×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

U.S. Army Robots Break Asimov's First Law

CmdrTaco posted more than 8 years ago | from the fourth-law-is-don't-look-at-me-i'm-hideous dept.

821

buanzo writes "The US Army is deploying armed robots in Iraq that are capable of breaking Asmov's first law that they should not harm a human. SWORDS (Special Weapons Observation Reconnaissance Detection Systems) robots are equipped with either the M249, machine gun which fires 5.56-millimeter rounds at 750 rounds per minute or the M240, which fires 7.62-millimeter rounds at up to 1,000 per minute. " update this story refers to this article from 2005. But com'on, robots with machine guns! I don't get to think about that most days!

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

821 comments

Not really... (5, Insightful)

jargoone (166102) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923778)

From TFA:

They are still connected by radio to a human operator who verifies that a suitable target is within sight and orders it to fire.

While they are harming a human, it's ultimately a human that makes the decision to fire. And who cares about fictional "laws", anyway?

Re:Not really... (-1, Troll)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923815)

And who cares about fictional "laws", anyway?

It ain't news, it's sensationalist bullshit.

Besides, the average marine has about a high school education, no morals and a low threshold for the sanctity of life. They might as well be robots anyways. :-)

Sorry folks there ain't no draft and it isn't a mystery that the US war machine is a "tad" corrupt. you sign up for the military because you want to profit from the misery of others. That is unless you sign up for the military to do something outside of being a grunt [e.g. doctor, engineer, etc]. Then you're ok.

Tom

Re:Not really... (1)

(A)*(B)!0_- (888552) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923928)

"no morals"
Why do you believe that? Statistically, you can show what level of education the average Marine has and I can even see the argument that fighting in a war leads to putting less of a value on human life, I suppose, but how have you determined that "the average marine" has no morals?

Re:Not really... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14923990)

Conventional morality includes prohibitions against murder, torture etc.

Professional soldiers do whatever they're told by their superiors, give or take - where's the room for morality?

Re:Not really... (3, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923930)

Besides, the average marine has about a high school education, no morals and a low threshold for the sanctity of life. They might as well be robots anyways. :-)

That's a pretty insulting comment to make from somebody that has no fucking clue what he's talking about. Whatever you think about the "War" (I was/am opposed to it) saying that either side has a low threshold for the "sanctity of life" is just plain insulting and rude.

Ever hear of PTSD? Shell-shock? Do you think that Marines/soliders or even the insurgents that they are fighting take life lightly? And what the hell does the level of education have to do with anything? That's just being a snob.

Re:Not really... (-1, Troll)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923956)

First off, the average marine/army recruit is between the age of 17 and 22. Second, that amounts to jack squat in life experience.

Third, the Military preys on the poor and least educated folk under the guise of "military education". E.g. give us 5 years of your life and we might give you a college education. These people are vulnerable in that they come from poor families and/or don't think they have any chances to make it in the real world.

Fourth, it's no secret that the US goals in the middle east are far less than altruistic. You [including other UN nations of which I'm ashamed to say Canada was party to] let the Rwandans get slaughtered, you let blood diamond mining go on, etc, etc, etc, yet it's SOOOOO important to "liberate" Iraq and Iran. Despite the fact you basically brought Iraq to a civil war....

Tom

Re:Not really... (2, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 8 years ago | (#14924015)

First off, the average marine/army recruit is between the age of 17 and 22. Second, that amounts to jack squat in life experience.

And your point is?

Third, the Military preys on the poor and least educated folk under the guise of "military education". E.g. give us 5 years of your life and we might give you a college education. These people are vulnerable in that they come from poor families and/or don't think they have any chances to make it in the real world.

Again, your point?

Fourth, it's no secret that the US goals in the middle east are far less than altruistic. You [including other UN nations of which I'm ashamed to say Canada was party to] let the Rwandans get slaughtered, you let blood diamond mining go on, etc, etc, etc, yet it's SOOOOO important to "liberate" Iraq and Iran. Despite the fact you basically brought Iraq to a civil war....

So your opposed to the war? Big shock there. Again, how the hell is it relevant? I took serious exception to your "low threshold" remark and you haven't done a damn thing to defend it. Have you ever talked to anybody who has been in a war? It doesn't matter which war. Take your pick. WW2, Vietnam, Falklands.... If you think that soldiers/insurgents have a low threshold for the sanctity of life and that they are able to take that life lightly and without being bothered by it for the rest of their lives then you have no idea what the fuck you are talking about.

It's people like you that give the rest of us on the left a bad name.

Re:Not really... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14924042)

saying that either side has a low threshold for the "sanctity of life"

OK, you don't really believe that do you? YOu REALLY think that the Islamic Fundamentalists / Jihad Crew / Suicide Bombers have a respect for the SANCTITY OF LIFE? They don't respect life AT ALL!

