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Military Robots Expected To Outnumber Troops By 2023

samzenpus posted about 10 months ago | from the why-did-you-program-me-to-feel-pain? dept.

The Military 177

Lucas123 writes "Autonomous robots programmed to scan city streets with thermal imaging and robotic equipment carriers created to aid in transporting ammunition and other supplies will likely outnumber U.S. troops in 10 years, according to robotic researchers and U.S. military officials. 5D Robotics, Northrop Grumman Corp., QinetiQ, HDT Robotics and other companies demonstrated a wide array of autonomous robots during a display at Ft. Benning in Georgia last month. The companies are already gaining traction in the military. For example, British military forces, use QinetiQ's 10-pound Dragon Runner robot, which can be carried in a backpack and then tossed into a building or a cave to capture and relay surveillance video. 'Robots allow [soldiers] to be more lethal and engaged in their surroundings,' said Lt. Col. Willie Smith, chief of Unmanned Ground Vehicles at Fort Benning, Ga. 'I think there's more work to be done but I'm expecting we'll get there.'"

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Skynet (2)

FlyHelicopters (1540845) | about 10 months ago | (#45430455)

I, for one, welcome our new Skynet overlord...

Re:Skynet (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45430493)

Macaca or whatever his name is.

Re:Skynet (2)

dmbasso (1052166) | about 9 months ago | (#45431237)

I wouldn't be so worried if the mind behind the controls were a completely autonomous AI... actions against innocent people would probably be caused by some pattern matching glitch or whatever.

But with humans on command, the probability of it being used with malicious intent is much higher. You frogs are getting worried about the water temperature, with lots of local police forces getting militarized and stuff... get ready for when these babies start to get deployed locally, to "defend you against the terrorists."

Re:Skynet (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45431319)

I wouldn't be so worried if the mind behind the controls were a completely autonomous AI... actions against innocent people would probably be caused by some pattern matching glitch or whatever.

How else do you think it could be used?

There aren't that many scenarios:
1) They are used to occupy a nation that don't have the forces to fight back.
2) They are used against another nation with a robotic army. Once the robotic armies ave fought it out you are back to step one since the humans on one side would have to fight the robots that are left on the other.
3) They are used to police a local population.

No matter how I look at it innocent people will get the short end of the stick.

Re:Skynet (1)

dmbasso (1052166) | about 9 months ago | (#45431355)

I agree, it is immoral no matter what use. We should invest in technology to *avoid* wars, not to fight them better. Too bad the greedy people behind the military industrial complex are already making too much money to realize that there is money to be made in the peaceful way of doing things as well.

Re: Skynet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45431729)

We are. Those things are known as "espionage" and "surveillance" but everyone gets their panties in a bunch over them, too.

Re:Skynet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45431929)

I think we need WWIII now. The hour is later than I thought. Nobody wants the UN to get control and force their tyrannical new world order on us, yet noone wants fragmented nations with robot armies either

i.e. it's fight night, may the best country win, and start again anew.. on Mars if necessary. It's that time guys..

Re:Skynet (3, Interesting)

amiga3D (567632) | about 9 months ago | (#45432097)

It's very easy to avoid war. Simplicity itself. Don't fight. When someone comes and says we want to take everything you have and enslave you then just say "okay." No problem. It doesn't get any easier than that. Personally I believe there are a lot of things worse than war. Worse even than dying.

Re:Skynet (1)

MrBigInThePants (624986) | about 9 months ago | (#45431497)

Jokes aside that scenario is almost exactly what this is.

The only difference is that behind the drone there will be a psychopathic, killer human being instead of a rogue AI.

I for one find that scenario far more scary than the terminator one.

They say it is better the devil you know, but I think they are wrong. I have 10,000 years of recorded human history to back me up on that....

We don't have one robot soldier yet. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45430475)

So far, we're pretty much using them as cameras. It's a bit of a jump to say they will start replacing soldiers.

catcha: Replacer
they must plan these things

Re:We don't have one robot soldier yet. (3, Insightful)

FlyHelicopters (1540845) | about 10 months ago | (#45430599)

No, no it really isn't...

http://www.strangehorizons.com/2008/20081110/crispin-a.shtml [strangehorizons.com]

They aren't ready for prime time, but the day is coming.

Or have you never heard of a Predator Drone firing a Hellfire missile?

Wait, there's more:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uOuH_X3lFMU [youtube.com]

And

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uOuH_X3lFMU [youtube.com]

Yea, they look silly today, but then so did the first tanks and airplanes in 1914.

It won't happen in 5 years, but it will happen within 50 years. Give or take...

Re:We don't have one robot soldier yet. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45430791)

The top two are RC cars, not robots. The bottom one is absurd and expensive. 50 years is a ridiculous estimation.
Not using RC crap is silly. It allows us to look/act around corners. But these aren't robots.

At least in the first few generations, real robots will demand we designate areas free-fire zones, with women, children, and even great apes considered targets, because the smarts won't be there to identify threats, just bipeds. They'll just drive from a gps point to another, shooting all bipeds in between. Such behavior clearly violates the rules for war (which while an oxymoron still exist) and would be a crime.

But making free-fire autonomous bot only requires a cell-phone, a beefy RC car chassis, a gun, a solenoid and some glue. It will be so much cheaper than paying someone to operate an RC device that poor nations will be doing it damn the rules/consequences.

