Friday, November 19, 2010

Robot soldiers

Robot soldiers are coming.

This seems to me to add insult to injury. Imagine sitting peacefully over dinner with your family in your village in some country which has some resource that a bigger country wants, and in runs two hundred robots and kill men, women, and children. Very "nice". Really underlines the tone of the whole thing.

Sure, it'll take years before robots can do this, and until it happens, they will always claim to critics that the robots will be used for other things.  But history shows that anything that can kill people will be used to kill people, mainly in war.

One of the rare Danish SF writers, Niels E. Nielsen, wrote a spooky, but excellent book, "Vogteren" or "Vartija" in translation. Well, I was a kid when reading it, but it made an impression on me, especially the central idea which is a "war" waged mainly by automatons, which are moving in one long line (never mind the doability of this) southwards across Africa, and with lasers killing everybody and everything bigger than a field mouse. I think it's a striking image of the inhumanity at the heart of war.


Bruce said...

I think that the vanguard in intelligent war machines is not happening in human shaped robots, but in other areas.

1. If you are going to spend money on a robot, why not make it fly? Pilotless planes that have weapons are getting more and more intelligent. Some can land themselves without a human operator's help. Some of these drone planes are small enough to fit in a soldier's backpack.

2. The DARPA Challenge. A self driving car. What the military is really looking for here is a truck carrying supplies that can drive itself and also defend itself without having any people on board.

Right now you have a human operator back in the homeland directing the fire of the drone planes. Presumably an automatic supply truck would have cameras with human operators directing the fire of weapons. I don't read much about giving planes or trucks autonomy in who and what they shoot at. But people have to be thinking about it.

Anna said...

and that robot soldier would have a Mickey Mouse face gigantic empathic eyes to make your death softer

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Ah yes, wonderful touch. The toddlers would go "Eeee, hahaha, Mickey! heheh, gogogle Hrrerjererhhh- splut splut splut".

Funny enough I just finished the latest season of a great British comedy show called Ideal, where one of the characters is a psycho killer named Cartoon Head. He is wearing a mouse mask 24/7. Not Mickey though, I'm sure they couldn't get away with that.
People meet him and say: "Oh hi CH. You look well."

Anna said...

haha :)