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Robotics The Military Hardware

'Ban Killer Bots,' Urges Human Rights Watch 297

Taco Cowboy writes "A self-proclaimed 'Human Rights Group' — the 'International Human Rights Clinic' from Harvard Law School — has teamed up with 'Human Rights Watch' to urge the banning of 'Killer Robots.' A report issued by the Human Rights Watch, with the title of 'Losing Humanity,' claimed autonomous drones that could attack without human intervention would make war easier and endanger civilians. Where's the 'Robot Rights Watch' just when you need 'em?"
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'Ban Killer Bots,' Urges Human Rights Watch

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  • by OrangeTide ( 124937 ) on Monday November 19, 2012 @09:02PM (#42034603) Homepage Journal

    We should go back to using cruise missiles and carpet bombing.

  • Human rights (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Marxdot ( 2699183 ) on Monday November 19, 2012 @09:13PM (#42034705)
    Why would you deride human rights groups, Taco Cowboy? And yes, drones that attack autonomously are a very bad idea.
  • by wierd_w ( 1375923 ) on Monday November 19, 2012 @09:14PM (#42034713)

    While cliche, take a look at "wargames".

    Abstracting away the reality that you are killing people, by making a machine do the actual deed after deployment removes the innate guilt of killing those people.

    It makesit fantastically easier to justify and ignore wholesale slaughter.

    A glitch on the program makes the drone think that anyone carrying a cylinder 2ft long and 1 inch diameter a combatant? (Looks like a gun barrel!) Well, all those poor fuckers carrying brooms and sweeping their patios had it coming! Nevermind those uppity pool boys with dipnets! Can't make an omlette without breaking some eggs, right?!

    When you can simply push a button and walk away without having to witness the attrocities you cause, you abstract away a fair bit of your conscience.

    The military probably thinks that's a GREAT thing! Kids with guns won't cause mental trainwrecks to drones when they get mowed down, and the operator doesn't have to see it!

    The reality is that deploying terminators is the same as turning a blind eye to consequences, and the innately terrible thing that war is, and why it should always be avoided whenever and however possible.

  • Ban (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ThePeices ( 635180 ) on Monday November 19, 2012 @09:17PM (#42034747)

    Trying to ban killer robots is a waste of time, and wont work. There is also little desire to ban them overall, in the interests of health and safety.

    Its safer to kill people using a robot than going out and risking your own skin with guns and/or explosives.
    Remember, in this day and age, safety is paramount. You want to be able to kill people from a distance, safely and easily. Why run the risk of getting injured, or even worse, getting killed, when you can kill people using safer methods? Using a robot to kill people just makes sense.

    Even worse, you could get sued for endangering the safety of others and breaking health and safety regulations. Killing other people can be a dangerous business, so reducing potential hazards and minimizing harm is a very prudent and right thing to do. You need to be able to kill people safely and efficiently. If you can kill people at a lower cost, then that is even better.

    Thats why drones are so popular nowadays. All the benefits of killing people, without all the personal risk. Its a win-win all round.

    Makes sense doesn't it?

  • by ThatsMyNick ( 2004126 ) on Monday November 19, 2012 @09:19PM (#42034769)

    Nope, but we dont need fully autonomous killer robots either. Would you rather have a robot determine if a target is worth killing, rather than a human?

  • by ThePeices ( 635180 ) on Monday November 19, 2012 @09:26PM (#42034847)

    But we have all been taught from an early age that it is wrong to feel guilt for killing bad guys. If you feel guilty, then you are *for* the bad guys, and therefore one of *them*. ( remember, its a binary good/evil world we live in, amiright?)

    Killing bad guys is doing your country a service, we are taught. We are making the world a better place, a safer place, when we kill our enemies.

    This we are taught. If any one disagrees with that, then they are unpatriotic, and aiding and abetting the enemy.

    This we are taught, so it must be true.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 19, 2012 @09:44PM (#42035071)

    Dude have you seen what happens when people are forced to kill face-to-face? They don't rely on their "conscience" to limit human casualties, they mentally reassign their opponents as non-human and murder them like you or I would murder a termite colony infesting our houses. History is nothing but one long string of horrific atrocity after atrocity committed by warring factions against the opposing side, or civilians, or even their own comrades in arms if there isn't a convenient "other" nearby they can target. Moving to a more abstracted method of fighting isn't just about saving our own forces' physical and mental well-being, it's also about limiting the damage they cause to others when they snap from the pressure and take their aggression out on whoever's available.

    Of course we need to monitor our use of robots - we need a system of checks and balances in place to keep the controllers from engaging in unnecessary combat. But drones don't mass-rape, they don't torture old men and little children for fun, they don't raid houses to steal anything of value within, they don't build towers out of the skulls of their enemies, and they won't burn entire villages to the ground massacring everyone within because they're upset that their buddy was killed in combat the other day. Human involvement isn't always a good thing.