Get ready. We're talking WAY less than 10 years, here.

Re:We don't have one robot soldier yet. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45431259)

50 years is a ridiculous estimation.

He said "within 50 years." Ever heard of upper bound?

Re:We don't have one robot soldier yet. (1)

dwater (72834) | about 9 months ago | (#45431167)

Aren't those two youtube URLs exactly the same?

Re:We don't have one robot soldier yet. (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 9 months ago | (#45430867)

So far, we're pretty much using them as cameras. It's a bit of a jump to say they will start replacing soldiers.

catcha: Replacer they must plan these things

How sophisticated does a guidance system have to be before it qualifies as a (rather suicidal) robotic soldier?

While there seems to be a bit of a taboo about handing a robot a gun and telling it 'yeah, just frag anything that looks particularly infrared in that direction', heat-seeking missiles, with no human terminal guidance, have been available for years.

We don't have anything that makes broader strategic decisions; but if you count robots attached to their munitions, we've been letting robots make kill decisions, within a confined search space, autonomously for some time. They just don't get to come back afterward.

Re:We don't have one robot soldier yet. (1)

cascadingstylesheet (140919) | about 9 months ago | (#45431393)

And torpedoes ... good point.

Re:We don't have one robot soldier yet. (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 9 months ago | (#45431465)

And, come to think of it, CIWS systems. Those are only slightly autonomous (mounted on a turret, limited field of fire, only fully computer controlled when set to that mode, which is something that people generally avoid unless necessary because their IFF isn't so hot...); but when the switch is flipped, that's one or more autocannons raining computer-controlled death as the mood strikes them. And those robots don't die on impact, like warhead guidance systems do. Armored vehicle active-intercept systems might count as well, if anybody actually has one working right now, not sure where in development those are.

Re:We don't have one robot soldier yet. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45431241)

We are a long way from truly autonomous robots, but how hard is it to create the walking/rolling version of flying drones? Battery technology may be the limiting factor.

Re:We don't have one robot soldier yet. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45431731)

We haven't been using them just as cameras, not for a long time. What do you think a cruise missile is?

I see where this is heading... (1)

Manuel DeBug (3432817) | about 10 months ago | (#45430497)

Henry Slesar. Victory Parade.

What was the point of waging wars again? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45430505)

Oh, that's right. In Capitalist America, the point is to kill furrin civilians with expensive machinery paid for with tax dollars.

You know what, go tax those machines and leave the people alone.

Re:What was the point of waging wars again? (1)

FlyHelicopters (1540845) | about 10 months ago | (#45430665)

The point?

To try and force other people to live the way you do.

Either that, or petty power and control by people who have nothing else better to do.

Personally? I think we should just hire a dozen beautiful girls for each world leader to just keep them busy in their palace and leave the people the heck alone.

It would be far, far cheaper than war.

Re:What was the point of waging wars again? (1)

philip.paradis (2580427) | about 10 months ago | (#45430699)

If you think each world leader, regardless of relationship status, doesn't already have ready access to a dozen beautiful girls (or boys), you're significantly more naive than I assumed.

Re:What was the point of waging wars again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45430711)

Yes, yes, of course. Even so, I now want to be a world leader when I grow up.

Re:What was the point of waging wars again? (1)

dwater (72834) | about 9 months ago | (#45431189)

Indeed, but you didn't read what he wrote (carefully enough)....he said 'hire' and 'just to keep them busy'. That's obviously different to 'having ready access to'.

Of course, it might well be true that some leaders can't be kept busy in such a way, which I suppose might have been your point.

Re:What was the point of waging wars again? (1)

philip.paradis (2580427) | about 9 months ago | (#45431307)

The second sentence of your reply was indeed my point, and therein lies an apt description of the single-mindedness exhibited by some leaders of nations. Sometimes that tendency leads to tragedy.

Re:What was the point of waging wars again? (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 9 months ago | (#45431687)

A dozen won't help as long as muslim martyrs are promised 75 virgins.

Re:What was the point of waging wars again? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45431321)

Personally, I hope the US is bankrupt and broken down into a bunch of small, powerless nation-states before robot-warriors ever get developed. The world just can't afford the US any more.

Is this really a _good_ idea? (4, Insightful)

beh (4759) | about 10 months ago | (#45430515)

This is not to say that it'll be hard to stop the proliferation of military robots, but - is this really a good idea?

Sure, us Westerners, we can say how good a thing this may be - on the other hand, Gaddafi had some problems after a while with his troops seeing the misery they were spreading. To some extent, the same is true for Assad's Syria..

Can you picture what would happen, if rulers like those got their hands on military robots that will just unquestioningly mow down their own people, if the people don't like their "esteemed" ruler any more?

Or - picture them in the hands of North Korea...

Once they get deployed in one nation, no matter how well "behaved" that one nation will be, they will appear in other places - under less enlightened "leadership".

Re:Is this really a _good_ idea? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45430579)

As long as the 'Muricans get their bread and circuses, who gives a fuck? Besides, the Overseas is just one big warzone anyway, in The World According To 'Muricans.

Re:Is this really a _good_ idea? (4, Insightful)

FlyHelicopters (1540845) | about 10 months ago | (#45430615)

This is not to say that it'll be hard to stop the proliferation of military robots, but - is this really a good idea?

