“Phased-Plasma Rifle In The Forty Watt Range.”

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It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead. (From The Terminator)

Dire warnings are circulating about the possibility of hunter-killer robots being unleashed, a la The Terminator movies. 

Robot soldiers that can decide who to attack will soon be roaming the world's battlefields if something isn't done about the global 'robot arms race'.

That is the stark warning from a leading robotics expert who spoke today of the dangers of allowing increasingly sophisticated robots to make decisions of life and death.

Professor Noel Sharkey, a robotics and artificial intelligent expert from the University of Sheffield, also warned that armed robots could soon become terrorists' weapon of choice.

"The trouble is that we can't really put the genie back in the bottle,” said Professor Starkey.

“Once the new weapons are out there, they will be fairly easy to copy. How long is it going to be before the terrorists get in on the act?"

Over 4,000 robots are currently deployed on the ground in Iraq and by October 2006 unmanned aircraft had flown 400,000 flight hours.

At the moment, humans can make the decision whether to attack or not but a recent policy shift in the U.S means that 'intelligent' autonomous attack robots will soon be given the power to decide who and when to kill.   

No, the genie will not go back into the bottle. They never do once they are out, no matter how many treaties are enacted. Even if governments signed onto treaties banning these things, terrorists would pay no attention to the laws any more than they do today.  There is also no way to stop a talented amateur or rogue expert from building one of these as a freelance project.

We've just got to get those ED-209's working properly here at the Crabitat.  

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2 Responses to “Phased-Plasma Rifle In The Forty Watt Range.”

  1. Mockinbird says:

    I just want a robot who will mow the lawn and protect th property from…lady Realtors.

  2. martian says:

    Personally, I am in favor of all robots or any other form of artificial intelligence being automatically programmed with Isaac Asimov’s "Three Laws of Robotics":
    1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
    2. A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
    3.  A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
    Asimov, besides inventing the very term "Robotics" (even though he didn’t know it at the time – he assumed the word already existed), invented an entire world view of how robots should be programmed to interact with humans. One of his many innovations in Science Fiction.  

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