  • by poity ( 465672 ) on Monday November 19, 2012 @09:46PM (#42035085)

    No one has autonomous battlefield drones yet, and I highly doubt any military would rely on them, ever. Well.. unless it's a robot military after they gain sentience and create their own civilization, but then they would be as human as us.

  • by Eevee ( 535658 ) on Monday November 19, 2012 @09:50PM (#42035131)

    A glitch on the program makes the drone think that anyone carrying a cylinder 2ft long and 1 inch diameter a combatant? (Looks like a gun barrel!) Well, all those poor fuckers carrying brooms and sweeping their patios had it coming! Nevermind those uppity pool boys with dipnets! Can't make an omlette without breaking some eggs, right?!

    So you're for robots and drones, right? Because right now the glitch in programming is when human soldiers in a combat area see someone with something that might be a weapon, they tend to shoot them. Why? Because the ones going "Is that a weapon or is it a broom" don't tend to last when it is actually is a weapon. A drone operator, on the other hand, can take the time to evaluate the situation since they aren't in harm's way.

  • by wierd_w ( 1375923 ) on Monday November 19, 2012 @10:02PM (#42035299)

    You are not comprehending what I am telling you.

    War is to be avoided, because nothing about it is good, just, nor honorable. War scars the minds of those who engage in it, live through it, or even witness it first hand. The damage and price of war is more than just soldiers killed and buildings blown up. It is the destruction of people's lives, in every imaginable sense. Surviving a war might be less humane than dieing in it.

    The point was that by removing the consequences of war, (soldiers becoming bloodthirsty psychos that rape, kill, torture, and lose respect for the lives of others, all others-- in addition to simply having people die, and having economic and environmental catatrophes on your hands), you make war look more and more desirable as an option.

    What I was trying to get you to see, is that war is always a bad thing, and trying to mae it seem like less of a bad thing is the WRONG way to go about it.

  • by wierd_w ( 1375923 ) on Monday November 19, 2012 @10:14PM (#42035451)

    No. You fail to comprehend my position at all.

    There shouldn't be anyone making that decision. At all.

    Making that decision easier, by having a machine do it, to alleviate the guilt of a human operator, and his chain of command, is the WRONG direction.

    Want to know where it ends?the creation of things like "perfect" WMDs. Kills all the people, spares everything else. Push the button, war is over. A whole society dies, and the one pushing the button loses nothing. What possible reason would that society have to NOT simply push that button whenever it didn't get what it wanted, or to theaten to push it when it didt get its way?

    THAT is the danger of abstracted warfare. It makes the decision to go to war easier. It makes ware a more desirable option.

    I support 'war isn't a real option, it's an outcome of aggression. It should never BE CHOSEN.'

    So, no. I don't support drones, and I don't support soldiers.

  • Wrong target (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gmuslera ( 3436 ) on Monday November 19, 2012 @10:41PM (#42035739) Homepage Journal
    Killer Bots dont kill people, people kills people. Ban the people responsible for those killer bots, and, uh... oh, wait, they just got reelected.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 19, 2012 @10:55PM (#42035863)

    a scortched earth policy: where you knock down granaries, cripple tractors and plows, break down damns and salt the earth if you have to is not really the kind of society we wish to represent.

  • War and Pacifism (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gd2shoe ( 747932 ) on Monday November 19, 2012 @11:08PM (#42035977) Journal

    Indeed. Humans NEVER accept that the answer is so simple.

    Don't resort to war. If your cause requires forcing somebody else at gunpoint to comply, it isn't just, it isn't honorable, and it cannot be justified. So, just don't do it.

    Let's say that China attacks Guam tomorrow, and starts moving for Hawaii and the US mainland. What should be done? What should France have done when Germany invaded them in the blitzkrieg?

    Clearly somebody isn't justified in any war. Frequently it's both parties. However, it is the height of intellectual dishonesty to say that war is never justified for any of the participants.

    Yes, war is never, ever a good thing. Sometimes, though, it really is better than the alternative.

  • by russotto ( 537200 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @12:00AM (#42036493) Journal
    ...will be killed by the robots of those who don't.
  • by wierd_w ( 1375923 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @01:34AM (#42037135)

    The problem with making war "clean and precise" is that you remove all the disincentives to engage in war to begin with.

    At the press of a button, the insurgents/terrorists/rebels/invaders/$targetedPeople all die, cleanly, humanely.

    That is the ultimate evolution of the direction you advocate.
    Who decides who is the target and who isn't? What happens if there is a miscalculation?

    Now do you see why this is bad?

  • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) * <> on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @08:43AM (#42039259) Homepage Journal

    And it's probably a good thing that drone operators do get PTSD. Not for them, obviously, but for the innocent people on the ground whose only hope of survival is that drone operator hesitating when he isn't 100% sure who he is firing at.

    War has to be nasty and carry horrible consequences for both sides, otherwise it will become too easy. IMHO it already has.

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982