or possibly on top of a very tall mountain. In either case, most of the actual fighting will be done by small robots. And as you go forth today remember always your duty is clear: To build and maintain those robots."

  • "He also voices concerns about military use of robots — suggesting it won't be long before armies are sending out fully autonomous killing machines."

    This Gloomy Gus overlooks the obvious. These "fully autonomous killin machines" - let's call them, oh I don't know, "killbots" - will almost certainly have a preset kill limit. So right there we'll have an easy way to stop them!

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@nOspAM.gmail.com> on Thursday January 14, 2010 @11:55PM (#30775096) Journal
    Am I the only one who picked up on his visual cues that indicate this is the first time he's been out of his lab in over a year? Look at how tired and emaciated he is. Also, I think there's bar code tattoo on his inner arm that -- if you lift the image and scan it -- reads "HUMAN 00001" which is kind of disconcerting. The part at the end where he holds up the captcha that reads "HELP, PLEASE HELP ME" was a dead giveaway. While his voice and text was overly positive towards the proliferation of his "sleek metal masters" I believe his body language indicated otherwise.
    • And his blinking! It was binary for "SKYNET" over and over again...
    • Also, I think there's bar code tattoo on his inner arm that -- if you lift the image and scan it -- reads "HUMAN 00001" which is kind of disconcerting.

      I'll say it's disconcerting. It means he's the First Variety.
    • by Captain Hook (923766) on Friday January 15, 2010 @09:30AM (#30778004)

      there's bar code tattoo on his inner arm that -- if you lift the image and scan it -- reads "HUMAN 00001" which is kind of disconcerting.

      Disconcerting indeed since they apperently don't see the need for more than 99,999 humans worldwide. Presumably they want to keep a few of us alive to do the jobs which no self-respecting robot would ever want to do.

  • So how long has Sheffield University been using robotic professors?
  • Autonomous untill they run out of power or ammo.

    Its all about the AI, humans can learn and adapt to machine behavior faster than robots can adapt to human behavior.

    Humans will always be better than machines at killing humans (unfortunately), machines can only simulate our thinking...

    If robots ever get an AI superior to human intelligence, then yes we are redundant on the battlefield and everywhere else.

    • by Mr. Freeman (933986) on Friday January 15, 2010 @01:00AM (#30775438)
      "Humans will always be better than machines at killing humans (unfortunately), machines can only simulate our thinking..."

      I disagree. What robots lack up for in creativity they make up for in the ability to withstand orders of magnitude more damage than humans. I mean, blow a robot's leg clean off and its weapon systems still work. It doesn't pass out from blood loss or pain. Put a few bullets though it and chances are it's still going to be up and running. No human can do that.

      They won't be creative, but everything is going to be directed by human commanders located in a semi-remote facility, so it's a non-issue. Any new threat will be adapted to by the humans controlling the robots.

      Furthermore, humans need to be creative to avoid getting killed. That really isn't an issue with robots. One dead soldier is a very bad thing, 50 dead robots isn't good but no one is going to lose any sleep over it. If you kill half of a human squad, they're probably not going to advance any further. Wipe out half a fleet of robotic killing machines and they'll keep marching right on in.
      • by bug1 (96678)

        everything is going to be directed by human commanders

        If its directed by human commanders its not fully autonomous.

        autonomous /tnms/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [aw-ton-uh-muhs] Show IPA
        -adjective
        1. Government.
        a. self-governing; independent; subject to its own laws only.
        b. pertaining to an autonomy.
        2. having autonomy; not subject to control from outside; independent: a subsidiary that functioned as an autonomous unit.
        3. Biology.
        a. existing and functioning as an independent organism.
        b.

      • by bug1 (96678)

        If you find the weakness to kill one robot it will work on everyone of them.

        What use is a robot if you shoot one in the camera with a paintball ?

        And how can a fully autonomous killing machine discriminate between soldiers and civilians.

        A weapon is only as good as the intelligence controlling it, thats how armies are run, accept it.

