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Automated killer robots 'threat to humanity': expert

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Old 02-28-2008, 10:29 AM   #1
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Automated killer robots 'threat to humanity': expert

Automated killer robots 'threat to humanity': expert

Feb 27 06:18 AM US/Eastern

Increasingly autonomous, gun-totting robots developed for warfare could easily fall into the hands of terrorists and may one day unleash a robot arms race, a top expert on artificial intelligence told AFP.
"They pose a threat to humanity," said University of Sheffield professor Noel Sharkey ahead of a keynote address Wednesday before Britain's Royal United Services Institute.

Intelligent machines deployed on battlefields around the world -- from mobile grenade launchers to rocket-firing drones -- can already identify and lock onto targets without human help.

There are more than 4,000 US military robots on the ground in Iraq, as well as unmanned aircraft that have clocked hundreds of thousands of flight hours.

The first three armed combat robots fitted with large-caliber machine guns deployed to Iraq last summer, manufactured by US arms maker Foster-Miller, proved so successful that 80 more are on order, said Sharkey.

But up to now, a human hand has always been required to push the button or pull the trigger.

It we are not careful, he said, that could change.

Military leaders "are quite clear that they want autonomous robots as soon as possible, because they are more cost-effective and give a risk-free war," he said.


Several countries, led by the United States, have already invested heavily in robot warriors developed for use on the battlefield.

South Korea and Israel both deploy armed robot border guards, while China, India, Russia and Britain have all increased the use of military robots.

Washington plans to spend four billion dollars by 2010 on unmanned technology systems, with total spending expected rise to 24 billion, according to the Department of Defense's Unmanned Systems Roadmap 2007-2032, released in December.

James Canton, an expert on technology innovation and CEO of the Institute for Global Futures, predicts that deployment within a decade of detachments that will include 150 soldiers and 2,000 robots.

The use of such devices by terrorists should be a serious concern, said Sharkey.

Captured robots would not be difficult to reverse engineer, and could easily replace suicide bombers as the weapon-of-choice. "I don't know why that has not happened already," he said.

But even more worrisome, he continued, is the subtle progression from the semi-autonomous military robots deployed today to fully independent killing machines.

"I have worked in artificial intelligence for decades, and the idea of a robot making decisions about human termination terrifies me," Sharkey said.


Ronald Arkin of Georgia Institute of Technology, who has worked closely with the US military on robotics, agrees that the shift towards autonomy will be gradual.

But he is not convinced that robots don't have a place on the front line.

"Robotics systems may have the potential to out-perform humans from a perspective of the laws of war and the rules of engagement," he told a conference on technology in warfare at Stanford University last month.

The sensors of intelligent machines, he argued, may ultimately be better equipped to understand an environment and to process information. "And there are no emotions that can cloud judgement, such as anger," he added.

Nor is there any inherent right to self-defence.

For now, however, there remain several barriers to the creation and deployment of Terminator-like killing machines.

Some are technical. Teaching a computer-driven machine -- even an intelligent one -- how to distinguish between civilians and combatants, or how to gauge a proportional response as mandated by the Geneva Conventions, is simply beyond the reach of artificial intelligence today.


But even if technical barriers are overcome, the prospect of armies increasingly dependent on remotely-controlled or autonomous robots raises a host of ethical issues that have barely been addressed.

Arkin points out that the US Department of Defense's 230 billion dollar Future Combat Systems programme -- the largest military contract in US history -- provides for three classes of aerial and three land-based robotics systems.

"But nowhere is there any consideration of the ethical implications of the weaponisation of these systems," he said.

For Sharkey, the best solution may be an outright ban on autonomous weapons systems. "We have to say where we want to draw the line and what we want to do -- and then get an international agreement," he said.


Copyright AFP 2008, AFP stories and photos shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium

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Old 02-28-2008, 10:52 AM   #2
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I for one welcome our robot overlords.
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Old 02-28-2008, 10:57 AM   #3
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Skynet!
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Old 02-28-2008, 10:59 AM   #4
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someone should make a movie about this
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Old 02-28-2008, 11:00 AM   #5
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file this in the 'duh, no shit!' foums. (unless the robots are programmed to kill only other killer robots, then it turns in to a tv show!)
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Old 02-28-2008, 11:02 AM   #6
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Arkin points out that the US Department of Defense's 230 billion dollar Future Combat Systems programme -- the largest military contract in US history -- uprovides for three classes of aerial and three land-based robotics systems.

