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Killer Military Robot Arms Race Underway?

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the skynet-unavailable-for-comment dept.

Robotics 332

coondoggie writes to tell us NetworkWorld is reporting that one researcher seems to think that a military robot arms race may be imminent between both governments and terrorists. "We are beginning to see the first steps towards an international robot arms race and it may not be long before robots become a standard terrorist weapon to replace the suicide bomber, according to professor Noel Sharkey, from the Royal United Services Institute Department of Computer Science. [...] Currently there is always a human in the loop to decide on the use of lethal force. However, this is set to change with the US giving priority to autonomous weapons - robots that will decide on where, when and who to kill, according to the professor."

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332 comments

obligated (5, Funny)

liquidmpls (839148) | more than 6 years ago | (#22578954)

I for one welcome our new killer robot overlords yeah sorry, i just needed to get it out of the way to make room for the real discussion about skynet

Re:obligated (1)

jim.hansson (1181963) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579100)

yeah, the important question is will they run on Linux

Re:obligated (1)

joaommp (685612) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579524)

I don't think they will run on linux unless you intend to run over a tux doll using the robot's caterpillar...

But who knows, maybe linux will run on them...

Meanwhile, in Baghdad (5, Funny)

s20451 (410424) | more than 6 years ago | (#22578966)

"Is that an aibo? Man, I haven't seen one of those since ..." BLAM!

Re:Meanwhile, in Baghdad (4, Insightful)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579074)

That's funny - but it's also true. We are a long, long way out from terrorists using robots. And they don't need to go high tech like that when they can round up some local people who are mentally handicapped and rig them up. That looks to have been working pretty well for them. Why add the cost of building a robot that will be spotted right off?

Re:Meanwhile, in Baghdad (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579202)

This is related to something I was thinking about last night, actually...what with all the suicide bombings going on, and the number of casualties that "the terrorists" must have sustained at this point...won't they eventually start running low on personnel?

Re:Meanwhile, in Baghdad (1)

rrkap (634128) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579364)

It isn't that hard to make more people. In fact its kind of fun. Outside of a pretty intense war, making enough people for all your suicide bombing needs doesn't seem like too high of a hurdle.

Re:Meanwhile, in Baghdad (3, Interesting)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579386)

From what I've read - and I'm no expert - they recruit heavily from many parts of the world, and I think it has been pretty well documented, that they have also used unwilling participants by either lying to them or taking advantage of people with limited mental capacity. I've seen television footage on youtube and such that seems to indicate that in places like Palestine they are doing their best to indoctrinate children in a manner that will make them more likely to be candidates when they get older.
 
I would think that automated weaponry can only help counter-terrorism forces, unless there is some kind of huge mishap or malfunction. The terrorists depend on fighting the will of their opponent. Would so many in the US be so hot to leave Iraq if there were not so many American casualties? I personally doubt it.
 
On a side note - I'm not interested in debating foreign policy or the situation in the middle east as far as who's at fault, right/wrong, etc. Just commenting on what I know of current conditions.

Re:Meanwhile, in Baghdad (2, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579504)

Would so many in the US be so hot to leave Iraq if there were not so many American casualties? I personally doubt it.


I agree with this, for the most part. The only reservation that I have with it is that when you compare wars in the middle east (includes the Iraq/Afghanistan wars and Desert Storm) to wars in America's past history, hardly anyone has been killed (again, comparitively). Granted, there have been many MANY casualties on the American side, but not really all that many KIAs.

Re:Meanwhile, in Baghdad (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22579530)

Not as long as foreign troops are in their homelands torturing, killing, and oppressing their family members. There'll be a constant stream of new recruits. Funny how that works...

Re:Meanwhile, in Baghdad (3, Insightful)

GreyyGuy (91753) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579562)

Statistically, there are not very many suicide bombers. Just a few makes more than enough impact.

As for recruiting, the USA has been demonized by terrorist groups, and unfortunately the US has given lots of recruiting ammunition with Iraq and the problems there. Combine that with a lack of communication of all sides of the issues, a large uneducated population, and a fundamentalist religious group that makes fighting and dying "holy", and there is little chance of the terrorist groups running out of recruits.

