Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Killer Robots Are Here

Larry D. Moore

Okay, so that's not one of them... yet.

But you get the idea, artificial intelligence, no matter how primitive is  becoming ubiquitous.  From the Roomba to the toaster using fuzzy logic to ensure you get the perfect piece of toast, they are all around us.  Some of them are a lot meaner than the Roomba.


Meet SWORDS, equipable with everything from an M-16 to a 40mm grenade launcher or 66mm FLASH rocket launcher.  3 SWORDS devices were fielded in Iraq, but used in fixed positions and never given authorization to fire.  It is part of the TALON series of robots, one of which was used at ground zero on 9/11.  These devices were never intended to be fully autonomous and require interaction with a human operator.  The brochure for its successor can be found here: MAARS

 Meet the Phalanx


Capable of "autonomously performing its own search, detect, evaluation, track, engage and kill assessment functions" requires no human interaction whatsoever beyond turning it on.  There is a reason for autonomy, and that is that the human is the weak link in the chain for the threat Phalanx was designed to counter, high-speed anti-ship missiles.  You turn it on when there is a threat, if you wait for the actual attack, you're dead already.

The Three Laws of Robotics

Devised by Isaac Asimov in a short story in 1946 they are best summarized as follows:
1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. 

2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. 

3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

The UN

At a UN General Assembly First Committee on Disarmament and International Security side event Monday, mission delegates from Egypt, France, and Switzerland voiced an interest in regulating "killer robots" — completely autonomous weapon systems — in warfare.  They are some of the first international voices backing ideas that the Human Rights Watch and Campaign to Stop Killer Robots have been championing for about a year.  MSN

So, are we headed for the Terminator, or not?

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