No, it isn't... You aren't thinking big enough. What happens when the robots decide they don't want to fight?

Yea, all silly sci-fi crap, right? That could never happen, right?

67 years separated the Wright Brother's first airplane flight that lasted 12 seconds and went 120 feet from Neil Armstrong landing on the moon.

If you had run around in 1904 (the year after the first flight) yelling that man would walk on the moon within a lifetime, you would have been locked up as a crazy person.

Well lock me up then, because giving guns to robots is about the stupidest thing we could *ever* do.

Re:Is this really a _good_ idea? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45430687)

As long as the robots gun down garbage like you, I'm fine with giving them guns and not having any control over their actions.

Re:Is this really a _good_ idea? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45431023)

... You sound much worse than him.
*sends robots at him*

Re:Is this really a _good_ idea? (2)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 10 months ago | (#45430689)

No, it isn't... You aren't thinking big enough. What happens when the robots decide they don't want to fight?

We can worry about that when we have robots that can make decisions. We're pretty far from that right now, so I dont think we have to worry about it.

Re:Is this really a _good_ idea? (2)

FlyHelicopters (1540845) | about 9 months ago | (#45430817)

Define: "Pretty far"

Or did you skip the rest of my post? :)

Sooner or later, machines will figure out how to program themselves. Call it self-awareness or whatever you want, but as soon as a computer can alter its own programming, it can decide to refuse to fight, or perhaps turn against its creator.

Does it really matter if that time is 20 years from now or 40 years? Or 60 years?

Do we really want to give them all weapons?

Re:Is this really a _good_ idea? (4, Interesting)

RsG (809189) | about 9 months ago | (#45431085)

It actually wouldn't be that difficult to avoid what you describe as "silly sci-fi crap" scenarios. The key concept is autonomy.

Meatbag infantry aren't that autonomous to begin with. They need their supply lines; an army marches on its stomach. And they need orders. For every squad of grunts shooting/getting shot at there's a legion of grunts keeping them in ammo, food, water and fuel, bare minimum, and and whole line of dummies (excuse me, officers) telling them where to go and what to do. Interrupt either and they stop being effective in a hurry.

Despite these limits infantry are still the MOST autonomous branch of the military. Tanks need entire shops for of full time specialists, aircraft spend more time getting fixed than getting flown, and ships go through fuel by the tanker.

A super advanced drone with onboard guidance still needs fuel, and if it wants to kill anyone, ammo. And it'll probably need a direct order, possibly with an access code, to unlock its weapons, seeing as ROE are already that restrictive for human soldiers.

And the kinds of traits your talking about in an advanced computer - self-determination, intellectual autonomy, freedom - are the polar OPPOSITE of what the military wants in a drone. If Cyberdyne made a pitch to the Pentagon that started with "Our new T800 Killbots are able to learn, think and adapt", they wouldn't make it halfway through the first PowerPoint slide before getting politely asked to leave. Top brass don't even want regular grunts doing any of those things.

Re:Is this really a _good_ idea? (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 9 months ago | (#45431211)

The one exception (though it would take considerable...pressure... for such a concept to make it to anywhere but the bottom shelf of DARPA's toy chest, much less mass-deployment) might be area denial mechanisms. With presently available technology, the only area denial strategies we can pull off are being cheap, quiet, and dangerously persistent (land mines, slow-evaporating chemical agents), with some limited 'autonomy' if you count human manipulation of organisms (spore-forming bacteria, say, like anthrax, can persist for years or decades in soil; but also reproduce in denser populations.)

Area denial gear has a very, very, nasty reputation, and you'd need technology on the verge of being biology-by-other-means to pull it off with robots; but I suspect that somebody would buy a few batches of air-droppable hunter/killer bots that would sneak around wreaking havoc until a suitably cryptographically signed 'stand-down' order were broadcast, if anybody had the ability to sell such a thing.

As said, such a thing would be crazy difficult to pull off, and actually using them would make you deeply unpopular; but they'd sell.

Re:Is this really a _good_ idea? (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 9 months ago | (#45431769)

Couldn't you just put the shutdown-chip in land mines? There would still be a lot of legal issues, but the technology shouldn't be too hard.

Re:Is this really a _good_ idea? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45432043)

You could, and there are already area-denial submunitions which (are supposed to) explode after a preset time, but the problem is that landmines are mostly used in shitty never-ending civil wars because they're very cheap and quite effective. Sophisticated new landmines would be expensive compared to rusty old eastern bloc ones, thereby not offering nearly as attractive of an ROI, and would be harder to obtain as most western countries have banned them.

Re:Is this really a _good_ idea? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 9 months ago | (#45432111)

We already have robotic area denial. It's called sentry guns. Of course, we also have anti-sniper robots. Hooray arms race.

Re:Is this really a _good_ idea? (1)

FlyHelicopters (1540845) | about 9 months ago | (#45431221)

Ahh, but you keep thinking that future tanks will be repaired by humans.

If we develop tanks that don't require humans, why do you think the repair shop would be otherwise?

Orders, access codes, ROE, are all nice, until the computer can just override those.

Can't happen you say? Oh sure, no worries then, by all means, go for it. What could ever go wrong?

