Interesting headline and article at The Week:
The belief that humanoid robots are dangerous on the battlefield and need to be slowed before weapons systems become autonomous is at the heart of a debate raging in the robotic engineering community. On one side, there are people who believe that the use of unmanned robots must be stopped before war becomes an automated process.
“Giving machines the power to decide who lives and dies on the battlefield would take technology too far,” Steve Goose, Arms Division director at Human Rights Watch, said in a November 2012 statement announcing the release of a study, “Losing Humanity: The Case Against Killer Robots.”“Human control of robotic warfare is essential to minimizing civilian deaths and injuries.”
They’re seconded by the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, an international coalition of NGOs working to stop robotic warfare
“There are a lot of people very excited about this technology… this is going to be big, big money. But actually there is no transparency, no legal process. The laws of war allow for rights of surrender, for prisoner of war rights, for a human face to take judgments on collateral damage,” Noel Sharkey, an ethicist at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom and one of the main driver of the campaign, said in an interview last spring.
Oh no! Killer Robots..who will be to blame?
Well if anything in NZ is to go by it will be the baby-eating John Key and his cronies in the One World banking conspiracy who are to blame for autonomous robot killings.
Or a bit of sanity will prevail.
However, others are more skeptical. Matthew Waxman, an international and national security law expert at Columbia University, said in an interview that the “Losing Humanity” report overstates the risk.
“I think it’s too sweeping in its conclusions about what future technology will or will not be able to do, and I think it neglects some of the significant costs and risks to preemptively banning all autonomous weapon systems,” he said.
The United States already uses robots to fight. In addition to drones, more than 2,000 robots have been used in the war in Afghanistan.
DARPA is investing millions into developing more robotic technology. This year, it spent $7 million on a program that explores the possibility of uploading a soldier’s brain function into a humanoid robot and $11 million into a program that would allow robots to act autonomously.
One of the primary beneficiaries of these investments is Boston Dynamics. They’ve created the PETMAN humanoid, which DOD says would be used to test suits meant to protect troops. But it can do push ups and kneel down as well.
However, Boston Dynamics and Schaft are not subsidiaries of military contractors. Quite the opposite; Google just purchased the two companies to develop robot technology.
Oh no….Google has moved from “Don’t be evil” to “Own scary robots”. They are a bit creepy…I’m sure Google will make them look nice eventually.
So how far are we from the rise of the machines?
Columbia’s Waxman said, “I don’t think we’re close to seeing widespread use of autonomous weapon systems that targets humans, though we are seeing incremental additions of more and more automated functions in weapon systems that have a human controller,” he said. “In terms of how this incremental evolution takes place, much of it has to do with future advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning, but it’s also about better sensors and other robotic functions.”
Waxman added there is a middle ground between a bad on robots and the rise of the machines.
“It’s important to keep in mind that the choice is not simply between a total ban and lawless proliferation,” he said. “There are other options, including regulating autonomous weapon systems based on existing law of armed conflict principles and rules, which can be adapted to deal with these new technologies.”