Re:Meanwhile, in Baghdad (1)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579252)

Stick a department store mannequin in a junker car loaded with explosives.

Wire said junker up to be a robot--add in a processor, some collision detection software, maybe a GPS or some other heuristic to determine when to blow up--and send it off.

The now robotic junker car looks legit enough at a first glance--there's a human-looking figure in the driver's seat, it's a car, it passes--but it's still a robot that's heading towards its target.

Not all robots need to look even vaguely humanoid.

Re:Meanwhile, in Baghdad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22579342)

> Wire said junker up to be a robot--add in a processor, some collision detection software, maybe a GPS or some other heuristic to determine when to blow up--and send it off.

Yeah, much easier than sending in a person. *snort*

Re:Meanwhile, in Baghdad (0, Flamebait)

GreyyGuy (91753) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579648)

A person requires a lot of work to be convinced to end their life. They require a decent sized support group to reinforce the message.

The description above is not too much more involved then Mythbusters gets each week.

Re:Meanwhile, in Baghdad (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579458)

Or get some young kid who just joined the movement, send him in a truck on what is a 'dry run' to test security. But instead, remote detonate him. Much higher likelihood of success.
 
Most car bombs that do a lot of damage don't even need someone in them. Riding up on a check point wont bag a lot of casualties. They are set up with that in mind, and the first time said truck with mannequin is stopped, the gig is up.

Re:Meanwhile, in Baghdad (2, Informative)

MrSteveSD (801820) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579476)

Well the "Mentally Handicapped Suicide Bombers" story was perpetuated by the US Military. It has since turned out to be false.

Re:Meanwhile, in Baghdad (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579572)

You have a source on that? I'm not just talking about the 2 most recent either. My understanding is that this has been sop for some time. I've not seen anything to show otherwise and would be interested if you could point me towards new information.

Thank God (0, Flamebait)

copponex (13876) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579482)

Hopefully the terrorists never get advanced enough to build any kind of robots or technology that would allow them to deliver munitions from long distances, high altitude, or even space, indiscriminately killing hundreds of thousands of US civilians. I can't imagine what we'd do to retaliate, but we'd never resort to terrorism.

I'm just glad we're not terrorists! Go freedom! Go democracy (unless you vote Hamas)! Peace in the middle east! Long live the USA, and Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan, and... oh wait, Pakistan isn't doing what we told them anymore. Go Saudi Arabia, anyhow!

USA! USA! USA! USA! USA!

Re:Meanwhile, in Baghdad (1, Interesting)

Irvu (248207) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579538)

Somewhat snarky (or sick) as this sounds I think you are right. The one true advantage that a suicide bomber confers is actually not the cheapness but the use of a human at all. As much as we may tend to hear them described as terrorists, etc. the simple fact of the matter is that most sucide bombers are anything but true believers but the misled, the misguided or the depressed.

But however much their personal reasons vary the fact that they are willing to blow themselves up sends a clear, and direct message. When the lives of a people are so bad that they can be found willing to kill themselves then what does that say? Put another way, when the people a government "serves" are so willing to die then no illusion of happiness can be maintained. And people, unlike robots can go where people go, cafes resteraunts, etc. They can look like anyone, be like anyone thus engendering the paranoia that destroys a civilization.

Look at Israel. The goal of suicide bombers there has been to make people afraid to go out, afraid to shop, afraid to sit in a cafe. Afraid, period to trust that the person next to them won't explode in a shower of nails at any moment. Not being an israeli I can't say how pervasive the fear is but my impression is that it is nonegligeable. Similar things could easily be said of Iraq where the prospect is that the neighbor might kill you for being a member of the wrong tribe or sect.

Until a robot offers gains at a comparatively cheap price they won't be chosen by "terrorists". Wealthier governments may prefer them but to what end? The laws of war (yes they exist) and the logic of war assumes human decisionmaking, an automatic robot seems more like a landmine, something that would kill "impersonally" and, like landmines seems likely to be one of those things that may do as much harm to the ones who deploy it as their "enemies" (let alone civilians) and will last long after the conflict in which it 'served'.