Here's why: If they die, they get the mythical gift of 72 virgins in heaven. They honestly believe this! Imagine the corruption of their belief system that they believe that dying while fighting for this WONDERFUL CAUSE will give them a reward better than ANYTHING that they have ever had IN THEIR ENTIRE LIFE.

Sounds a little like Social Security....Yeah, keeping putting in, don't worry, it'll be there when you retire, sure....

Sorry to digress, but back to the main subject: I don't think that they (they being the insurgents) respect life at all to take it so (seemingly) thoughtlessly. I could be wrong, but perception from what the media has given us is that these people are savages that don't respect anything except for dying for their cause.

Feel free to comment, I'd love to hear some THOUGHTFUL comments.

Re:Not really... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14923944)

fuck you.

Re:Not really... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14923969)

Thats not insightful, thats a troll, way to go mods!

Re:Not really... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14923977)

You, my friend, are the quintessential Slashdot poster - mean-spirited, and just so dang bizarre! How do you people even think up the things you do? I've never even thought to conceive that maybe those who go into the military are basically all the same, let alone that their big similarity they share is to "profit from the misery of others". If nothing else, Slashdot is a good way to experience people far, far stranger than I normally would encounter in my life.

Off Topic - dumbass (1)

wantobe (626056) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923986)

This comment is rated insightful? I would have gone with troll, unless there is a "pretty fucking stupid" rating.

Hey, nimrod, the average American Marine is a young adult who cares about his or her country enough to put themselves on the line defending it and its principles. What the fuck have you done in your sorry life that allows you to pass this kind of sanctimonious judgement on them?

Sorry lowlife but it's no secret that people like you are a "tad" worthless. And for those who rated the comment as insightful, you're just as bad.

Rob Miles

Re:Not really... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14924003)

Besides, the average marine has about a high school education, no morals and a low threshold for the sanctity of life. They might as well be robots anyways. :-)

You show your own ignorance with statements like this.

People like you are just as much a part of why this country sucks at times and the saddest part is that you've got no clue. If you don't like what the government is doing, fine, but when you start lashing out against some of the hardest working and most dedicated people that America has to offer without anything resembling a clue, you do none of us any good. It was people like you that did as much harm to soldiers returning from the Vietnam War as the fighting itself did. Don't support their mission? Fine. Speak up, it's your right and obligation to do so... but don't go off insulting the people who would lay their lives on the line for your right to speak and act as you choose (even when it's as foul as your posting here...) when you really don't have a clue what you're talking about.

Re:Not really... (5, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 8 years ago | (#14924013)

Besides, the average marine has about a high school education, no morals and a low threshold for the sanctity of life. They might as well be robots anyways. :-)

Sorry folks there ain't no draft and it isn't a mystery that the US war machine is a "tad" corrupt. you sign up for the military because you want to profit from the misery of others. That is unless you sign up for the military to do something outside of being a grunt [e.g. doctor, engineer, etc]. Then you're ok.


These people you so casually dismiss as "robots" sign up, generally speaking, when they're eighteen or nineteen years old; they believe, almost without exception, that they are doing so to serve their country, to protect the Constitution and the flag and Mom and apple pie. And you know what? At most times throughout our country's history, they've been right.

Just a few years later, if they're unlucky enough to have enlisted at a time like the current one, they're old men, scarred by things no human being should ever have to see. That's what war (any war, including the "good" ones) does to people. That doesn't happen to robots.

I started out as one of those nineteen-year-old grunts; a couple of years later, dimly sensing what was coming down the pike, I cross-trained as a medic, in which capacity I served in Desert Storm. I had no desire whatsoever to "profit from the misery of others" -- I wanted to serve, and I was, relatively speaking, one of the lucky ones. I don't have anyone's death on my conscience. I do have memories of things that will give me nightmares and flashbacks for the rest of my life ... and mine was a very, very short war. What those kids over there are going through now is so much worse I can't quite get my mind around it.

They're not robots. They're your son, your niece, your little brother, caught up in a horrible situation not of their own making. Don't take your anger out on them. Save it for the evil old men who never exposed themselves to that kind of horror, who would never allow their own children to go through it, who casually, thoughtlessly, cheerfully send other people's kids off to hell.

Re:Not really... (1)

I_Strahd (791299) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923840)

Link from the article [technovelgy.com]
Says that these are not autonomous and are controlled by humans. Is this really any different than the Global Hawk [af.mil] ?

Re:Not really... (5, Funny)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923906)

Awww. That's too bad. I was thinking it would be really Kewl if these were powered by Linux!
<SATIRE>
"Lean, mean, Debian killiing machines! They can turn Al Qaida women and children into gooey, red paste by violating Asimov's Robots Rules of Order, and still not violate GPL!"
</SATIRE>
What have we come to?

Re:Not really... (5, Funny)

I_Strahd (791299) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923999)

I heard that they have this really sweet keyboard that they can create macros on to build their characters/robots strength up by fighting lower level mobs automatically. This requires little to no interaction on the soldiers part.

Re:Not really... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14923873)

And who cares about fictional "laws", anyway?