The really sad part is that regardless if we (as in the US) develop such things, that places no such restrictions on anyone else. It only takes once.

Sure, the Terminator is fiction, but the principle is there. If we can imagine it, then we can do it, it is just a matter of time.

If a Terminator can self-repair, runs on an internal nuclear power source, and you have a million of them... you have a problem... A one-off example isn't an issue, it is when you mass produce them for war that you run into concerns.

Lots of things were sci-fi once, a simple example is the communicator from the original Star Trek. Looked pretty far out there in 1966, today we all have them, they are called cell phones. There are a hundred other examples.

Re:Is this really a _good_ idea? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45431471)

Troll much?

Meatbag infantry aren't that autonomous to begin with. They need their supply lines; an army marches on its stomach. And they need orders. For every squad of grunts shooting/getting shot at there's a legion of grunts keeping them in ammo, food, water and fuel, bare minimum, and and whole line of dummies (excuse me, officers) telling them where to go and what to do. Interrupt either and they stop being effective in a hurry.

Actually you can remove ALL the officers and several of the Sergeants -- troops will still prosecute the mission. (U.S. troops, at least).

Despite these limits infantry are still the MOST autonomous branch of the military.

Infantry isn't a "branch of the military", nor are "Pilots" or "Medics".

If Cyberdyne made a pitch to the Pentagon that started with "Our new T800 Killbots are able to learn, think and adapt", they wouldn't make it halfway through the first PowerPoint slide before getting politely asked to leave. Top brass don't even want regular grunts doing any of those things.

Yes, yes they do. The new breed of officers (since around 1990) want troops who can & do think, understand the commander's intent, and accomplish missions while staying within engagement rules.
Someone needs to put down the X-box.

Re:Is this really a _good_ idea? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45431127)

Saying "sooner or later, machines will figure out how to program themselves" is kind of like saying "sooner or later airplanes will figure out how to fly to the moon", if we are sticking to your Wright brothers analogy.

Man built a flying machine, and man flew to the moon. Perhaps man will program some damned good AI, but that does not absolutely lead to every nerds wet dream singularity (mine included).

Re:Is this really a _good_ idea? (1)

FlyHelicopters (1540845) | about 9 months ago | (#45431205)

Perhaps, perhaps not...

But to imply that it isn't likely to happen "ever" is rather naive.

History has a funny way of proving all the "never" people wrong.

Re:Is this really a _good_ idea? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45431677)

It doesn't really matter if we give them weapons, because we already have. We have computer controlled cars, (non-military) aircraft, power stations, factories etc. All of these would be equally (or more) effective weapons in the hands of a rogue ai or hacker.

If the robots rise up against it will be the now ubiquotous computing devices in every day items that do the damage not the few robots with guns.

Re:Is this really a _good_ idea? (1)

Gravis Zero (934156) | about 9 months ago | (#45431447)

This is not to say that it'll be hard to stop the proliferation of military robots, but - is this really a good idea?

No, it isn't... You aren't thinking big enough. What happens when the robots decide they don't want to fight?

debug it. no seriously, if software/hardware doesn't behave in the expected manner, you figure out why and then you change it to do what you want. if you consider this to be a violation of the AI's rights then that changes the entire question.

Re:Is this really a _good_ idea? (1)

FlyHelicopters (1540845) | about 9 months ago | (#45431545)

debug it. no seriously, if software/hardware doesn't behave in the expected manner, you figure out why and then you change it to do what you want.

And what happens when the AI says "no" to that?

Re:Is this really a _good_ idea? (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 9 months ago | (#45431775)

First rule of AI design: Always include a kill-code.

Re:Is this really a _good_ idea? (1)

FlyHelicopters (1540845) | about 9 months ago | (#45431849)

I agree, but the minute we start talking about computers that can reprogram themselves (which is what an AI really is), then what use is a kill-code when it can remove it?

Re:Is this really a _good_ idea? (1)

Gravis Zero (934156) | about 9 months ago | (#45432091)

debug it. no seriously, if software/hardware doesn't behave in the expected manner, you figure out why and then you change it to do what you want.

And what happens when the AI says "no" to that?

all military bots have a remote kill switch.that is independent of software because bad programming can lead to really bad circumstances (which has happened).
besides, do you really think we would program in a sense or morality, ethics or desire into a military robot? it will have directives and objectives to follow and without motivation, the robot has no reason to disobey them. just like humans, we dont want soldiers that think or act on their own agenda. if any robot is going to turn on us by it's own accord, it wont be a military robot.

you can invent all the scenarios you want but the truth is that we have dealt with this issue before in humans but it will be worse for robots because their is no consideration for their "life".

it an interesting situation to consider but chances are we're going to wipe ourselves out before that becomes an issue.

Re:Is this really a _good_ idea? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45431709)

If you had run around in 2013 yelling that man would walk on the moon within a lifetime, you would have been locked up as a crazy person.

Re:Is this really a _good_ idea? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45430645)

Please. The issue is not the mowing down their own people. You're missing the soft approach.

The soft approach is to prevent the unwanted from having a good job.

These robots will just fill in the surveillance that the NSA can't get from the Internet or phone. Robots will be able to watch where individuals go and eavesdrop on conversations. This can even be done from a distance by bouncing a laser beam off a window near where the conversation is being held.