That is almost 4 times the current military budget of China.

Fuck sakes that is a lot of money
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Old 02-28-2008, 12:04 PM   #7
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there's still time to stop the machines. is John Conner supposed to have been born yet?
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Old 02-28-2008, 12:06 PM   #8
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what's next. troop valet.
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Old 02-28-2008, 01:17 PM   #9
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Strange. We manufacture our robots to kill people so our people don't get killed in the process of trying to kill our enemies. So we worry that the enemy will eventually get a hold of this technology and create robots to do the same thing. And then there's the problem of sentinel robots going awry and killing their masters.

Honestly what's the point of war if you can't kill or be killed. It's silly - might as well settle boundary disputes with a CounterStrike tourney.
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Old 02-28-2008, 01:32 PM   #10
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People don't kill robots. Robots kill robots.
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Old 02-28-2008, 01:38 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acheron
Honestly what's the point of war if you can't kill or be killed. It's silly - might as well settle boundary disputes with a CounterStrike tourney.

One of the central tenets of war is to incapacitate the "enemy's" physical ability to project power or defend resources. While at some point settlement of conflict by way of a chess game would be amazing, unless it translates into the first point, there's no way to make the outcome binding.
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Old 02-28-2008, 01:42 PM   #12
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well, exactly. There's no way that a robot war could possibly avoid human losses on either side.
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Old 02-28-2008, 01:42 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OTIS
One of the central tenets of war is to incapacitate the "enemy's" physical ability to project power or defend resources. While at some point settlement of conflict by way of a chess game would be amazing, unless it translates into the first point, there's no way to make the outcome binding.
Reminds me of that passage in "All Quiet on the Western Front" when our solider narrator tells us from a trench about his fantasies of kings and prime ministers settling their wars in one on one fights...
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Old 02-28-2008, 01:46 PM   #14
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Chess pieces should have some real world association.

Pawns = Manufacturing plants (after workers have been removed, just light those things on fire and watch em burn)
Knights = Jets (Come in hand so don't lose em)
Bishops = Hummers (no relation), and other vehicles.
Rooks = Military Bases/Silo's
Queen = Who ever the woman or man behind the king/evil dictator is. There's always one.
King = Head of evil king/dictator.
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Old 02-28-2008, 01:48 PM   #15
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does this count?

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Old 02-28-2008, 01:51 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acheron
well, exactly. There's no way that a robot war could possibly avoid human losses on either side.

I think 'robots' metaphorically and physically translate into a nation's technological advancement and industrial capacity. While the human cost might be less, the resource cost could possibly be enough to settle conflict by traditional measures.
Quote:
Originally Posted by praktik
Reminds me of that passage in "All Quiet on the Western Front" when our solider narrator tells us from a trench about his fantasies of kings and prime ministers settling their wars in one on one fights...
In the old days of dragons and unicorns, kings did lead their troops into battle. However removed they were from direct conflict, the prospect of being the last man staring at the ends of arrows and catapults is a cost today's leaders can afford not to consider.
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Old 02-28-2008, 01:54 PM   #17
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Timeline

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Old 02-28-2008, 01:57 PM   #18
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There was a story I came across a while back where some dude whose job was a cook ended up training and being the top commander of an unmanned drone because of his videogame skills. While I can't find the original story here's one that mentions it.

How To Fly a Drone
Just pretend like you're playing PlayStation.
source
By Dan Kois
Posted Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2006, at 1:34 PM ET

Download the MP3 audio version of this story here, or sign up for The Explainer's free daily podcast on iTunes.

On Monday, the Israeli air force shot down a Hezbollah drone over Israeli airspace. According to media reports in Israel, the unmanned craft was preparing to drop explosives. How do you pilot an unmanned drone?