I think it's this point that is the most salient. Asimov's laws are interesting, and make for good "debate over your adult beverage of choice" fodder, but they are just one persons take on a single use case for a particular technology. Those laws might make sense for industrial and domestic helper robots, but wouldn't apply for military (obviously) or law enforcement roles. Certainly a law enforcement robot could be trained to limit the amount of harm it inflicts on a perp to neutralize him, but some amount of harm may be necessary.

Bottom line is that as robots actually do start entering more into our mainstream lives, some "real" thought needs to be given to how to make them as non harming to humans as possible. These laws, while laudible, can't be "programmed" as is, making the task much more complex.

Yeah, Just like Guantanamo Bay (5, Funny)

PIPBoy3000 (619296) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923876)

. . . a place where Asimov's Laws, like the US Constitution or the Geneva conventions, don't really apply.

Re:Not really... (2, Informative)

shoptroll (544006) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923889)

Agreed. They're called a "plot device", outside of Asimov's books they have no meaning whatsoever.

Re:Not really... (0, Redundant)

Gulthek (12570) | more than 8 years ago | (#14924010)

Hell, even in Asimov's books all the stories were about the three laws' inherent shortcomings.

Re:Not really... (1)

PeterSomnium (954672) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923960)

While they are harming a human, it's ultimately a human that makes the decision to fire. And who cares about fictional "laws", anyway?
Well, I don't particulary care about Aasimov's laws, but I'd rather get shot by a human, than by a robot, that's for sure.

Am I the only one... (2, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923781)

...who fears government having sole access to technology that its own citizens would be jailed for?

Yes, I am likely the biggest anti-State promoter on slashdot, so many will take my opinion with a grain of salt. Yet this is one of those cases where history shows that we the People need to be cautious in giving government weapons that we ourselves can not own or use. Tyrant dictators for thousands of years have used the new weapon of the day to keep not just their enemies under their thumbs, but also their own ruled citizens. From the bow to the gun to the airplane to the nuke, those that govern have always had an edge. Sure, most of us wouldn't trust some big corporate CEO in owning a robot that kills, but what protects us from a coup or a tyrant who finally has the ultimate way to control the citizens?

No tinfoil hat today, just an honest opinion (and fear) that these weapons will make us more hated in the rest of the world, as well as offering future dictators a tool to subjugate the citizens. Rather than helping spread democracy, I fear we'll see how slippery that slope gets when very powerful individuals are given even more power.

I'd rather return to the "No Standing Army" policy of individual state militias that can be called up to defend our borders in the event of a real declared war. We'd have more money to spend on our families and our communities (of people we generally agree with) rather than providing the future authoritarians a tool of continuing control over our descendents. All the tyrants we've fought in the past have been mere mosquito bites at the village pool compared to the shark attack we face today in our own backyard waters.

Re:Am I the only one... (4, Insightful)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923837)

dada21,

Are you being serious?

The "government" has had weapons that the "citizens" cannot (easily) gain access to for more than a century. How is this different?

Or is this just a pulpit for you since you caught the article early?

(The "government" will ALWAYS have more sophisticated weaponry, because it is pooling the resources of the citizenry to design, develop, build, and purchase such weaponry. Your discussion is interesting for a philosophical debate; nothing more.)

Re:Am I the only one... (2, Interesting)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923909)

I am being serious. I firmly believe in the right to bear arms -- all arms. I see nothing wrong with arming myself to protect myself from not only thieves and rapists but from anyone who decides they want to restrain my freedoms on my own land. I also believe the idea of a right to bear arms was protected against tyranny -- all tyranny. The Constitution doesn't guarantee the right, I believe it is a right all humans have from birth. The Constitution merely tells government to stay away from our weapons.

For me, this also means that while government can afford greater weapons, it shouldn't prevent us from obtaining them as well. Look at the Framers hatred of big centralized control of the masses and one would believe they, too, would not want a central army more powerful than the militias that army was supposed to be solely composed of.

We the People are idiots if we believe that the power hungry aren't utilizing fear as a way to control the average citizen. Don't pay your taxes? Don't accept the draft? Do something on your own property that hurts no one but is considered a crime? Think first: who has the biggest gun?

Re:Am I the only one... (5, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 8 years ago | (#14924012)

I firmly believe in the right to bear arms -- all arms.

Sorry, have to differ with you there. I don't want a tac nuke in private hands, because I don't believe you're capable of only hitting those who are actually posing a threat to you personally. I also wouldn't let you have land mines, pursuant to the common law principle of prohibiting reckless endangerment.

-jcr

Re:Am I the only one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14923938)

The bigger issue is the removal of access to the weapons we already have through bogus gun control laws and what amounts to the reversal of the second amendment.

Know What You Are Talking About (1)

millahtime (710421) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923908)

...who fears government having sole access to technology that its own citizens would be jailed for?

