Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Robotics The Military

Killer Military Robot Arms Race Underway? 332

coondoggie writes to tell us NetworkWorld is reporting that one researcher seems to think that a military robot arms race may be imminent between both governments and terrorists. "We are beginning to see the first steps towards an international robot arms race and it may not be long before robots become a standard terrorist weapon to replace the suicide bomber, according to professor Noel Sharkey, from the Royal United Services Institute Department of Computer Science. [...] Currently there is always a human in the loop to decide on the use of lethal force. However, this is set to change with the US giving priority to autonomous weapons - robots that will decide on where, when and who to kill, according to the professor."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Killer Military Robot Arms Race Underway?

Comments Filter:
  • obligated (Score:4, Funny)

    by liquidmpls ( 839148 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @05:23PM (#22578954)
    I for one welcome our new killer robot overlords yeah sorry, i just needed to get it out of the way to make room for the real discussion about skynet
  • by s20451 ( 410424 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @05:23PM (#22578966) Journal
    "Is that an aibo? Man, I haven't seen one of those since ..." BLAM!
    • by stoolpigeon ( 454276 ) * <bittercode@gmail> on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @05:29PM (#22579074) Homepage Journal
      That's funny - but it's also true. We are a long, long way out from terrorists using robots. And they don't need to go high tech like that when they can round up some local people who are mentally handicapped and rig them up. That looks to have been working pretty well for them. Why add the cost of building a robot that will be spotted right off?
      • by Pojut ( 1027544 )
        This is related to something I was thinking about last night, actually...what with all the suicide bombings going on, and the number of casualties that "the terrorists" must have sustained at this point...won't they eventually start running low on personnel?
        • by rrkap ( 634128 )
          It isn't that hard to make more people. In fact its kind of fun. Outside of a pretty intense war, making enough people for all your suicide bombing needs doesn't seem like too high of a hurdle.
        • by stoolpigeon ( 454276 ) * <bittercode@gmail> on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @05:47PM (#22579386) Homepage Journal
          From what I've read - and I'm no expert - they recruit heavily from many parts of the world, and I think it has been pretty well documented, that they have also used unwilling participants by either lying to them or taking advantage of people with limited mental capacity. I've seen television footage on youtube and such that seems to indicate that in places like Palestine they are doing their best to indoctrinate children in a manner that will make them more likely to be candidates when they get older.
          I would think that automated weaponry can only help counter-terrorism forces, unless there is some kind of huge mishap or malfunction. The terrorists depend on fighting the will of their opponent. Would so many in the US be so hot to leave Iraq if there were not so many American casualties? I personally doubt it.
          On a side note - I'm not interested in debating foreign policy or the situation in the middle east as far as who's at fault, right/wrong, etc. Just commenting on what I know of current conditions.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Pojut ( 1027544 )

            Would so many in the US be so hot to leave Iraq if there were not so many American casualties? I personally doubt it.

            I agree with this, for the most part. The only reservation that I have with it is that when you compare wars in the middle east (includes the Iraq/Afghanistan wars and Desert Storm) to wars in America's past history, hardly anyone has been killed (again, comparitively). Granted, there have been many MANY casualties on the American side, but not really all that many KIAs.

        • by GreyyGuy ( 91753 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @05:58PM (#22579562)
          Statistically, there are not very many suicide bombers. Just a few makes more than enough impact.

          As for recruiting, the USA has been demonized by terrorist groups, and unfortunately the US has given lots of recruiting ammunition with Iraq and the problems there. Combine that with a lack of communication of all sides of the issues, a large uneducated population, and a fundamentalist religious group that makes fighting and dying "holy", and there is little chance of the terrorist groups running out of recruits.
        • ..won't they eventually start running low on personnel?
          Yes! [usatoday.com] Er, what was the question?
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by mobby_6kl ( 668092 )
          >won't they eventually start running low on personnel?

          Sure, but then they'll just start strapping the explosives to random retarded/crazy people [nytimes.com]. If one RTFA, it appears that the women didn't actually have Down syndrome as originally claimed, but were possibly schizophrenic instead. Convincing these folks should be quite a bit easier than selling the 72 virgins story.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by moosesocks ( 264553 )
          There's a very fine line between "terrorist" and "people who are pissed off because their country is being occupied"

          As long as we're in Iraq (and making an absolute mess of it), we're providing impetus to breed more terrorists.