This American Life, is a PRI radio show that you can listen to online. They ran a good piece called "Know Your Enemy" [thisamericanlife.org] that featured a meeting between a would-be suicide bomber and the Israeli minister of defense. The interview is enlightening both for the characteristics of the bomber and the process by which such suicide bombers are produced.

No!! (2, Funny)

olclops (591840) | more than 6 years ago | (#22578972)

Dammit! This robot arms race is only going to distract robot researchers from the vastly more important goal: the robot sex race.

Probably not (3, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579122)

It is almost assured that we will have sex robots within another 10 years. WHy? 1 word; Money. How much money is made by prostitution? Even illegal, it rivals drugs.

Re:Probably not (2, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579372)

really? you think people would switch to robots from prostitutes? I mean, isn't part of the appeal to straight men for straight sex that the other person be a female person. Would a plastic and metal animatronic doll with a vibrating functions and pelvic thrusts really satisfy that need?

I see sex robots as appealing to people with a blow up sex doll and too much money.

I won't be surprised to see them arrive, but I'm skeptical they are going to be received as much more than ridiculously expensive sex toys. And sure a lot of people use sex toys, but I'm skeptical how big the market for a multi-thousand dollar sex robot is really going to be.

Re:Probably not (1)

Chode2235 (866375) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579472)

Plus they would be difficult to hide when you have company over.

"What's that over there? Is that that robot?"

"Oh, its nothing, pay no attention to the robot with the multiple orifices over there"

You need to figure in the economics of discretion.

The Founding Fathers never predicted this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22578974)

Can we have the 2nd Amendment changed to "the right to bear Killer Military Robots?"

Humans are still in the loop (2, Insightful)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 6 years ago | (#22578996)

Someone has to send the robot. At least until Skynet is built.

Beware the Una-robo-bomber(s) of the world! (1)

Dareth (47614) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579330)

Oh someone will send a robot sooner or later. And if they want to keep sending them, they will most likely be programmed to do as much damage as possible before self destructing for further damage and to avoid capture and forensic analysis to track it back to its owner/creator.

If we are lucky, their self destruct will be as touchy as that probe in the Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Way to easy for Han to pop it once when Chewie distracted it for a moment. Kaboom!

Robot Ninjas (2, Funny)

TooMad (967091) | more than 6 years ago | (#22578998)

Can we build robot Ninjas and robot Pirates and settle this once and for all with a fight to death?

Obligatory (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22579016)

These aren't the droids you're looking for...

HowCouldThisStoryPossiblyBeTagged (1)

notnAP (846325) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579020)

4:24PM EST and so far the tag hasn't shown up. What's the over/under time on when this story will be tagged whatcouldpossiblygowrong?

Re:HowCouldThisStoryPossiblyBeTagged (1)

drpimp (900837) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579210)

As of now "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" has not been tagged. And thanks for that. It's one of those from the "reallygettingoldtagdept"

Re:HowCouldThisStoryPossiblyBeTagged (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22579322)

I figure we are pretty safe until they start arming the robots with guns that don't need to be reloaded with conventional ammo. Even a bayonet wielding robot should be fairly stoppable, but one with a lethal laser and nuclear power supply could be a real drag to get rid of when it runs amok. Which of course means that is the way they will be designed eventually.

A modest proposal (4, Funny)

Ilan Volow (539597) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579034)

If robotic innocent civilians can be manufactured to replace the humans blown up by military bots and suicide bomber bots, then no one has to die.

Re:A modest proposal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22579230)

True, unless you count the robots who are eventually gonna get really pissed off...

The future (5, Funny)

Eudial (590661) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579040)

Yes, I look into my crystal sphere, and in it I see the future comments of this thread:

* Yes, but do they have frickin' laser beams attached to their head?
* In soviet Russia, Robots arm YOU!
* I, for one, welcome our new gun-toting robot overlords (points for being uncomfortably close to the truth)
* References to the matrix or terminator series and/or I robot.