The autonamous technology is already out there. Look at the DARPA Grand Challenge. And, it's not just big corporations but universities and small organizations. If you are talking about the guns. Well, you may not trust the government with those big guns with the checks and balances. But, who would trust you and others with those guns but without those checks and balances?

So, you talk about future dictators having more tools of torture. Do you think they are not doing great with the tools they have now?

I'd rather return to the "No Standing Army" policy of individual state militias that can be called up to defend our borders in the event of a real declared war.

I kind of like this idea but it is not practical in this world. The US is a big target for many reasons. The top guy always is. Can a militia get up to arms quickly enough? Can they militia men have the training that regular army can have? No to both. It would put us in a loosing situation against our enemies. This is no longer practical.

Re:Know What You Are Talking About (1)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923987)

The autonamous technology is already out there.

I understand this, but it is the combination of various technologies that the citizens CAN'T own that are part of these Terminators.

So, you talk about future dictators having more tools of torture.

Bingo. The first stage of torture is creating fear of pain or death. You can't create this fear without having a way to back it up that the torturing party is more powerful, and no one will come to the aid of the tortured.

I kind of like this idea but it is not practical in this world. The US is a big target for many reasons. The top guy always is.

I don't think we're the top guy by any means anymore. We were the top guy, and loved around the world, when we were a mere trade partner -- when we offered the world the best quality products at the lowest price. I believe in open trade with everyone (even the Cubans, the Iraqis and the Nigerians) and entangling ourselves as a Nation with no one's problems. If an individual wants to support a coup or a rebellion, they should be free to send their money (or spend their time) to help them. I don't like the idea of using our army to help or hinder any people -- that is what directly causes the hatred against us.

Can a militia get up to arms quickly enough? Can they militia men have the training that regular army can have? No to both. It would put us in a loosing situation against our enemies. This is no longer practical.

Enemies that our regular army has created. Enemies that are becoming more powerful as they learn to defend against our regular army.

The militia is works very well in Switzerland -- as does the free trade idea. Switzerland is "liberal" in the classical liberal way ("libertarian"). Even Hitler stayed out of Switzerland -- and the US should be politically isolationist while financially open to trade with anyone who has the money to buy our products.

I believe a militia is the perfect way to protect the citizens: by integrating the army into local economies and commerce, the militia has a love for freedom and a desire to protect their brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters. Today's army does what it is told not out of love but out of requirement. I would happily defend my community against a direct attack -- we lost in Vietnam because we attempted to fight the same style militia. Anyone who would attack the US militias would never be able to conquer a people with a love for freedom and the desire to protect their homes and their communities.

State militias dont work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14923916)

The Romans proved this, when the city state armies (farmers and the like) were out farming, the Roman army was constantly training. Thus Romes enemies fell quickly.

The problem is... (4, Insightful)

everphilski (877346) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923958)

You have to convince all 200+ countries to demilitarize. Simultaneously. You won't be able to.

End of story.

I'd rather return to the "No Standing Army" policy of individual state militias that can be called up to defend our borders in the event of a real declared war.

... because the problem with that is "individual state militias" can't afford ICBM's, helicopters, attack aircraft, missiles, etc. We now have a defenseless America, and the rest of the world is up to speed. The state of war has been beyond the militia for over 150 years now. You have to prepare for the war 20 years from now, not the war at hand.

The beauty of modern warfare is very few people die relative to former wars. We've only lost around 2,000 men and women in Iraq so far and although it is a trajedy (not the war, but the loss) it is far less than wars of the same scale in years prior. Technology makes the difference.

Re:Am I the only one... (2, Interesting)

Sierpinski (266120) | more than 8 years ago | (#14924027)

...who fears government having sole access to technology that its own citizens would be jailed for?

You mean like tanks? Fully-automatic weapons? Explosive devices? Artillery? Jets? Bombers? I don't think any of those can be legally possessed by any normal private citizen (with the possible exception of a collectors/dealers license, which are apparently not so easy to get)

The government owning/using technology that the average person cannot use (re: wiretaps) is commonplace. The only problem is to get through the secrecy/red tape to make sure they are not abusing it. (which also is very subjective, I understand that.)

So... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14923785)

Has anyone called Will Smith yet?

frist psto (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14923793)

of course they do they're supposed to aren't they i mean common they're army robots and what are army robots supposed to do apart from kill things goddamn it they aren't the huggy fluffy type of robots theyre killer robots that kill things

Phalanx... (5, Informative)

JDSalinger (911918) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923795)

I guess it depends what you consider to be a robot? And under what conditions it could kill another human? The Phalanx defense system, currentlly employed on U.S. Warships, would allow itself to shoot down an enemy aircraft if it were attempting to crash into the ship. The Phalanx uses radar to detect incoming missiles and shoot them out of the sky by unleashing an insane amount of bullets in direction of the target. Pictures and info here. [wikipedia.org]
-C

Re:Phalanx... (1)

Linker3000 (626634) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923931)

So, according to the article, both times it fired in 'anger' it managed to shoot down a friendly plane and hit a nearby friendly ship - nice going.