          You cannot eliminate terrorism without addressing the underlying causes. There is no vast underground terrorist network. Just a lot of very pissed-off individuals.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by MrSteveSD ( 801820 )
        Well the "Mentally Handicapped Suicide Bombers" story was perpetuated by the US Military. It has since turned out to be false.
        • You have a source on that? I'm not just talking about the 2 most recent either. My understanding is that this has been sop for some time. I've not seen anything to show otherwise and would be interested if you could point me towards new information.
        • by ichthus ( 72442 )
          Yeah, I second stoolpigeon's request for a source on that. Until you can produce something to counter this story [dailymail.co.uk], (note the non-US military source) I have no respect for your opinion (free as you are to spew it) or those who modded you "Informative."
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Irvu ( 248207 )
        Somewhat snarky (or sick) as this sounds I think you are right. The one true advantage that a suicide bomber confers is actually not the cheapness but the use of a human at all. As much as we may tend to hear them described as terrorists, etc. the simple fact of the matter is that most sucide bombers are anything but true believers but the misled, the misguided or the depressed.

        But however much their personal reasons vary the fact that they are willing to blow themselves up sends a clear, and direct messa
  • No!! (Score:2, Funny)

    by olclops ( 591840 )
    Dammit! This robot arms race is only going to distract robot researchers from the vastly more important goal: the robot sex race.
    • Probably not (Score:4, Insightful)

      by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @05:31PM (#22579122) Journal
      It is almost assured that we will have sex robots within another 10 years. WHy? 1 word; Money. How much money is made by prostitution? Even illegal, it rivals drugs.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by vux984 ( 928602 )
        really? you think people would switch to robots from prostitutes? I mean, isn't part of the appeal to straight men for straight sex that the other person be a female person. Would a plastic and metal animatronic doll with a vibrating functions and pelvic thrusts really satisfy that need?

        I see sex robots as appealing to people with a blow up sex doll and too much money.

        I won't be surprised to see them arrive, but I'm skeptical they are going to be received as much more than ridiculously expensive sex toys. A
        • Plus they would be difficult to hide when you have company over.

          "What's that over there? Is that that robot?"

          "Oh, its nothing, pay no attention to the robot with the multiple orifices over there"

          You need to figure in the economics of discretion.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Chris Burke ( 6130 )
          What was that you said about multi-thousand dollar sex dolls [realdoll.com]?
          • Give the ability to control that animitronically over the internet...

            And you could also save the data stream so you could replay a session you enjoyed.

            Main problem with real dolls for the purely physical side is they can't move effectively yet.

        • The reality is that casinos currently allow prostitution in, but will not trade in the flesh itself. They are afraid of the stigma. But once they can sell a sex bot for say 100/night with no fear of STDs, unions, worries about how they will be perceived, child prostitution, etc, then All of vegas will carry them. It will be followed by Nevada allowing it. And finally, EVERY state (save maybe utah), will allow these. All in all, it will allow ppl like craig, or haggard, to get their jollies and not be techni
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by vux984 ( 928602 )
            All in all, it will allow ppl like craig, or haggard, to get their jollies and not be technically cheating.

            Knowing they are really just masturbating with a sex doll that will be enough to turn most people off the whole idea. If the expense hasn't.

            Sure it might do well as a novelty in Vegas as another entertainment diversion, but as a substitution for prostitutes or even just casual promiscuity/infidelity? I'm unconvinced.

            After all, it is not sex, it is masturbating with a sex toy. In fact, this will probabl
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by hairyfeet ( 841228 )
          You are forgetting the "stepford wife" ego stroking,which will make them worth much more than a hooker. Imagine coming home from a hard day to supermodel that tells you how wonderful you are,has a hot meal(perfectly prepared) waiting for you,and afterwards rubs your belly while telling you how she just can't wait to fulfill all of your kinky fantasies,which she does while telling you what a great stud you are.Oh,Yeah,and she looks like your dreamgirl. They'll have backorders that'll make the Wii at Xmas loo
    • Re:No!! (Score:5, Funny)

      by moderatorrater ( 1095745 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @05:32PM (#22579124)
      Either way we're fucked.
  • Someone has to send the robot. At least until Skynet is built.
    • Oh someone will send a robot sooner or later. And if they want to keep sending them, they will most likely be programmed to do as much damage as possible before self destructing for further damage and to avoid capture and forensic analysis to track it back to its owner/creator.

      If we are lucky, their self destruct will be as touchy as that probe in the Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Way to easy for Han to pop it once when Chewie distracted it for a moment. Kaboom!

