On the 20 anniversary of Robocop, I wanted to tell you about the dark side of robotics. We all now that robots and machines are being built for all kinds of uses. A recent blog post discusses how robot arms (like Luke Skywalker’s) are within a few years of being a reality. There are plenty of robots out there that help human-kind, but what about the ones that hurt human-kind?
Here is your first taste: Foster-Miller has developed a remote controlled armed robot that is being deployed in Iraq. The machine has treads for movement, several cameras to guide the operator, and is capable of mounting a machine gun, sniper rifle, or rocket launcher. More articles about this: USA Today, Jane’s, and Wikipedia.
It was only a matter of time before this happened and is almost a natural innovation. Put robots in the dicey situations instead of a human life. Save lives, rebuild remote machines. I even have a video below that touts the ingenuity and lifes-saving tools that these machines represent.
But, I am scared. Will anyone mark down the day when a robot has killed a human? Will we even get it reported on (or perhaps it has already happened). What roads does this take us down…Will the military only buy the initial 1-2,000 they contracted, or build a whole army? What about immensely wealthy individuals, what will stop them from fielding their own army?
Yeah, I am freaking out. Any serious Star Wars fan knows that an entire galaxy can be brought to its knees by this type of scenario (clone wars). One of these things is no big deal, but what about hundreds of thousands of them…Not to mention that this changes warfare completely. All of those intense stand-offs, where both sides are locked in place, trying to gain an advantage. Ok, well just send in the robots. Give the machine an armor plating and have it roll right into firing position. What kind of strategy will a hybrid army of humans and robots use? In fact, what happens when you take out the human element. What kind of war will be fought when we aren’t afraid of losing lives…
This also upsets the balance of the nations. Can Bahrain ever hope to field an army as massive as the United States? Not a human army, but they can sure buy a robot army. Then you could have this scenario where our soldiers are sent in to battle and they face-off with these machines.
Finally, how will history judge us when the first human is killed by a robot, or a remote controlled machine. You can sure bet that the first death will be that of an Iraqi or an Afghani. Will we as Americans even care? Nope. We barely pay attention to the war, or the meat grinder it has become. Thousands of people have died and are still dying. It has created a sort of emergency situation in our minds and hearts. End it quickly, will it ever be over, stop losing lives.
The perfect scenario to build a robot army. No one will complain about a robot being deployed to save lives. Deploy a few of them at first around the country. Then as they prove successful include one in each unit. Long term, create entire units of these machines, controlled by soldiers in front of computer screens. Our hybrid army is here.
I think it is safe to say that the longer the war goes on, the more this becomes a reality.
Okay, okay, I am done with my doomsday scenarios. I trust in us and our benevolent adavancement. I just wanted to make sure that we take a serious look at what is going on. Let’s not gloss over the fact the robots are going to soon kill people.
Enjoy the clip, and let me know if you felt as eery about it as I did. A fast action, interesting story about an armed robot, or a propaganda-like spin on machines that kill humans…
Well. The interesting question is: Will we loose fewer lives because robots will be pitched against robots, or will the militaries of the world be having their robots targeting humans?
To answer your question; there’ve already been deaths by robot — in Iraq — using the Reaper romote controlled attack planes.
Nonetheless; use of robotics have only recently begun paying off, it’s a young technology. I’m confident that there’ll be laid down some ground rules in the near future with regards to their usage.
Last but not least: The potential benefits of robotics, even innovations thought up in military research, immensely outweigh their darker uses at this point.
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