        • "And how can a fully autonomous killing machine discriminate between soldiers and civilians."

          Why does this come up in every fucking robotics discussion? Yes, it's hard to tell the difference NOW. Give it 10 years and image processing an AI will have evolved to such a level that it may be possible.

          Obviously there are some technical hurdles. If there weren't then we'd have the technology NOW.
    • "Autonomous untill they run out of power or ammo."

      As long as you've got the ammo, you've got the power.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by drinkypoo (153816)

      Autonomous untill they run out of power or ammo.

      Humans run out of power and ammo, too. Humans, however, can only eat food.

      Humans will always be better than machines at killing humans (unfortunately), machines can only simulate our thinking...

      They could simulate yours fairly trivially. You don't need anything as smart as a human to kill humans. It only has to be able to move and kill, it doesn't need to be able to change a diaper or cook spaghetti.

  • Is he concerned enough to give up his job teaching others how to make robots?
  • Good Idea (Score:4, Funny)

    by outsider007 (115534) on Friday January 15, 2010 @12:29AM (#30775276)

    Automating the death panel process is a good way to save taxpayers money.
    Also since robots eat old people's medicine for food, they will basically be self-powered.

  • What could possibly go wrong? I mean, we've had a whole 150,000 years since the last time we built Cylons and they rebelled, attempting genocide against the human race. Surely it can't happen again...
  • The whole Skynet metaphor is becoming part of the problem. Real robotics is nowhere near Terminators, but it doesn't need to be. Fears of creating unstoppable battledroids are eclipsing the more real fears of simply adding another destabilizing system to the warfare environment. Many battlefield robotics implementations well within the current state of the art look like they will become another scourge like landmines. Not an unstoppable threat, not even all that influential in combat against decently traine

    • by nedlohs (1335013)

      That seems unlikely. They are more expensive than land mines and shouldn't try to kill people their own side. So they are easier to recover and worth recovering.

      They are also unlikely to be implemented as "suicide bombers" so they'll run out of ammo/power anyway.

      And given keeping your tech out of the hands of enemies is a normal military goal you aren't going to just leave high tech robots around waiting to be studied by others (though that is an argument for including a suicide bomber feature).

    • The difference is that it is a big fucking pain in the ass to collect landmines after you're through with them and there's no benefit to the enemy to retrieve them.

      No country with the ability to produce combat robots in their right mind would ever leave combat robots lying around. That would be handing enemies our technology on a silver platter to reverse engineer and turn against us. Same thing with things like attack helicopters. If one goes down then they fly some mechanics out to fix it. If they can
  • by Kozz (7764) on Friday January 15, 2010 @12:47AM (#30775376)

    What kind of expense would be required to effectively shield these armies of robots from strong EMP? Or would an EMP be impractical or ineffective? Inquiring minds want to know.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Shihar (153932)

      If you are lobbing EMP weapons at each other, you are already fucked and fighting WW3. Duck and cover. Emp blasts have very small rangers. With the amount of effort it takes to make a pulse big enough to fry a robot, you might as well just drop a normal bomb on their head and do it the old fashion way. The only time this isn't true is if you start lobbing neutron bombs and nukes. Those are probably worth the price... but if you are lobbing around nukes, you are already completely fucked and fighting th

      • by RMH101 (636144)
        An EMP suitcase in a banking district would be a pretty effective weapon...
    • Hmm, there are little devices call transzorbs and MOVs. This is why electronics don't get killed by thunderstorms anymore and it also protects against EMP bombs. These bombs do work really well in the movies though...
    • Not much. The metal shell of the robot would work quite well to do this anyway. Look up "faraday cage". You can actually make one at home. Wrap your cell phone in aluminum foil, tada, it's shielded from EMP.
  • ... about killbots and more about having to live with a race of Benders.
  • No "Skynet" tag on this story? Unthinkable!

  • Who do you think will be first against the wall when our new robotic overlords take control?

    Did I say overlords? I meant protectors.