Depending on the drone, it's either like playing a video game, flying a remote-controlled plane, or doing data entry. Drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles, are pilotless airplanes used for reconnaissance and surgical attacks. The U.S. Army's drone of choice, the Raven, is a 3-foot-long, camera-equipped miniplane that's "launched" when a soldier winds up and throws it. Once in the air, the Raven is controlled by a book-sized console that looks something like a 1980s-era Coleco football game. The screen at the top displays one of the drone's three video feeds, and the joysticks and buttons at the bottom pilot the craft. Operators can use the sticks to pilot the Raven like a model plane or just preprogram GPS coordinates for the drone to follow. There's even a button that automatically returns the Raven to its launch site.

The Air Force's Predator is much larger and more complex than the Raven. Because the Predator is used for both spying and attacks—it's outfitted with Hellfire missiles as well as video and communications equipment—it needs to be nimble. Predator pilots operate the craft from the ground using a flight stick exactly like one used in an airplane. They also face an array of computer screens streaming data from the Predator's instruments and video from the drone's primary camera while chatting with others involved in the mission via a keyboard and headset. A second crew member, the "sensor," controls the video and communications equipment.

The U.S. military's top-of-the-line drone is the Air Force's Global Hawk. The Hawk is a high-altitude, long-endurance spy plane that's much larger than the tiny Raven or the medium-sized Predator. (Its wingspan is more than 100 feet.) The Global Hawk's sole job is to spy from high above, and it takes little video-game razzle-dazzle to fly it. The pilots simply enter coordinates on computer keyboards while eyeballing a digital representation of the drone's airspace.

The Hezbollah drone, an Iranian-built Mirsad-1, is somewhere between a Raven and a Predator in size and less sophisticated than either. The Mirsad-1 cannot communicate around the globe via satellite technology, and it has no internal GPS navigation system. As a result, the Hezbollah drone was probably operated from a high hilltop by one or two people with joysticks and a laptop—with a drone like this one, it's imperative that the operator never lose direct line of sight.

The Army and the Air Force have very different philosophies in determining who gets to fly drones. The Air Force's larger, more complex drones are flown only by fully-trained pilots. The Army allows its Raven to be operated by enlisted men who have had a modicum of training. PlayStation-adept grunts have proved to be excellent drone operators—one major told the Army News Service that one top Raven operator is normally a cook.

Bonus Explainer: Where are drone pilots, anyway? Raven operators must be in the field since they have to maintain line of sight with their drones. Pilots of the satellite-ready Global Hawks and Predators can be half a world away from their targets. The Global Hawk program is run out of Beale Air Force Base in California. The Air Force's Predator missions in Iraq and Afghanistan are controlled by pilots sitting in trailers at Nellis Air Force Base just outside Las Vegas. Even though they're not in the combat zone, Predator and Global Hawk pilots still wear full flight suits.
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Old 02-28-2008, 02:01 PM   #19
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Robophobia - James Zabiela
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Old 02-28-2008, 02:10 PM   #20
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viz.
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Robocop.. truly the most important film of the 20th century.
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Old 02-28-2008, 03:26 PM   #21
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Old 02-28-2008, 03:35 PM   #22
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interesting how terrorists getting their hands on them is "OMG" but it's A-OK for the americans to have them out there.

Military leaders "are quite clear that they want autonomous robots as soon as possible, because they are more cost-effective and give a risk-free war," he said.

the killbot 9000 just took out a school and none of us have even a scratch! woo hoo!!
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Old 02-28-2008, 03:40 PM   #23
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as mentioned above, this is how skynet started, and the basis for the terminator movies was developed... in t2 the black scientist describes how we went too autonomous, and eventually it all came back to bite us in the ass!
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Old 02-28-2008, 04:13 PM   #24
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Sarah Connor's quote in Terminator 2 was, "Skynet fights back". I'm telling ya, Skynet is coming...
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Old 02-28-2008, 04:34 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by praktik
Increasingly autonomous, gun-totting robots developed for warfare could easily fall into the hands of terrorists.... Captured robots would not be difficult to reverse engineer...
Yes of course. I for one have no doubt that these guys here could easily "reverse engineer" one of them smart robot warriors:



P.S. Dear AFP: Toting. Not totting.
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