It's an alternative to CCTV. The idea is to store a lot of info that big employers will one day be able to consult.

No job, no activist.

Re:Is this really a _good_ idea? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45430731)

The robots will also do surveillance of protests, to record who was taking part. Facial recognition will then feed into the NSA's database.

If an activist already has a good job, the NSA could attack that activist by searching stored data for possible compromising info (e.g. which protests the activist took part in) then *leak* this info to the activist's employer.

So the activist with a reasonable income and promotion potential becomes stalled, demoted, and ultimately a McActivist with a McSalary.

That's a nice soft way of using stored data. It's not necessarily about busting down doors.

Re:Is this really a _good_ idea? (1)

bazorg (911295) | about 10 months ago | (#45430741)

All those are relevant considerations that nobody seems to have when producing and selling more and better weapons. There's nothing you said that would be wrong in the context of rifles, cannons or fighter aircraft.

Re:Is this really a _good_ idea? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45430787)

except his entire premise is that to date the decision to fire a weapon is still in the mind of the soldier holding or controlling it, who may decide an order is not bearable to follow, whereas in the case of autonomous robots there is no such potential.

You know, the kind of statement that actually doesn't apply to any of the things you just said.

Re:Is this really a _good_ idea? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45430847)

All those are relevant considerations that nobody seems to have when producing and selling more and better weapons. There's nothing you said that would be wrong in the context of rifles, cannons or fighter aircraft.

In my opinion everyone should have their own fighter-jet. If not, who will keep the governments in control...

Re:Is this really a _good_ idea? (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 9 months ago | (#45430933)

It is true that robots will have even fewer scruples than riot cops. On the plus side, what machines lack in virtue, they also lack in vice. Unless so instructed, I'd expect minimal recreational killing of civilians, raping, looting, or other eminently human behavior that a machine wouldn't really be interested in. They would also have the advantage (or disadvantage, if you prefer to hide behind 'fog of war' inevitability arguments) of obeying instructions about risk aversion vs. collateral damage avoidance.

All sensors, human or machine, are imperfect, and will generate false negatives and false positives; but, if a human gets nervous enough, or loses a few squadmates, or similar, it will be very difficult indeed to keep is aversion to false negatives from overriding any concern about false positives. Robots, given the present state of machine vision, aren't as accurate as humans; but they know neither fear, nor loss, nor hate, and will obediently accept any level of risk aversion: from 'return fire only, and only against hostiles unaccompanied by neutral or unknown parties, self preservation is secondary.' to 'If it moves, kill it until it stops.'

The unpleasant truth is that, the occasional moral hero aside, getting usefully high levels of brutality out of humans just isn't wildly difficult, and we've been refining our technique since the dawn of recorded history. The major advantage that robots do bring to the field is that, should the situation start to turn against you, they aren't going to revolt like unpaid and underfed soldiers tend to, they'll just break down from lack of maintenance, rather than marching on your palace and delivering your head to the angry mob outside.

Re:Is this really a _good_ idea? (1)

dwater (72834) | about 9 months ago | (#45431235)

I wonder if you have a limited vision of what constitutes a robot. Why must it be that a robot cannot have desires, addictions, or any of the other 'eminently human behaviours'?

I suspect that such 'errant' behaviour is not so far off. We have this idea that our brains are so complicated, but I wonder if that's really true, and instead our brains are relatively simple but work in a different way so that it just seems complicated.

Re:Is this really a _good_ idea? (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 9 months ago | (#45431309)

I don't doubt that a robot could be made to exhibit such desires (unless you throw your lot in with the Cartesian dualists, anything a human can do a sufficiently complex robot could do); but I do doubt that anyone with purely pragmatic uses for robots (as opposed to AI researchers trying to pass Turing tests), would want such 'features'.

People consider the IT department enough of a drain as it is, just imagine what a mess it would be if you had to add a bunch of computational psychologists and computer systems therapists to the mix...

Re:Is this really a _good_ idea? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45430993)

Once they get deployed in one nation, no matter how well "behaved" that one nation will be, they will appear in other places - under less enlightened "leadership".

Especially if the first nation is capitalist. Guns were sold to native americans for short-term profit, making the later fights harder.

Drones and military robots will be sold too, in the same manner. And re-sold. And end up on the 'other side' sometimes.

Can't put the genie back in the bottle ... (1)

drnb (2434720) | about 9 months ago | (#45431099)

Or - picture them in the hands of North Korea... Once they get deployed in one nation, no matter how well "behaved" that one nation will be, they will appear in other places - under less enlightened "leadership".

No. Once they are *possible* they will be deployed in nearly all nations, enlightened or not. Its not a western thing, its a universal thing. Its not like North Korea or nearly any other nation would pass on a non-WMD technology merely because the US or the west passed on it. Soon after cars were invented people mounted guns on them, soon after airplanes were invented people mounted guns on them, soon after drones were invented people mounted guns on them, ...

When robots with fully autonomous land navigation are practical, people will mount guns on them. The only question is whether fire control will also be fully autonomous or remotely controlled, as it is today with drones.

Re:Is this really a _good_ idea? (1)

m00sh (2538182) | about 9 months ago | (#45431107)

This is not to say that it'll be hard to stop the proliferation of military robots, but - is this really a good idea?