Other examples (none lethal though) (4, Interesting)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923796)

Theres lots of robots designed for this purpose.

Of course, they are just toys and the big deal is this will be rolled out, but heres a couple of things I thought of:

USB Air Darts [gizmodo.com]

Controllable from the computer :D

Automatic sentry gun [hackaday.com]
Uses a built in camera to detect and aim at moving targets.

Its all very half life ish, but plenty of fun.

Fluff Piece (5, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923798)

Don't bother with the Inquirer story. It's practically a verbatim copy of the source story here [technovelgy.com] . The only difference is that the source story adds the following comments:
As I pointed out in the article (and the comments), these devices are not autonomous. For some, this would disqualify them from being true robots. However, the military and the manufacturer both refer to the SWORDS device as a robot, and it certainly fits common usage. The word "robot" comes from the Czech robota (from Capek's play R.U.R.) meaning "forced labor" or "drudgery." This device surely does an unpleasant task usually done by a person. Also, consider that, strictly speaking, an autonomous cruise missile is a self-guided machine, and is therefore a "robot" although most people wouldn't think of it that way.

These are actually robots, but they're not the fully-autonomous solutions that Asimov was suggesting that mankind needed protection from. Thus the "laws" of robotics don't apply here, because it's still a human who's doing the thinking for the machine.

In effect, this is a safe way for ground troops to line up a kill zone, then cause lots 'o bad guys to get torn to shreds. Prior to this, troops needed to use a vehicle-mounted machine gun to get this sort of rate of fire. This was extremely limited in close quarters, where a Humvee or Tank might not fit. While it was theoretically possible to carry a machine gun to the combat zone, such weapons are difficult to transport, setup, and use in close quarters.

Re:Fluff Piece (2, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923917)

These are actually robots

Nope, they're just remote-controlled weapons. They're not programmable.

-jcr

Not quite (2, Informative)

Soulfader (527299) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923951)

The M-249 is a belt or cartridge fed light machine gun, also known as the SAW (Squad Automatic Weapon). It fires the same rounds as the M-16, just a bit faster. It's heavier, but very much man-portable, and is a personal weapon. The M-240 is the 7.62mm replacement for the old M-60 of the Vietnam era. It is freaking heavy, and considered a crew-served weapon, but doesn't require a vehicle to move. You CAN mount either weapon on a Humvee turret, but it's hardly required. Again, SAWs are usually considered personal weapons.

Asmov's (sic) first "law"... (5, Funny)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923806)

...is no "law" at all.

If the submitter wants to troll about the military, the least he could do is spell Asimov's name correctly.

What makes a "robot"? Progressively more complex machinery has been able to inflict bodily harm, and kill, for quite some time.

What about Asimov's Fourth Law? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14923808)

A Roomba will not scare the piss out of a cat.

A few things: (5, Funny)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923812)


THE US Army is deploying armed robots in Iraq that are capable of breaking Asmov's first law that they should not harm a human.

Sorry to break it to the folks over at the Inquirer, but Asimov's Laws do not actually exist....any more than his 'positronic brain' does. It's fiction.
Next week on the Inquirer: Computers Built That Break The Orange Catholic Bible's Commandment of 'Thou shalt not make a machine in the likenes of a human mind'.
Sheesh.

They are still connected by radio to a human operator who verifies that a suitable target is within sight and orders it to fire.

OK....so the're not even robots, then. They're telepresence devices.

Then the robot has the job of making sure lots of bullets are sent towards the target.

Statement from the Iraqi forces regarding the use of these 'robots':
OMFG! u r fukn gay! u hack, i know it! fucking aimbot! tak ur aimbot bs to nothr country, asshats!


Nice to know we can take what we've learned in FPSs and apply them to the real world.

Later the US plans to replace the control system of the bots with a "Gameboy" type of controller hooked up to virtual reality goggles.

Yes! Finally, all my training has paid off! I can be a soldier from the comfort of my basement! Where do I sign?

Not to worry (5, Funny)

whyrat (936411) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923817)

These robots will have a pre-set kill limit.

The enemy must merely send wave after wave of men until that limit is reached and they will shut down.

Re:Not to worry (3, Funny)

Surt (22457) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923963)

You suck!

(wow ... who ever thought that would make for a funny, on-topic post!)

Bright Side (3, Funny)

th1ckasabr1ck (752151) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923818)

Well look on the bright side - at least it seems to stick to the second and third laws.

(assuming you ignore all that "except where such orders would conflict with the First Law" stuff)

Not an Automaton (2, Informative)

johndeerejedi (317878) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923826)

This is not an autonomous robot, but a radio controlled robot. We've been using laser guided bombs since the 1970s and other robots for this purpose for years. Until they are using automatons (autonomous robots not controlled by a human operator) it is not breaking Azimovs law.

Slight revision (1, Insightful)

PIPBoy3000 (619296) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923828)

Zeroth Law:
A robot must obey any order given to it by the commander-in-chief or his appointee.