Re:The future (3, Interesting)

Wylfing (144940) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579668)

Pah! You forgot "Second Variety" by Philip K. Dick. Now that is a story about exactly what is under discussion: an escalating robot arms race that turns out quite poorly for everyone.

70 Virgins for a robot? (1, Funny)

GCH (20184) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579044)

So, do the robot suicide bombers get 70 virgins, too?

Re:70 Virgins for a robot? (1)

DaveAtFraud (460127) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579402)

Nah. The killer robot gets 70 "Moaning Mable" blow up dolls (it's a robot fetish thing).

Cheers,
Dave

Obligatory... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22579050)

I, for one, welcome our robot overlords.

I usually frown upon this... (1, Redundant)

Sabz5150 (1230938) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579052)

But after seeing this comment:

robots that will decide on where, when and who to kill

I happily welcome our new robotic overlords!

Please don't kill me. I like machines.

Re:I usually frown upon this... (4, Funny)

russ1337 (938915) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579180)

It was the last part that freaked me out: "robots that will decide on where, when and who to kill, according to the professor "

I sure hope this professor is a nice person.

Re:I usually frown upon this... (1)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579288)

The only way to fight said robots will be to wear red sweaters and white fishing hats; this will cause the robots to malfunction automatically.

Or we could develop some kind of bamboo-and-coconut method of fighting 'em, but why enter the arms race on the same terms?

Re:I usually frown upon this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22579586)

> It was the last part that freaked me out: "robots that will decide on where, when and who to kill, according to the professor "
>
> I sure hope this professor is a nice person.

"Good news, everyone!"

Re:I usually frown upon this... (2, Informative)

urcreepyneighbor (1171755) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579258)

Please don't kill me. I like machines.
If you ever come across one of those killing machines, follow these steps:

1 - Get naked.
2 - Coat your entire body in WD-40.
3 - Get on all fours.
4 - Scream, at the top of your lungs, "I love robots!"
5 - Close your eyes and brace yourself for a wild ride.

And yet, for all the warnings (2, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579058)

this will continue. The advantage that countries have over terrorist is the ability to build these faster, and more, while the terrorist will have the advantage of needing just a few to hit a relatively none moving enemy. Of course, the real issue will be what happens when 2 major nations move from a cold war to a hot war. Will they use the robots and lasers? I suspect that the next "great" war will be fought in just that context.

Now, ir we can turn these robots into good civil use, then it will help. In particular, if we really want to settle on Mars and perhaps the moon, we will need robots. They will enable us to do the building in a fraction of the time and most likely at a fraction of the costs.

Re:And yet, for all the warnings (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22579138)

...while the terrorist will have the advantage of needing just a few to hit a relatively none moving enemy....


That, and some kind of R&D facility and a way to manufacture the robots. Unless they are really clever and make them out of sticks and rubber bands.

Re:And yet, for all the warnings (4, Funny)

Foobar of Borg (690622) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579302)

Unless they are really clever and make them out of sticks and rubber bands.
In other news, an American robot army base was struck by the hitherto unknown militant Islamic faction known as al-MacGyver.

hehehehe (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579434)

I take it that you have not worked in the DOD or in the spy industry? There is NO such thing as a secret. The only way to hide things is to put it out in the open and then provide a cover (create conspiracy theories), or provide a place where EVERYBODY who knows about something is kept there. The reality is, that the west knew a lot about Nazi Germany and USSR, even though those countries would execute ppl all the time to keep them quiet. Shoots, Pakistan and Turkey have the plans for nukes because a number of top republicans, such as Richard Pearle, sold it to them illegally( for which Al Qaeda now has access to ).

Terrorists will obtain their RD from us or from small countries that either legally or illegally bought the tech. Then it will be countries who view us as neutral or enemies that will sell the parts to them. Weaponry is an ongoing change.

Re:And yet, for all the warnings (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579174)

FTFA:

Professor Sharkey is reluctant to explain how such robots could be made but he points out that a small GPS guided drone with autopilot could be made for about $200.
In other words, a flying bomb made from an RC plane/blimp.