Sure, us Westerners, we can say how good a thing this may be - on the other hand, Gaddafi had some problems after a while with his troops seeing the misery they were spreading. To some extent, the same is true for Assad's Syria..

Can you picture what would happen, if rulers like those got their hands on military robots that will just unquestioningly mow down their own people, if the people don't like their "esteemed" ruler any more?

Or - picture them in the hands of North Korea...

Once they get deployed in one nation, no matter how well "behaved" that one nation will be, they will appear in other places - under less enlightened "leadership".

Why do people even try to predict the future of military strategies and technology? When we went to the gulf war, we had a vastly different set of technology and strategy than when we left. Afghanistan is so much about drones now but we didn't even use drones when the war in Afghanistan started.

The exact opposite of what you predict could happen. Robots in the hands of civilians could render military actions ineffective because civilians will always be able to deploy more and gain understanding of movements of small groups of men. So, civilians would have more knowledge and information and avoid military offenses. China could manufacture controllers and parts for super cheap and so people could put together batteries, cameras, controllers, communications for civilian robots very easily.

My point is anything could happen. Unless you are from the future, this kind of talk is bogus. If you read 10 year old slashdot articles, you will see almost painful amount of bad predictions.

Re:Is this really a _good_ idea? (1)

Lennie (16154) | about 9 months ago | (#45431923)

You know, I'm not even all that worried about these, at least you can see them coming.

The prediction is nanobots will be a lot cheaper and more effective, they can drift on the wind like sand and break down molecules.

Re:Is this really a _good_ idea? (1)

FilmedInNoir (1392323) | about 9 months ago | (#45431963)

This is not to say that it'll be hard to stop the proliferation of military robots, but - is this really a good idea?

Sure, us Westerners, we can say how good a thing this may be - on the other hand, Gaddafi had some problems after a while with his troops seeing the misery they were spreading. To some extent, the same is true for Assad's Syria..

Can you picture what would happen, if rulers like those got their hands on military robots that will just unquestioningly mow down their own people, if the people don't like their "esteemed" ruler any more?

Or - picture them in the hands of North Korea...

Once they get deployed in one nation, no matter how well "behaved" that one nation will be, they will appear in other places - under less enlightened "leadership".

^^^^^^^
This is the smartest, most insightful thing I've read all week. It will be my go to now for debates about militarized robots.

Re:Is this really a _good_ idea? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45431965)

Only a crappy foreign policy military strategist wouldn't use robot soldiers with the ability to wall hack and head shot while doing a triple backslap.

Wee need WWIII now, before this gets out of hand.

20 Minutes Into The Future (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45430525)

Killbots will protect Our Freedoms!

Tomorrow's war (2)

meteormarc (1715840) | about 10 months ago | (#45430571)

Robots will be excellent in fighting the human bodies of today's terrorists. But how will we defend ourselves against robot warriors of terrorist organizations? The old story: we arm ourselves for todays war and are blind for the future. Dutch politics has been discussing the Joint Strike Fighter for more than 10 years. They end up replacing 60+ F16 jets for a mere 34 JSF jets costing billions of dollars and will not see their limitations.

Re:Tomorrow's war (1)

FlyHelicopters (1540845) | about 10 months ago | (#45430649)

Don't feel bad, our own government is just as stupid and has learned nothing...

We built about 120 F-22 Raptor fighter planes. Indeed, an amazing plane for fighting the USSR, and even future threats.

But 120 of them isn't enough. Over 20 years, we'll lose a few to operational accidents, and if we actually went to war, we couldn't put them enough different places to matter.

The Germans during WWII learned the hard way what happens when you have a superior weapons platform to your enemy, but your enemy outnumbers you 25 to 1.

The Panther Mark V tank and the Tiger I Mark 6 tank were amazing... By far they outgunned the American M-4 tank, it wasn't even close.

Great, but at any one time they might have deployed a hundred or so of those tanks vs 2,000 or more M-4 tanks. Against a single Tiger I tank, it often took 10 or more M-4 tanks to knock it out, losing several in the process. But it couldn't shoot them all at the same time, they would race around the back and shoot out the tracks, disable the engine, then troops could close in and hit it with Bazooka attacks at close range.

Even our vaunted M1-A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank doesn't do very well once disabled, close range attacks from handheld rocket propelled grenades can knock it out.

Thankfully we have thousands and thousands of M1 tanks, if we ever go to war with anyone like China, we'll need every last one of them.

120 F-22 Raptors? Nice, but it just isn't enough...

Re:Tomorrow's war (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45430679)

Terrorists won't be able to afford robots, and terrorism will become economically unfeasible. Tomorrow's war will be rich people using robots to kill uppity poor people before they can become terrorists.

Re:Tomorrow's war (1)

canadiannomad (1745008) | about 9 months ago | (#45431245)

Terrorists won't be able to afford robots, and terrorism will become economically unfeasible. Tomorrow's war will be rich people using robots to kill uppity poor people before they can become rich.

FTFY

The day after tomorrow (1)

DrYak (748999) | about 9 months ago | (#45431681)

Tomorrow's war will be rich people using robots to kill uppity poor people before they can become terrorists.

And the day after tomorrow will be grass-root guerilla resistance learning how to produce cheap alternatives. In a cave! With a box of scraps!