  • 4:24PM EST and so far the tag hasn't shown up. What's the over/under time on when this story will be tagged whatcouldpossiblygowrong?
  • by Ilan Volow ( 539597 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @05:27PM (#22579034) Homepage
    If robotic innocent civilians can be manufactured to replace the humans blown up by military bots and suicide bomber bots, then no one has to die.
  • The future (Score:5, Funny)

    by Eudial ( 590661 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @05:28PM (#22579040)
    Yes, I look into my crystal sphere, and in it I see the future comments of this thread:

    * Yes, but do they have frickin' laser beams attached to their head?
    * In soviet Russia, Robots arm YOU!
    * I, for one, welcome our new gun-toting robot overlords (points for being uncomfortably close to the truth)
    * References to the matrix or terminator series and/or I robot.
  • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @05:28PM (#22579058) Journal
    this will continue. The advantage that countries have over terrorist is the ability to build these faster, and more, while the terrorist will have the advantage of needing just a few to hit a relatively none moving enemy. Of course, the real issue will be what happens when 2 major nations move from a cold war to a hot war. Will they use the robots and lasers? I suspect that the next "great" war will be fought in just that context.

    Now, ir we can turn these robots into good civil use, then it will help. In particular, if we really want to settle on Mars and perhaps the moon, we will need robots. They will enable us to do the building in a fraction of the time and most likely at a fraction of the costs.
    • FTFA:

      Professor Sharkey is reluctant to explain how such robots could be made but he points out that a small GPS guided drone with autopilot could be made for about $200.
      In other words, a flying bomb made from an RC plane/blimp.

      The first time one of these goes off, that'll be the end of RC aviation in the USA.
      • You are correct. Model rocketry is all but dead since 9/11.

        You don't even need GPS. If your target is a building all you need is knowledge of a clear path from your launch point to your target. A small computer such as the Basic Stamp should be sufficient to guide your crude/cruise missle.

        The only real problem is finding a substance with sufficient explosive capacity that a model plane can lift it and manuever with it.

        Of course if you are willing to have line of sight to your target you can sit on a h

    • Now, ir we can turn these robots into good civil use, then it will help. In particular, if we really want to settle on Mars and perhaps the moon

      Once we build a robot army and then turn it loose, there'll be plenty of empty (freshly cleared), dirt cheap property here on planet Earth, no need to goto the moon or Mars.

      • Simply take obtain a sample of avian flu, mix it in human volunteers who are carrying regular flu and then allow new volunteers to tend to these ppl. Quit once several come down with avian flu (i.e. it is not able to jump to humans via airborne). Take sample out from blood, grow it and then create vaccine against it.
        Now take the virus and inject it in volunteers that are placed in various places through the world (airports, movie theaters, basketball games, malls, etc). By the time that the world realizes
  • Nonsense (Score:2, Insightful)

    Why would I, a terrorist, go to all the effort of developing and building a sophisticated machine when I can can just blow stuff up?

    Blowing stuff up is:
    - Easier
    - Cheaper
    - Faster
    - Harder to detect in advance
    - Scarier

    Maybe if I could take control of robots the military creates it would be worth some effort. But why bother? They're already something we should all be scared of: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/10/19/sa_gun_death_probe/ [theregister.co.uk]
    • Re:Nonsense (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @06:40PM (#22580300) Homepage
      Why would I, a terrorist, go to all the effort of developing and building a sophisticated machine when I can can just blow stuff up?

      Well in a battle between a nation-state's military and a guerrilla force, "sophisticated" is relative and the arms race can be neck-and-neck while both sides still operate at completely different levels of sophistication.

      Look at the arms race between the IEDs used by insurgents in Iraq and our army -- they go from simple stashes of explosives buried under ground, to re-purposed mines in stacks to even shaped charges, while we go from armored Humvees to MRAPs. They're still basically using cobbled together piles of high explosives, while we're using extremely expensive vehicles, and we're trying to come from behind in this race.

      Or the terrorist equivalent of our cruise missiles -- an old station wagon stuffed with explosives and driven by a would-be martyr.

      Similarly, a "sophisticated" robot or the terrorists might be a wheeled pallet with a simple electric motor and some kind of remote control (even a thin wire based one to prevent jamming or source tracking like they do now with IEDs) that can carry a pile of explosives into the line of police recruits or next to the checkpoint. While our robot has to be something with complicated vision and maneuvering and fire control systems, and that might put the two robots on somewhat equal footing.