The first time one of these goes off, that'll be the end of RC aviation in the USA.

Re:And yet, for all the warnings (1)

Charcharodon (611187) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579522)

Now, ir we can turn these robots into good civil use, then it will help. In particular, if we really want to settle on Mars and perhaps the moon

Once we build a robot army and then turn it loose, there'll be plenty of empty (freshly cleared), dirt cheap property here on planet Earth, no need to goto the moon or Mars.

Nonsense (2, Insightful)

testostertwo (1203692) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579072)

Why would I, a terrorist, go to all the effort of developing and building a sophisticated machine when I can can just blow stuff up?

Blowing stuff up is:
  - Easier
  - Cheaper
  - Faster
  - Harder to detect in advance
  - Scarier

Maybe if I could take control of robots the military creates it would be worth some effort. But why bother? They're already something we should all be scared of: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/10/19/sa_gun_death_probe/ [theregister.co.uk]

Obligatory (2, Insightful)

sam_paris (919837) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579090)

What about Asimov's three laws of Robotics? (particularly law 1)

A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.


(and ps: yes I know these are just fictional but I can't pass up a chance to quote the master...hell he even invented the word Robotics!)

Re:Obligatory (1)

Freeside1 (1140901) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579186)

What about the 0th law? The one that the robots themselves realized. It allows them to kill/harm humans if it benefits humanity.

Cats and newspapers (5, Interesting)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579106)

Until someone can build an automatic vacuum cleaner that does not try to eat my cat, or an automated lawnmower that does not trim the newspaper, I'm not going to worry.
Even if the tech does reach that level, building a military bot is another level beyond that. And somehow, I think that it is not going to be well understood by guys whose concept of hi-tech is a retractable box knife.
It's gonna be a longgg time before I worry.

Re:Cats and newspapers (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22579280)

Until someone can build an automatic vacuum cleaner that does not try to eat my cat, or an automated lawnmower that does not trim the newspaper, I'm not going to worry.
I'm not quite sure I understand your reasoning. You seem to be making the following points:
1) Current autonomous robots damage their surroundings and are hard to control.
2) The military (and possibly terrorists) want to put really big guns on autonomous robots.
3) Therefore you are NOT going to worry.

Either I misinterpreted you, or you have an interesting view of what to worry about.

Re:Cats and newspapers (5, Insightful)

batquux (323697) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579338)

Until someone can build an automatic vacuum cleaner that does not try to eat my cat, or an automated lawnmower that does not trim the newspaper, I'm not going to worry.
That is precisely why this does worry me.

Re:Cats and newspapers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22579608)

Oh? Your vacuum cleaner going after your cat could actually be proof of AI! It figured out the *cause* of all that hair, and decided to cut it off at the source... soon it'll start going after the people creating all that dust...

Re:Cats and newspapers (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22579702)

Until someone can build an automatic vacuum cleaner that does not try to eat my cat, or an automated lawnmower that does not trim the newspaper, I'm not going to worry.
Shouldn't that be cause to worry more? Building a robot that shoots at anything that moves isn't nearly as hard as building one which can discriminate between targets.

Suicidal robots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22579110)

sounds like an episode from Futurama. Seriously, terrorists using robots? Would it shout, "Allah ackbar" in a robotic voice before it blew up?

1,000 virgins (1)

the computer guy nex (916959) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579112)

and it may not be long before robots become a standard terrorist weapon to replace the suicide bomber

This won't happen until suicide bombers fail to believe that 1,000s of virgins wait in the afterlife for them.

Re:1,000 virgins (1)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579184)

Or until they figure out WHY those women are virgins with nothing better to do than to wait for some loser to blow himself up.

Re:1,000 virgins (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22579390)

Or until they figure out WHY those women are virgins with nothing better to do than to wait for some loser to blow himself up.
Who said anything about virgin women?