Video games ! (1)

DrYak (748999) | about 9 months ago | (#45431675)

But how will we defend ourselves against robot warriors of terrorist organizations?

By that point, settling wars will more or less be a small group of meatbag generals fighting each other on a glorified video game, were the only difference between current games ("Command and Conquer", "World of Warcraft", "Street fighter", etc.) and these, is that a lot more very expensive hardware gets blown in they.

Still, the winner will probably the last to run out of quarter to continue the game, except the "amount of quarters" range in national debt sizes (see war by attrition).

The Killbots - by Zap Brannigan (1)

AlienSexist (686923) | about 10 months ago | (#45430595)

Poor quality clip [youtube.com]

"The Killbots? A trifle! It was simply a matter of outsmarting them. You see Killbots have a preset kill limit. Knowing their weakness, I sent wave after wave of my own men at them until they reached their limit and shut down. Kiff, show them the medal I won."

The future reads Simpson's scripts (1)

rsborg (111459) | about 10 months ago | (#45430623)

apparently, from a Simpsons [wikipedia.org] episode in 1997:

"The wars of the future will not be fought on the battlefield or at sea. They will be fought in space, or possibly on top of a very tall mountain. In either case, most of the actual fighting will be done by small robots. And as you go forth today remember always your duty is clear: To build and maintain those robots."[

Simpsons is prophetic once again.

Soon, China will be manufacturing them (2)

Animats (122034) | about 10 months ago | (#45430627)

The scary thought is Chinese industry manufacturing a few billion of them. Not big humanoids like the Atlas, or walking trucks like Big Dog. More like huge numbers of little quadrotors and insect to mouse sized machines to snoop around.

Re:Soon, China will be manufacturing them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45430719)

The Chinese developed an ultra-low cost version of Big Dog (down to an unlikely US$5000 per unit according to Liveleak). Pics here:
http://news.takungpao.com/military/photo/2013-01/1266022.html

Re:Soon, China will be manufacturing them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45431331)

Video of it pulling a dog-sled in the Himalayas, otherwise it's just an exhibit.

Re:Soon, China will be manufacturing them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45431755)

Yes, and they will make them self replicating... Anyone see where this is going?

Re:Soon, China will be manufacturing them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45431823)

The thought of the US industry manufacturing a few billion of them is scarrier. After all, between the US and China, the US is the one with a long history of invading sovereign states for no pressing reason except profit.

Re:Soon, China will be manufacturing them (1)

Beyond_GoodandEvil (769135) | about 9 months ago | (#45432079)

After all, between the US and China, the US is the one with a long history of invading sovereign states for no pressing reason except profit.
The people of Tibet and Vietnam would be to differ.

"Troops" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45430661)

A troop is a group of soldiers. An individual soldier is not a troop. An individual soldier is called a soldier.

"Trooper" (1)

drnb (2434720) | about 9 months ago | (#45431145)

A troop is a group of soldiers. An individual soldier is not a troop. An individual soldier is called a soldier.

The singular of "troops" is "trooper", not "soldier". Troops are not necessarily soldiers, they may be Marines for example. The word "troops" is often used to be service branch neutral.

Re:"Trooper" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45431861)

Thanks for the reply.

You are right that an individual within a troop is a trooper (but this is not the singular of "troops"; the singular of "troops" is "troop"). You could call soldiers troopers, but it's a little weird to do so because the US military is not actually organized into troops. But you could say a platoon or squad is a troop and call them troopers, no complaint from me.

Regarding this imaginary distinction between soldiers and Marines, that is just foolishness. Anyone in the Marine Corps is a soldier by any half-sane definition of the word "soldier". The Army calls their personnel by normal, traditional terms, like "soldier" and "infantryman". The Marine Corps has this ridiculous tic where they insist that their personnel are "Marines" and "riflemen" but never "soldiers" or "infantry" even though they fill the exact roles those words traditionally define. I guess they do it because they have a chip on their shoulder and want to convince everyone that Marine Corps ground forces are totally different than Army ground forces and they definitely shouldn't be merged into the Army (like Eisenhower tried to do). But the USMC does not get to redefine words of the English language. Marine Corps combat personnel are all soldiers and most of them are infantry.

Let the rObOtWArs BEGIN!!! (1)

SomeoneFromBelgium (3420851) | about 9 months ago | (#45430879)

(keeps his microphone in his outstretched arms while he turns around a few times. Why carry a microphone if you're not going to speak into it??!!)

Or just the USA goes bankrupt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45430949)

...and all military contractors lose their pork.

May be, just may be this is better for the world from an overall perspective. Those military contractors are the worst parasite of humankind.

And before you call me "anti-USA". No, I'm really torn on that. I'd still prefer the USA government to e.g. the Chinese. An the USA military is doing an awesome job in the Philippines. And all that.

But still: as long as those extremely powerful corps. with such deep ties into the decision-making of USA admin have something to gain from wars being waged, we'll have wars. On communism, on terror, on $PLACEHOLDER. Get rid of Lockheed Martin, of Blackwater, of...