  • by Whuffo (1043790) on Friday January 15, 2010 @01:31AM (#30775594) Homepage Journal
    There's lots of talk here about how machines are not as "good" as humans. That is certainly true on an overall basis - but for specific well defined tasks, a machine can outperform a human by an order of magnitude or more.

    Recognize a human being by IR? No problem. Aim a weapon at the head? No problem. Bang, one shot and one kill. Repeat times N where N is the size of the machine's ammo supply or the number of targets (whichever is less). The whole cycle would take a fraction of a second and if you were one of the targets you'd probably be dead before you discovered your peril. The fact that such machines are well within our capability to mass produce right now isn't what scares me - it's the sad fact that there are people in high places that think that doing this would be a good idea.

    There are unwritten rules to wars - the general concept is duke it out until one side or the other gives up or can't continue. This "agreement" would break down when the killbots started mowing down the enemy and things would get very ugly in a hurry. Do you think nukes are the "big scary?" Wait until you see what's coming if we head down this path.

  • Dystopia is coming (Score:2, Interesting)

    by TheTapani (1050518)
    Another talk on the same topic. http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/pw_singer_on_robots_of_war.html [ted.com]

    Military robots are the future of war. We will see robot armies fighting each other. Consider what kind of surveillance state you can create by millions of robotic insects, using swarm intelligence / smart dust to report on everyone.

    Maybe mankind ends up like in matrix, but with opposing robot armies trying to kill the last survivors from the superpowers, who are hiding deep down underground, kept alive by
  • Running spider mines (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DigiShaman (671371) on Friday January 15, 2010 @02:11AM (#30775776) Homepage

    Won't be long before we (any nation really) has robotic spider mines. Imagine them communicating with each other in pack and relaying GPS location data. If one finds a target, they start to zero in on the victim. Imagine being out in the field and seeing one of these bastards running along and then hopping on to your fellow soldier just prior to detonation.

    Don't know about the rest of you, but "Oh fuck" would be the last thing going through my mind after seeing something like that.

  • by jools33 (252092) on Friday January 15, 2010 @02:53AM (#30775936)

    This must be a typo - I'm sure UK robotic scientists are investigating krikkits and their imminent return to collect the ashes.

  • by CrazyJim1 (809850) * on Friday January 15, 2010 @03:03AM (#30775998) Journal
    This robot is: A humanoid robot controlled entirely by the movements and actions of a live person. I know we don't have the technology for a robot to keep its balance well enough on two legs, but we are there or at least close for controlling a skeleton in 3d. What would a robot like this be called? I'm sure I'm not the first to think about it, so I figure there has to be a name for it.
  • by Animats (122034) on Friday January 15, 2010 @04:07AM (#30776260) Homepage

    The US military wants robots. More robots. Robots that kill. Now.

    Read Failure To Field The Right Robots Costs Lives, General Says [nationalde...gazine.org]. Lt. General Rick Lynch, commander of the U.S. Army's 3rd Armored Corps, wants autonomous killbots. His corps lost 155 soldiers in Iraq, and he claims that 80% of them would have been saved if the right kind of robots were deployed. On watching "hotspots" for enemy activity: "Robots can take the soldiers' places. They can continuously keep watch on an area, and if nefarious activity is spotted, we can take appropriate action. ... We can kill those bastards before they plant the IEDs"

    This is a combat general in charge of a major Army command making it happen.

  • What? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Tibia1 (1615959)
    The most society changing robot on the rise is the... vacuum cleaner? Was that a joke?
  • I have doubts (Score:2, Interesting)

    I suspect it will be too easy to create effective countermeasures to make military robots a real threat. After all since the robots are identical the same countermeasure will be effective for all of them. They will also have simple sensors which are easier to trick than human soldiers.
  • They don't need humanoid robots to make fully autonomous killing machines. They already have RPVs with weapons mounted (eg, Predator), and they have autonomous weapons systems (eg, mines).

The trouble with the rat-race is that even if you win, you're still a rat. -- Lily Tomlin

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