To replace suicide bombers? I think not. (1)

LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579114)

Why would terrorists use robots to replace suicide bombers? These people haven't even figured out how to use timers yet*, I don't think deathbringing robots will be their first foray into the world of technology.

*: Yes, OK, I know it probably isn't so much a case of "haven't figured out" as "chosen not to use", but in either case my point remains valid.

Re:To replace suicide bombers? I think not. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22579340)

Humans are the ultimate "smart weapon." They can place themselves in the optimal location at the appropriate time to ensure the maximum damage. A timer doesn't do this. You rely too much on luck then. Robots as a delivery system makes sense, even if by "robot" they really just mean glorified RC truck with a camera on it.

Gundam Wing talked about this. (5, Insightful)

Coraon (1080675) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579132)

Long and short, when we let robots do our fighting for us, it becomes so cheep to make war that its cheaper to make war then peace. his is why I feel that people should always be required for the front line, war has to suck so it will always be a last resort.

Re:Gundam Wing talked about this. (1)

soundhack (179543) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579344)

Star Trek TOS had this as an episode too, and I am sure it wasn't the first time this thought was expressed.

Re:Gundam Wing talked about this. (2, Insightful)

thelastquestion (1090169) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579682)

so since when has the fact that war sucks for the grunts ever stopped an actual war? seriously, go ahead and use robots for the frontlines, that way there aren't any poor bastards that have to die for their countries just because the people in charge don't like the other people in charge.

Re:Gundam Wing talked about this. (1)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579698)

War isn't about dying for your country--it's about making the other guy die for his.

humans out of the loop for a while now. (3, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579136)

Really it is just a matter of how long it is between when you pull the trigger. Land mines, Air to air missiles, surface to air missiles, Captor mines, Even some torpedoes are all killer robots and have been around for a good long time.

First the Robot wars, then the clone wars (1)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579156)

First comes the robot wars then one side figures out cloning of humans and makes the ultimate soldier... or Bobba Fet's dad.

Soon? (1)

qoncept (599709) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579162)

I think it will be a VERY long time before robots replace suicide bombers. Why don't we see remote controlled car bombs? They look conspicuous. Imagine Robocop with TNT strapped to him coming in to your building. More importantly, suicide bombers can be bought for less.

Re:Soon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22579460)

OTOH, imagine an RC car...

Not to worry. (4, Funny)

CSMatt (1175471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579164)

Killbots have a preset kill limit. Send wave after wave of your men at them until they shut down.

Article ignores costs (0)

IP_Troll (1097511) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579192)

The whole reason the terrorists send humans is because they cannot afford the cost of a remote detonating device like a cell phone. Terrorists are Terrorists because they do not have enough money to become a legitimate Army. Terrorists normally don't even have enough money to get proper explosives, hence "Improvised Explosive Devices".

It is all a matter of cost, humans are cheaper and more plentiful to your average terrorist than autonomous robots.

Re:Article ignores costs (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579408)

Actually, cell phones are dirt cheap, and they are very frequently used in IED manufacture, to the point where standard procedure for IED disposal units includes the use of a high-powered cell phone jammer. The reason they use humans in some bombings is the same reason the Japanese (and, for a short time, the Germans) used humans in aircraft kamikaze runs during WWII: because humans make a cheap and effective guidance system. A human can infiltrate, say, a police checkpoint or a market packed with unarmed civilians.

Remote controlled? Yes. Autonomous? No. (3, Insightful)

Radon360 (951529) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579198)

This short article seems to do little more than stir the FUD pot.

If you want to talk about having unmanned, remote control vehicles, some of which require little more than occasional supervisory control most of the time, I'm with you. We have them already, and more are in development all over the world. Expect to see lots more of them come about in the near future. As alluded to, this will be the robot arms race.

Terrorists using remote controlled devices to deploy and detonate bombs? Sure. It's not all that hard to believe that someone with some decent technical skills can put together a remote control kit on a full-sized car, then strap explosives to it (for example).

But c'mon. Killbots that can think and function completely on their own? ...and be effective enough in its mission to justify the costs of deploying it in lieu of something remote controlled by a human? Such a device is still a ways off for the U.S. Military, let alone some terrorist organization.

