All the news that's fit to assimilate[ Home | Blogs | Events | Robots | Humans | Projects | Podcasts | About | Account ]
I think that pdf is fascinating. If I had a penny for every time Ive mentioned Im do robotics to somebody and they turn around and say "by developing that technology you are trying to kill people", I'd be rich!
I used to work in bomb disposal and I never had a moral problem with that. However I have never been too sure about the concept of purposely built to kill.
from a moral standpoint, building military robots that only target machines might be the way best forward for that sort of technology.
At the moment I suspect that the technology is not quite able to reliability discriminate between enemy combatants (IR heat signature, movement, etc) and bystanders/friendlies in close quarters. We are limited to attacking everything and anything that moves (land mines, Korean sentry robot, AMRAMs) or looks "suspicious" (guided cluster submunitions, ...).
However, well before the end of this century I suspect that the tables will have turned. Where war is unavoidable it might possibly be conducted by lightning-fast autonomous vehicles that not only could be much more accurate and reliable than humans, but will also probably have a decided edge because of response times that are thousands or millions of times faster.
And the whole concept of hunting and killing could be primarily a biological strategy that might not make much sense from the perspective of intelligent machines that might feel as threatened by us as we are by slugs...
I can't imagine anyone having a moral problem with building bomb disposal robots.
Initially, I CAN imagine having a moral issue with building machines that are made to kill other humans, but it doesn't seem to be any different than making any machine for that purpose. A gun would be an example. The ultimate responsibility must remain with the person directing the use of the machine, whether it be a gun, a baseball bat, or a robot. I don't see any way or reason to make a separate category for robots. If we do, then how do we define robot - has a microprocessor, a sensor, an actuator? Modern bulldozers have all of those components. Robots should be lumped together with all other machines, smart and dumb, for the sake of this discussion.
Thinking this through to it's logical conclusion, I can't help but wonder if distant-future wars will be totally virtualized. The side with the best programmers and fastest mouse clicking wins! I doubt it though.
I think the difference is that a bulldozer, classic Ted Sturgeon stories aside, doesn't act autonomously. If a robot is acting autonomously, it means, by definition, there is no one "directing the use of the machine". You could compare an autonomous robot to something like a cruise missle but that's a very primitive example. In fact, Canning uses the cruise missle and the autonomous Vulcan anti missle gun as example of precursers to armed autonomous robots.
Making a distinction based on autonomous operation is troublesome. We could claim a Rube Goldberg machine was autonomous, yet we should still place complete responsibility for the machine's actions on the person directing it. Not the machine, not the creators, not the farmers who feed the directors, etc.
I'm trying to avoid the problem of putting the responsibility on a machine and not on the human directors where it rightfully belongs. I want to see the responsibility for a machine's actions pass directly to the humans involved in controlling the machine, regardless of the technology used.
We don't want the automated lawn mowers of the future to be viewed by the public as a potentially dangerous, independent, moral agent. We DO want them concerned about a hacker who gains control of it.
A Rube Goldberg machine is automated, not autonomous. Both automated and autonomous machines act without human intervention but, beyond that, the words have almost opposite meanings. An automated machine acts without volition or conscious control. It has a director. It is incapable of directing its own actions. An autonomous machine is self-directed. Its actions are not directed by a human.
You and I are autonomous but not automated. We are self-directed. Historically non-meat-based machines have been automated but not autonomous. As this changes, we'll be seeing more stories about these sorts of issues.
War machines help you win wars. You know, when a war starts, just about anything goes. We hold back with big stuff like biological and neuclear weapons because we figure we can win without them. If we figured we were losing or the other side starts using them then we'll pull out those big guns too. I mean, we could just nuke the other side and get the war over with if world opinion would let us, but that's not kosher so we shoot little pretty bullets at the other side and it takes a little longer instead.
Robot war machines are the same. We pull out the tame ones right now that just do recon or remote missle shooters because that's what we can get away with in world opinion. If we were backed against the wall, though, we might unleash something more contraversial and deadly. I mean, we'd have nasty, gruesome robots operational already if it were ok with everyone.
After a war is over, war trials and tribunals are held for the loser. So if the loser was the one with the war robots, then we will see that robots will be a problem ethically as evil machines made by evil doers. If the winner is the one who has the robots, then the robots will be hailed as the helpers of all mankind to rid the earth of evil doers, regardless of how gruesome or nasty the robots may be.
Steve Taylor: ...in Modern Ethics 101. First day learn why ethics really don't apply...
2012 Top 10 Robot Christmas Gift Ideas
DARPA Robotics Challenge Kick Off
2012 ASABE Robot Contest Photos
Interview with David L. Heiserman
David Anderson on Subsumption Robots
Review: Apocalyptic AI by Robert M. Geraci
Raspberry Pi Interview with Eben Upton
2012 VEX Robotics World Championship
Giant Dallas Robot Cited as Best Public Art
There's More Than One Way to Skin a Robot
Day of the Androids at Hanson Robotics
Apocalyptic AI by Robert M. Geraci
Robotics Programming 101
Pololu 3pi: the 10,000 Mile Review
Unofficial LEGO Mindstorms NXT Guide
Machinima Review: Stolen Life
i-ROBOT Poetry by Jason Christie
The Definitive Guide to Building Java Robots
Microbric Viper Kit
Introduction to Autonomous Mobile Robots