      Of course in the absolute sense of terrorists actually trying to match the technology we deploy, that's simply insane, just as much as it is for them to use APCs or cruise missiles when there are much simpler but from their standpoint equally effective methods. In this sense you're absolutely right.

      Also, I'm with you on having autonomous guns that make their own decisions on when to fire is a very bad idea. You can have the robot decide how to shoot, even exactly when and where. But the question of whether the robot shoots at all should be decided by a human.

  • Obligatory (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sam_paris ( 919837 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @05:30PM (#22579090)
    What about Asimov's three laws of Robotics? (particularly law 1)

    A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
    A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
    A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

    (and ps: yes I know these are just fictional but I can't pass up a chance to quote the master...hell he even invented the word Robotics!)
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Cedric Tsui ( 890887 )
      The laws in that order confuse me.

      Because some kid could walk up to a robot, and tell it to waltz off a cliff and it would do so. (in such a way as to not kill any people on the way down) I believe the second and third laws would need to be switched.
      • Well, that would mean if you have a malfunctioning Robot, which you need to destroy (let's say with a laser because it's cool). You order the robot to remain still and do not move, you point the laser at the robot, as the third and second laws are switched, the Robot would try and act so as to prevent you from firing. Either by disarming you (without harming you) or running away.

        Another example, if the robot is working in a dangerous environment, it would stop working anytime it considers it's existence
    • by EdIII ( 1114411 ) *
      There is always a missing factor when people reference these 3 laws in an attempt to apply it to robots in the future. It ONLY applies to VERY intelligent robots who possess cognitive faculties in excess of any human being.

      First Law - A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

      The "injure" part of the law does seem pretty straightforward. From simple inspection of a human being's behavior to advanced medical sensing equipment, a robot could determi

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Rick Genter ( 315800 )

        In fact, I do remember a SciFi novel in which these robots got out of hand and eventually restricted our actions to the extreme, since it may cause us harm. Even eating a cheeseburger.

        "With Folded Hands" by Jack Williamson, 1947. An all-time classic, and one that still gives me the absolute creeps today.
  • Cats and newspapers (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Harmonious Botch ( 921977 ) * on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @05:31PM (#22579106) Homepage Journal
    Until someone can build an automatic vacuum cleaner that does not try to eat my cat, or an automated lawnmower that does not trim the newspaper, I'm not going to worry.
    Even if the tech does reach that level, building a military bot is another level beyond that. And somehow, I think that it is not going to be well understood by guys whose concept of hi-tech is a retractable box knife.
    It's gonna be a longgg time before I worry.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @05:42PM (#22579280)

      Until someone can build an automatic vacuum cleaner that does not try to eat my cat, or an automated lawnmower that does not trim the newspaper, I'm not going to worry.
      I'm not quite sure I understand your reasoning. You seem to be making the following points:
      1) Current autonomous robots damage their surroundings and are hard to control.
      2) The military (and possibly terrorists) want to put really big guns on autonomous robots.
      3) Therefore you are NOT going to worry.

      Either I misinterpreted you, or you have an interesting view of what to worry about.
    • by batquux ( 323697 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @05:45PM (#22579338)

      Until someone can build an automatic vacuum cleaner that does not try to eat my cat, or an automated lawnmower that does not trim the newspaper, I'm not going to worry.
      That is precisely why this does worry me.
    • Terrorists may not be able to manufacture a cellphone or the Internet, but they sure can (and do) attack us with them.
  • and it may not be long before robots become a standard terrorist weapon to replace the suicide bomber

    This won't happen until suicide bombers fail to believe that 1,000s of virgins wait in the afterlife for them.
  • Why would terrorists use robots to replace suicide bombers? These people haven't even figured out how to use timers yet*, I don't think deathbringing robots will be their first foray into the world of technology.