Can't ... Stop ... Must ... Type ... (1)

BigBlueOx (1201587) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579222)

Sarah Connah?
Ah am a friend uff herz. May ah zee her please?

Ok, I feel much better now.

3-2-1 ACTIVATE (4, Interesting)

Mushdot (943219) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579250)

I think this is a natural progression for nations with an organised military. Once the basics are down machines can be churned out much quicker than we can train humans and you don't need to be as accurate and quick thinking as a human would be - sheer numbers and a shotgun approach would suffice and so who has the greatest manufacturing capacity would have the advantage.

Looking further into the future I'm sure wars will be fought totally on a technological basis e.g. hacking networks to shut down utilities and enemy soldiers to disable them etc. Maybe even further along wars will be won and lost without loss of human life - "Ok we surrender, we have no food, water or power and our Unisols are pointing their guns at us. You can have our continent."

I may have the wrong sci-fi series but I'm sure I remember a Star Trek episode where wars were fought by computer and afterward the required number of human casualties were euthanised to balance the books? Maybe at that point the geek shall inherit the earth and FPS skills will finally be recognised for what they are :-)

Futurism isn't (4, Insightful)

Merovign (557032) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579260)

1) Robot suicide bombers isn't exactly an ethical step down for bombers - and it lacks martyr value.

2) I imagine fear of friendly fire will keep handlers at the controls of robots for quite some time.

3) I think there have been a few robotic sentries made that act autonomously but constantly report and can be overridden (S. Korea, perhaps?)...

4) Unsettling thought the implications may be, eventually I think robotic, autonomous war machines will be built - and for the builders, it will be quite a plus. Probably a bit of a downer for everyone else.

It may be seen in retrospect as another of those "Roman Conquest" moments where a powerful, advanced culture stomps all over more primitive cultures - but the survivors end up better off, at least for a while. History, like sausages, is a process whose benefits are better (more comfortably) enjoyed than understood.

No disassemble (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22579274)

I always wanted to see Jonny 5 roaming my street.

This I think is a double-edged sword. (1)

SilverBlade2k (1005695) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579294)

Having a robotic military means that no humans have to die (or very little). Which is a VERY good thing. But, having said that, without the fear involved in war, war then becomes nothing more then a Starcraft match. War will become this "why worry? its only robots" thing, and so war won't be as feared as before. Everyone hates/fears war (except those who profit), and so, making real war into a Starcraft game would downplay the horrors of war, and no one will be against it. After all..their just robots.

Re:This I think is a double-edged sword. (1)

nuzak (959558) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579444)

> Having a robotic military means that no humans have to die (or very little). Which is a VERY good thing.

Assuming you're the side with the robots. The side willing to kill plenty of humans since you no longer have to really experience the mess of actual combat.

Of course this is how the politicians see actual soldiers now, and there's a whole establishment built around turning people into order-following robots anyway, so really, what's the difference?

Missle vs robot and cost evaluation (1)

sanjacguy (908392) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579300)

This brings up an interesting question: What do you qualify as a robot? What's the difference between a guidance system and a robot?

I don't see the 'arms race' happening in the way the US-Soviet one did. A Katyusha (sp?) has been the same damn thing since WW2, and doesn't require a guidance system. Why spend $250 per rocket to make it a true missle, when your miliary objective isn't to hit TARGET X but to hit something semi-randomly. That's why the Katyushas worked during the most recent skirmishes between Israel and Hezbollah - the randomness is part of the appeal of the weapon.

Robots aren't needed ... (1)

Spectre (1685) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579324)

Fanatics are far easier and cheaper to come by and train than robots, for at least several more years.

Always a human in the loop (3, Interesting)

trybywrench (584843) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579446)

There will always be a human in the loop as far as semi-autonomous weapons go. I'm surprised anyone on slashdot would think otherwise. Maybe 50 years from now an AI would have the intelligence to separate friend from foe from bystander but the tech is simply not there now.