First Law:
A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm, unless it conflicts with the Zeroth Law.

Second Law:
A robot must obey orders given it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the previous laws.

Third Law:
A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the previous laws.

Really? (3, Interesting)

AnonymousYellowBelly (913452) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923831)

As the robot is not intelligent enough - or isn't considered as such - to make the decision of opening fire I personally don't think this breaks Asimov's law. This robots are more like 'extensions' to a soldier's body, IMHO.

I guess that if we are to consider this a violation of Asimov's laws the computers of guided missiles have been ilegally killing people for a long time.

Who cares? (-1, Troll)

gowen (141411) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923832)

Lets see : sections of the US Army are happily breaking the UN accord on Human Rights (detention without trial), various articles of the Geneva Convention (treatment of prisoners), international law concerning invading sovereign nations [yes, this even covers ones run by genocidal bastards] and the 6th Commandment.

Why should a stupid, fictional law of robotics bother me?

Re:Who cares? (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923974)

articles of the Geneva Convention

You do realize that the Geneva Convention is a treaty that only applies to the treatment of soldiers of signatories to the treaty, don't you?

international law concerning invading sovereign nations

Technically, Iraq was still at war with the rest of the coalition that threw them out of Kuwait. Saddam had certain conditions he was bound to fulfill under the terms of a cease-filre (not a peace treaty), which he did not fulfill.

-jcr

Nothing special here (1)

Raul654 (453029) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923834)

The story says point blank that these are controlled by a human. That makes them no different than the missile-equipped predator aircraft (which have been used in Iraq for years now)

breaking? (1)

Mahou (873114) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923841)

how is this breaking the 1st law or whatever if they haven't been programmed with the law? it's not like the 'law' in this sense is the same 'law' used in science

Sounds more like... (1)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923843)

SWORDS (Special Weapons Observation Reconnaissance Detection Systems) robots are equipped with either the M249, machine gun which fires 5.56-millimeter rounds at 750 rounds per minute or the M240, which fires 7.62-millimeter rounds at up to 1,000 per minute.

... a first generation BOLO [iislands.com] .

Do the rogots get parades? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14923846)

Will we soon be talking about our "brave robotic slaves fighting terrorism overseas"? Eisenhower was right, the military-industrial complex is out of control.

Not a robot (5, Informative)

akheron01 (637033) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923847)

I don't know why people seem to want to classify everything that moves as a robot, this is a waldo [wikipedia.org] rather than a robot. To be a robot it has to make it's own decisions through some form of artificial intelligence or simulated intelligence, this is little more than a glorified remote control car with a gun strapped to it.

Re:Not a robot (1)

dave-tx (684169) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923898)

Hearing the name/term "Waldo" reminds me of this classic. [wikipedia.org]

And you're absolutely right in your categorization of the device mentioned in the article.

Re:Not a robot (1)

Frumious Wombat (845680) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923961)

Yes, but that's interesting enough in its own right. RAH and Haldeman gave us the image of the future soldier in his heavily computerized powered armor, but the soldier was still human. Later Haldeman (Forever Peace), changed that to a remote-controlled humanoid form. It's interesting to see that this might be the future; the humans (war-fighters in current parlance) will be isolated from the combat, and we'll fight via Waldos, whether these robo-cars or predators, or sharks with transmitters in their heads.

It's an interesting progression. We won't give up on war, but we will go to great lengths to make ourselves less personally involved. It will be interesting to see what happens when AIs improve, and the devices do become more autonomous. "I'm sorry Dave, but he really does need to be shot."

Robots fighting our wars for us (4, Funny)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923860)

This is great, now we can sit back, watch the News and see the Robots destroying each other in real time!
'Honey, pass me a beer, the robot wars are on.'

When a robot is not a robot (3, Insightful)

Hao Wu (652581) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923881)

What is a Predator drone but a flying robot?

Or is Slashdot more stuck on Hollywood myths than anyone, convinced that robots must have anthropomorphic traits, flashing non-functional lights, and a canned monotone voice...

The next step... (3, Funny)

cparisi (136611) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923885)

Now they just need to find some video game ace and tell him they want him to test out the "latest virtual reality video game". Even better if he's young and named "Ender"

Ridiculous Laws (5, Insightful)

Illserve (56215) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923892)

The very idea of a rule against hurting humans implies that a robot knows:

1. What hurting means
is it pain? death? financial impact? what about indirect effects? If I help human 1 build a better mousetrap, I am indirectly harming some other human's way of life.

2. What people are

3. Where they are

These are highly non trivial problems. In fact, they're unsolvable to any degree of certainty. They only make sense in a *science fiction* book in which a highly talented author is telling you a story. In the real world, they are meaningless because of their computational intractibility.

In the real world, we use codes of ethics and/or morality. Such codes recognize the fact that there are no absolutes and sometimes making a decision that will ultimately cause harm to someone is inevitable.