    *: Yes, OK, I know it probably isn't so much a case of "haven't figured out" as "chosen not to use", but in either case my point remains valid.
  • by Coraon ( 1080675 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @05:32PM (#22579132)
    Long and short, when we let robots do our fighting for us, it becomes so cheep to make war that its cheaper to make war then peace. his is why I feel that people should always be required for the front line, war has to suck so it will always be a last resort.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      so since when has the fact that war sucks for the grunts ever stopped an actual war? seriously, go ahead and use robots for the frontlines, that way there aren't any poor bastards that have to die for their countries just because the people in charge don't like the other people in charge.
  • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @05:32PM (#22579136) Homepage Journal
    Really it is just a matter of how long it is between when you pull the trigger. Land mines, Air to air missiles, surface to air missiles, Captor mines, Even some torpedoes are all killer robots and have been around for a good long time.
  • First comes the robot wars then one side figures out cloning of humans and makes the ultimate soldier... or Bobba Fet's dad.
  • I think it will be a VERY long time before robots replace suicide bombers. Why don't we see remote controlled car bombs? They look conspicuous. Imagine Robocop with TNT strapped to him coming in to your building. More importantly, suicide bombers can be bought for less.
  • by CSMatt ( 1175471 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @05:34PM (#22579164)
    Killbots have a preset kill limit. Send wave after wave of your men at them until they shut down.
  • by Radon360 ( 951529 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @05:37PM (#22579198)

    This short article seems to do little more than stir the FUD pot.

    If you want to talk about having unmanned, remote control vehicles, some of which require little more than occasional supervisory control most of the time, I'm with you. We have them already, and more are in development all over the world. Expect to see lots more of them come about in the near future. As alluded to, this will be the robot arms race.

    Terrorists using remote controlled devices to deploy and detonate bombs? Sure. It's not all that hard to believe that someone with some decent technical skills can put together a remote control kit on a full-sized car, then strap explosives to it (for example).

    But c'mon. Killbots that can think and function completely on their own? ...and be effective enough in its mission to justify the costs of deploying it in lieu of something remote controlled by a human? Such a device is still a ways off for the U.S. Military, let alone some terrorist organization.

  • by Hoi Polloi ( 522990 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @05:40PM (#22579234) Journal
    Get your RC controllers and servos now before the government bans them.
  • 3-2-1 ACTIVATE (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Mushdot ( 943219 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @05:40PM (#22579250) Homepage

    I think this is a natural progression for nations with an organised military. Once the basics are down machines can be churned out much quicker than we can train humans and you don't need to be as accurate and quick thinking as a human would be - sheer numbers and a shotgun approach would suffice and so who has the greatest manufacturing capacity would have the advantage.

    Looking further into the future I'm sure wars will be fought totally on a technological basis e.g. hacking networks to shut down utilities and enemy soldiers to disable them etc. Maybe even further along wars will be won and lost without loss of human life - "Ok we surrender, we have no food, water or power and our Unisols are pointing their guns at us. You can have our continent."

    I may have the wrong sci-fi series but I'm sure I remember a Star Trek episode where wars were fought by computer and afterward the required number of human casualties were euthanised to balance the books? Maybe at that point the geek shall inherit the earth and FPS skills will finally be recognised for what they are :-)

  • Futurism isn't (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Merovign ( 557032 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @05:41PM (#22579260)
    1) Robot suicide bombers isn't exactly an ethical step down for bombers - and it lacks martyr value.

    2) I imagine fear of friendly fire will keep handlers at the controls of robots for quite some time.

    3) I think there have been a few robotic sentries made that act autonomously but constantly report and can be overridden (S. Korea, perhaps?)...

    4) Unsettling thought the implications may be, eventually I think robotic, autonomous war machines will be built - and for the builders, it will be quite a plus. Probably a bit of a downer for everyone else.

    It may be seen in retrospect as another of those "Roman Conquest" moments where a powerful, advanced culture stomps all over more primitive cultures - but the survivors end up better off, at least for a while. History, like sausages, is a process whose benefits are better (more comfortably) enjoyed than understood.
  • Fanatics are far easier and cheaper to come by and train than robots, for at least several more years.
  • by trybywrench ( 584843 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @05:50PM (#22579446)
    There will always be a human in the loop as far as semi-autonomous weapons go. I'm surprised anyone on slashdot would think otherwise. Maybe 50 years from now an AI would have the intelligence to separate friend from foe from bystander but the tech is simply not there now.