I imagine what we'll see is weapons deployed around the world with their controllers located somewhere else safe. That means easier/faster deployment and none of your own soldiers in harm's way. Maybe UAV's push proposed targets to commanders instead of commanders pouring over recon :shrug: i can see that but not a pure autonomous firefight. For a long time a human will be giving the final OK to fire.

And if they're better at it? (1)

Dr. Eggman (932300) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579484)

We always worry about what will happen if the robots aren't able to discern combatants and non combatants well enough, but what if we turn out to build robots that are better at it than us? Ones that can pinpoint the source of gunfire [slashdot.org] from a crowd. Ones of infinite calm, whom won't be startled, fatigued [time.com], or angered into making a terrible mistake or committing outright murder. Yes that technology has far to go, yes tele-communication as it currently stands is insufficient to replace ground patrol units, but those are challenges that I think can be met. Challenges that will be met, and will result in fewer casualties in war than ever before; for both our soldiers and innocent civilians.

Bender.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22579486)

hey baby, wanna kill all humans?

sarah connor chronicles called it... (1)

keith_nt4 (612247) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579590)

Didn't you see that episode from a few weeks ago? All you have to do is daisy chain an xbox and a couple playstations together and bam! Robot with moods and playing chess.

Model Helicopter + Hand Grenade (1)

MrSteveSD (801820) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579662)

There are plenty of possibilities for terrorism with "robots". Model Aircraft can be easily adapted to drop a grenade or two. You could even pack a model plane with explosives and ball bearings and just fly it into your target. You can already buy cheap video cameras that transmit live pictures back from your models while they are in flight, so you could basically make a video-guided bomb on a fairly low budget. We will probably see this sort of thing before too long.

I develop these systems, this story is 4 pageviews (4, Insightful)

Jtheletter (686279) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579674)

I've been watching this story slowly spread around the net today since I develop for some of the systems referred to. The whole thing is a bunch of hand-waving 'OMG teh robotz will kills us all!' page rank generating crap.
First, very few robotic systems in the whole world right now are even weaponized, yet we're supposed to believe automated killing is "just around the corner". Second, no military anywhere has deployed fully automated (no human on trigger/joystick) weaponized systems ever, yet we're to expect legions of them very soon. Third, "terrorists" will supposedly get their hands on these systems and reverse engineer them to their advantage - do I even need to explain how improbable this is? Military and private research funded to the tune of billions haven't even been able to develop these systems yet, but we're supposed to believe some terrorist organizations with almost no funding and little access to high-level engineers will be able to understand and rework these same nonexistent systems. Is it impossible? No. I don't doubt that given enough time eventually some extremist group will have a CS PhD/MS level member who could figure something out. That still doesn't negate the fact that no groups have even captured and reverse-engineered current robotic systems, which are much less advanced than this alleged future autonomous platform would be. And finally, if one of the major world governments developed and deployed fully autonomous armed robots, does anyone really think there wouldn't be a remote shutdown/disable sequence or other back door?
It's fun to discuss possible dystopian Terminator style futures, but it annoys me to no end when some researcher or professor says we're all imminently doomed and the net runs away with the idea. We're still very far from fully automated systems with weapons. Even US tanks, which have highly advanced target acquisition and recognition systems, aren't fired except by a human operator. You'll see fully automated targeting and firing in manned vehicles long before you see it in unmanned platforms IMHO.

And to stem off people who point out that many UAVs fly totally unmanned, with weapons, and with no joystick control - there are multiple ground operators constantly monitoring and updating mission parameters for each of these UAVs, also all firing sequences are still human in the loop.

The future moral of this story will be (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#22579704)

either
1) Make sure that your weapons cannot be reprogrammed by the enemy
2) Make certain that your mobile robotic weapons recognize the difference between friendly robotic weapons and those of the foe, as well as make sure it recognizes a new robotic devices as threatening before the small rat sized robots suicide bomb your 3 million dollar killing machine
3) Buy stock in Duracell
4) Invent anti-EMP armor before deploying $50 million dollars worth of machine gun
5) ..
6) buy stock in Duracell
7) profit
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