So can we please stop with these damned laws already?

Re:Ridiculous Laws (1)

PFI_Optix (936301) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923920)

Aside from that, the Laws would only apply if the robot were capable of making its own decisions.

And besides: who here didn't think that the first applications of advanced robots would be for warfare? DARPA was responsible for a LOT of the technology we take for granted today.

They aren't autonomous! (1)

MasterC (70492) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923899)

I haven't read any Asimov (he's on my list though) but my first thought to this was: Asimov is fiction and these aren't autonomous robots. These robots are radio controlled by humans, so all this does is put the soldier out of the line of fire and put a machine in his place.

So, why is Asimov being invoked on a non-autonomous robot and the military being frowned upon for breaking Asimov's first law...when the machines wouldn't have the foggiest of clues to what Asimov's laws mean?

Really, these robots are people killing people with a camera & some servos as a proxy. There is nothing sentient about this robot (from what I read).

gameboy wars (5, Funny)

freg (859413) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923900)

So what this really shows us is that the winner of future wars will be determined by the country who has the most skilled gamers. I think I like the direction things are headed. Let's be sure to stay friends with the Japanese tho.

Re:gameboy wars (5, Funny)

mikeee (137160) | more than 8 years ago | (#14924034)

Obviously, North Korea doesn't need nukes to defend against the US, but against a zergling rush from the South...

oversensationalism (1)

BecomingLumberg (949374) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923927)

I don't see how this is any different than the flying attack drones the military uses now, although with a much more advanced threat and target acquisition system. If anything, this system will help eliminate human error by allowing suggested parsing of people by estimated threat level.

Reference to Screamers?? (2, Interesting)

SisyphusShrugged (728028) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923941)

Does anyone remember the movie Screamers (and the Philip K Dick book Second Variety, on which it was based) In the movie the robots that we trying to wipe out humanity were called SWORDs. Maybe Bush really wants to wipe out all those annoying voters who are messing up his approval ratings....

Hahaha ... (1)

Qbertino (265505) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923946)

The Mudjaihidin are gonna pee their pants laughing at this.

Either it's battery will run dry in the middle of an operation.

Or simple fallpits filled with water will become real fun again.

Or some mix of old chains, barbed wire and metal scrap will be used to stop it dead in it's tracks. Literally.

Or some simple contraption containing sprayable graphite powder and chaff will show how fast a device like this can go haywire.

And, btw., this is not a robot but a remote controlled vehicle with a rc gun welded to it.

Old Story... (1)

JimMcc (31079) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923949)

If you RTFA, then actually read the story that the Inquirer non-news item links to, you'll see that this was announced in February 2005.

Not to minimize the other aspects of the non-news story, but this is pretty ancient news.

What's a robot, anyway? (1)

dorkygeek (898295) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923954)

A robot is a device which acts automatically, on its own, maybe triggered by sensors.

So what's so new about these news? There have been automatic defense system which fire as soon as something comes in sight. Is this not a robot? Just because it doesn't look like the classic sci-fi robot does it make no less a robot.

Calling the Doctor (1)

rlp (11898) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923966)

Do they look like upside down trashcans and shout "Exterminate!"?

Not the First... (3, Insightful)

MadMorf (118601) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923967)

I would argue that Cruise Missiles (US Navy's Tomahawk and USAF's ALCM and GLCM) are more robotic than this remote controlled toy...

Hey, almost any "fire and forget" missle qualifies for this distinction...

Sorry to say (1)

garaged (579941) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923978)

But Asimov's robots rules were made for intelligent robots, something that USA and every other country is far away from achieving right now

So, that robot doesn't break any relevant rule, its an unintelligent robot that can shot people, big deal, there are a few people that shot people in a lot of places, my only worry is that drug traffic will start eployin those

You fail to mention the army's backup plan (2, Funny)

saboola (655522) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923979)

If something goes wrong, they will deploy the Will Smith to take out the robot.

WarGames (1)

mattoo (909891) | more than 8 years ago | (#14923991)

Later the US plans to replace the control system of the bots with a "Gameboy" type of controller hooked up to virtual reality goggles.
I think that is even bigger than just using robots to kill people... The treshold for killing actual people will become about as low as killing in-game characters. Imagine the possibilities when they plug those bots into the America's Army gameservers!

/me puts tin foil hat on

Give it a rest (1)

smoor (961352) | more than 8 years ago | (#14924004)

I realize this is "news for nerds", but to get upset about a literary allusion is a little over the top even for this crowd. I think we all realize that Asimov's "Laws of Robotics" are not actually laws, thank you. If anybody didn't realize it, your brilliant and biting responses have certainly clarified the point. The issue of whether it is or isn't a robot is also kind of silly - robotic welders are called robots, and they aren't autonomous by any definition. Thus, to summarize: 1. Asimov's laws are not encoded into US legal statutes, laws of nature, or in the Bible (that I've seen) 2. Robots do not have to be autonomous or possess free will or sense of self I hope that helps. Go back to pining for your XP on IntelMac...