    I imagine what we'll see is weapons deployed around the world with their controllers located somewhere else safe. That means easier/faster deployment and none of your own soldiers in harm's way. Maybe UAV's push proposed targets to commanders instead of commanders pouring over recon :shrug: i can see that but not a pure autonomous firefight. For a long time a human will be giving the final OK to fire.
  • We always worry about what will happen if the robots aren't able to discern combatants and non combatants well enough, but what if we turn out to build robots that are better at it than us? Ones that can pinpoint the source of gunfire [slashdot.org] from a crowd. Ones of infinite calm, whom won't be startled, fatigued [time.com], or angered into making a terrible mistake or committing outright murder. Yes that technology has far to go, yes tele-communication as it currently stands is insufficient to replace ground patrol units, but
  • There are plenty of possibilities for terrorism with "robots". Model Aircraft can be easily adapted to drop a grenade or two. You could even pack a model plane with explosives and ball bearings and just fly it into your target. You can already buy cheap video cameras that transmit live pictures back from your models while they are in flight, so you could basically make a video-guided bomb on a fairly low budget. We will probably see this sort of thing before too long.
  • by Jtheletter ( 686279 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @06:05PM (#22579674)
    I've been watching this story slowly spread around the net today since I develop for some of the systems referred to. The whole thing is a bunch of hand-waving 'OMG teh robotz will kills us all!' page rank generating crap.
    First, very few robotic systems in the whole world right now are even weaponized, yet we're supposed to believe automated killing is "just around the corner". Second, no military anywhere has deployed fully automated (no human on trigger/joystick) weaponized systems ever, yet we're to expect legions of them very soon. Third, "terrorists" will supposedly get their hands on these systems and reverse engineer them to their advantage - do I even need to explain how improbable this is? Military and private research funded to the tune of billions haven't even been able to develop these systems yet, but we're supposed to believe some terrorist organizations with almost no funding and little access to high-level engineers will be able to understand and rework these same nonexistent systems. Is it impossible? No. I don't doubt that given enough time eventually some extremist group will have a CS PhD/MS level member who could figure something out. That still doesn't negate the fact that no groups have even captured and reverse-engineered current robotic systems, which are much less advanced than this alleged future autonomous platform would be. And finally, if one of the major world governments developed and deployed fully autonomous armed robots, does anyone really think there wouldn't be a remote shutdown/disable sequence or other back door?
    It's fun to discuss possible dystopian Terminator style futures, but it annoys me to no end when some researcher or professor says we're all imminently doomed and the net runs away with the idea. We're still very far from fully automated systems with weapons. Even US tanks, which have highly advanced target acquisition and recognition systems, aren't fired except by a human operator. You'll see fully automated targeting and firing in manned vehicles long before you see it in unmanned platforms IMHO.

    And to stem off people who point out that many UAVs fly totally unmanned, with weapons, and with no joystick control - there are multiple ground operators constantly monitoring and updating mission parameters for each of these UAVs, also all firing sequences are still human in the loop.
  • either
    1) Make sure that your weapons cannot be reprogrammed by the enemy
    2) Make certain that your mobile robotic weapons recognize the difference between friendly robotic weapons and those of the foe, as well as make sure it recognizes a new robotic devices as threatening before the small rat sized robots suicide bomb your 3 million dollar killing machine
    3) Buy stock in Duracell
    4) Invent anti-EMP armor before deploying $50 million dollars worth of machine gun
    5) ..
    6) buy stock in Duracell
    7) profit
  • This would be a great thing. A robot arms race is something the US could win easily. Much easier than convincing people to stop blowing themselves up...
  • by CaptCrunk ( 859386 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @06:16PM (#22579892)
    What's next? Killer robot legs? What happens when they get the whole killer robot put together? I answer: Mecha-Streisand.
  • The concerning thing to me here is the software that runs them. I'm sure it will be top secret and most people will not be allowed to see it. They will claim this cuts down on people being able to exploit them, but will lead to bad code and Skynet in the end. I think the only way a robot of complex AI would/should be allowed to be released into the wild is if Everyone gets to sign off on him (@see encryption, just cause you think you got it right, doesn't mean that you're right, in fact if often means qu
  • by jhRisk ( 1055806 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @06:35PM (#22580212)
    To those that challenge whether terrorists would use robots in the future, I disagree.

    Terrorists don't make 155 mm artillery shells or munitions of any type. They rig what's available and hence IED, VBIED and other such improvised weapons are based on the highly available and cheap unspent munitions. Therefore it's not inconceivable that if sufficient "modern" militaries use robots in the future terrorists will be fashioning their new weapons out of those pieces instead. It will not be as good as the original, they're not going to build them from scratch nor somehow innovate since there's no need to. Just like their current versions of improvised weapons it'll be what they can slap together to at least scare if not also do some harm. It sounds crazy but I can see militaries in the future abandoning the "robot casualties" in war before learning how they can be used against them. After all, we don't seem to learn much from history and it'll likely be much like weapons caches left behind in past wars and other mistakes from a lack of foresight on our part.

Today is the first day of the rest of your lossage.