Interested in battery (1)

renzhi (2216300) | about 9 months ago | (#45431051)

Ok, are these robots going to run on battery or just some kind of diesel engine? If they are going to run on battery, is the technology available yet, or are we so optimistic that we can solve the issue in 10 years? I'm only interested in the battery technology, this is going to make it or break it. I'm not that optimistic, unless these guys have something in the pocket that we don't know about. Until we solve the battery (or fuel cell, or whatever portable energy pack) problem, we are not going to see much of autonomous robots (save the unmanned drone, or vehicle large enough to carry a big fuel tank).

Re:Interested in battery (1)

Dr Max (1696200) | about 9 months ago | (#45431151)

We will have the battery tech in 10 years. We already have the tech in labs at the moment (multiple options), once they perfect one, then figure out a way to mass produce it, we will easily have >5 times the current energy storage per weight. Which is due to the demand of consumer tech (phones and cars at the moment) and will allow for some even cooler stuff like electric airplanes and helicopters (much less maintaince and much cheeper fuel) and robot butlers (as well as all the killbots america wants).

Reduction of reluctance to war (4, Insightful)

Alain Williams (2972) | about 9 months ago | (#45431265)

Today: a general might want to engage in some madcap but risky adventure but will be restrained because he knows that his ass will get it if too many of his own soliders die. This reluctance preserves life on both sides of the war.

Tomorrow: that general will do it since he knows that his bosses won't weep much over the loss of a few robots and not at all over the many deaths on the other side -- be they soldiers or civilians. The result will be a loosening of moral constraints to kill, not a good thing by my way of thinking.

We saw that a century ago when it did not matter to the generals how many of their own side died, remember the huge numbers who died in the Battle of the Somme [wikipedia.org] and the deaths from drone attaks in Pakistan [wikipedia.org] that few in the West worry about.

Until he sees the bill... (1)

DrYak (748999) | about 9 months ago | (#45431765)

Tomorrow: that general will do it since he knows that his bosses won't weep much over the loss of a few robots

Until the opposing side start to get also a lot of technology and becomes able to down several of the robot.
Then the general will be *really* sorry when he sees the bill and starts having difficulty rebuilding the army.

The one with the cheapest machine and the biggest budget gets the advantage at that point.

Re:Reduction of reluctance to war (1)

Sabriel (134364) | about 9 months ago | (#45432041)

Hmm. To a rough approximation, there are five targets of value in a war: the opposing force, the opposing infrastructure, the opposing commander, the opposing government, and the opposing populace.

When your use of robot workers to make robot factories to build robot armies means you just make more if the enemy shoots them, the enemy is going to pick another target.

What - or rather who - do you think they will pick?

Robots of Foreign Wars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45431277)

How will surviving bots be used postwar? What will R2PTSD2 do with his life then?

Military Robots Expected To Outnumber Troops By... (1)

Ed_1024 (744566) | about 9 months ago | (#45431373)

I can't be the only one who thought: "yes, that's because they've killed most of the human troops".

What chance would a normal soldier stand against a faster, more heavily armoured and armed machine with a much larger sensorium? The only hopes are that humans have retired from the battlefield entirely to leave it to the robots or are having second thoughts about the whole war-thing in the first place...

Re:Military Robots Expected To Outnumber Troops By (1)

jcdr (178250) | about 9 months ago | (#45431907)

Strategically, this mean that it's useless to fight the robots. The only valuable target is the peoples that control the robots. The net effect is that the combat will move from the battlefield to directly the highest rank of the army. Be no naive, the army very well understand this, so if there use robots, this is in situation where the highest rank have no risk to do so. Obviously this schema is designed not for war between two army, but to massacre a civil population.

Blueprint is already in history (1)

paiute (550198) | about 9 months ago | (#45431525)

Primitive airplanes were just going to be used for observation of the other side's ground troops. Opposing pilots used to wave and call good morning to each other. Then some pilots started carrying pistols in case they were forced down in enemy territory. Then some pilot took a shot at an enemy pilot. Pretty soon they were taking pot shots and dropping bricks on each other. Then someone mounted a machine gun on the top wing to try and do real damage to enemy planes. Then some genius figured out how to make the machine gun fire through the propeller. Then engines got powerful enough that the planes could start to carry small bombs to drop on troops as long as the planes were overhead observing anyway. And so on.

This comes back to me when I see things like the iRobot robotic pack mule. It will just be a helper at first, then it will come with armament. As long as it's going to be in a warzone anyway it might as well be packing.

Next Step: Clone Army of the Republic (1)

theMAGE (51991) | about 9 months ago | (#45431613)

Even holy Yoda was tempted, and he should have known better...

"said Lt. Col. Willie Smith" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45431637)

Willie Smith? Really? I think he likes to be called Will Smith or Professor Dingleberry at night.

If they're cheap enough then (1)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | about 9 months ago | (#45431725)

it might remove insurgency as a successful military strategy. I'm guessing that's what the US military is hoping for because it's given them so much trouble over the years. (Since the whole point of insurgency is that insurgents are troops so cheap that an expensive military can't fight them successfully. That would change if US robots are cost the government about the same as a given insurgent.) I guess that would make it more likely the US would get involved in foreign wars. (Since the populous wouldn't care.)

who needs robots (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45431787)

when the CHICOMs have lifted one-child restrictions? no more killing of females in the womb!

In the most cynical scenario... (1)

jcdr (178250) | about 9 months ago | (#45431827)

Will all those robots be enough to fight against the vast numbers of future angry ex-military unemployed there replace ?

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