"Laws" (1)

Scarblac (122480) | more than 8 years ago | (#14924024)

"Asimov's Laws of Robotics" are a _plot device_ that Asimov invented for one reason: to be able to write entertaining stories based on showing the myriad ways in which they don't work. They're far too superficial and simplistic, by design.

So not only are they fictitious, they were invented in order to be wrong...

The three laws (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 8 years ago | (#14924025)

I don't recall any of Asimovs books ever said all robots had to be made with the three laws, only that they were. As such, there's nothing to be "broken". Asimov's laws mostly dealt with the difficulty of creating such a system at all, that wouldn't be twisted by cold machine logic.

Particularly the "through inaction, allow no human to come to harm" is problematic, even though the law obviously needs it. That may mean taking over for mankind, and what it means to a robot who can sense emotions. Other things include the definition of "human". If you let Hitler program the robots, the three laws might not help. Also the balance between very weak impulses from one law against strong impulses of another law. Otherwise, they'd never get past the tiniest details of the first law. not taking commands at all.

The question wasn't in as much if we can make a robot that would be a threat to humans, but rather if we could build one that wasn't. In either case, it doesn't seem we're even remotely close to working AI of that level.

Robot wars robot definition. (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 8 years ago | (#14924031)

sorry but I hate how the name "robot" is thrown around to almost anything. I was in robotics competitions in college and what these things are and what the general public is told a robot is are simply remote control cars with weapons.

Call me when the thing can be deployed with an objective and will on it's own finish that objective without human interaction or control. THEN I will call it a robot. until then it's a glorified remote control car.

Plans already underway to mass produce robotarmies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14924040)

This is just a stepping stone, to get a foothold on the technology and beta test ideas in the field... which was basically all the IRAQ war was really about. Everything else about it was a lie and a smokescreen by the military machine. The real agenda was to test smart weapons, large weapons systems, new tanks, new technology, new communications methods, robot surveilance machines, everything in the field... first via human control, and then ultimatly by wireless telemetry control from a command and control center.

Star Wars Episode 2 laid it all out for us... a vast army of specialised clone machines of vast and varied destructive capabilities able to be controled and deployed remotely, who do not tire, who do not fear, who do not have any moral qualms or conscience about killing anything or reservations about anything they are doing whatsoever.

When you can setup factories that mass produce soldiers who only require fuel and direction, the world is yours to own. Then no human interference stands in your way to mass deployment. It comes down to cranking up your factories full gear to produce death dealing machines which the the US already has plenty of experience in since WW2.

Eventually, you build the robots which build the robots, so you eliminate the human conscience all together to think twice about what its doing. And you run it full throttle.

Every human reading this needs to be doing everything possible to fight the US government now with everything they have before its too late, and there will not be any stopping its greed and power. We know the lies, we see them plainly, and yet sit complacently behind computer monitors downloading the latest copy of media playing software while the American government expands its power and commits appauling attrocities around the world out of site.

The same thing happened in Nazi germany as the citizens just kind of listened to their radio and went along with the flow... decades latter they still feel guilty that they did not stand up and act to stop and put an end to the madness when they still had a chance to.

Russian Dogs! (1)

CockMonster (886033) | more than 8 years ago | (#14924043)

This reminds me of the story, whereby during WW2 the Russians trained dogs to lie under tanks, with the intention of strapping them with explosives on the battlefield to destroy enemy tanks. However, once on the battlefield and the dogs were unleashed (hehe) they ran under the Soviet tanks instead.

Obligatory Futurama Quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14924045)

Bender: *snore* "Kill all humans...Kill all humans...Must kill all hu..."
Fry: "Bender, wake up!"
Bender: "I was having the most wonderful dream! I think you were in it."

Johnny 5... (1)

pvt_medic (715692) | more than 8 years ago | (#14924046)

wasnt he originally designed to be a military robot with a laser weapon system. Just wait till one of these things goes nutty and wanders off and joins up with Steve Guttenberg. THe HORROR, oh please wont anyone think of the children.

Ok crack break is done, back to work.

Not a Robot, and Not a First (1)

kryzx (178628) | more than 8 years ago | (#14924057)

These are not autonomous robots, as other comments have stated. And this clearly is not the first use of remote control machines to attack.

The U.S. military has been using UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) for a while, and has used them to launch missile attacks in several cases, which you have probably heard about on the news. You could argue that the UAVs are nearly robots, since they do quite a bit of flying and observing autonomously. But they do not attack autonomously.

This wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] describes one such UAV, the Predator, and details the attack missions [wikipedia.org] it has been used for.

Are these REALLY robots? (2, Insightful)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 8 years ago | (#14924061)

In my mind, a robot operates on it's own. It is a mechanical device that can be programmed to perform specific function in advance and then operates independantly.

A lot of what are called robots are just fancy remote controled cars. In this case, a fancy remote controled car with guns. Fun, but not a robot.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...