Friday, August 12, 2011

Autonomous Robots for War (seems like a bad idea)

IEEE Spectrum talking about the possibility of robots being used for war:

The entire idea of war being a Bad Thing aside, why do we keep blindly rushing toward Robot Apocalypse (yes, this is a theme for me)?  It would be easier to handle if the experts were considering the possibilities, but they are not.  Text from the article linked above shows that the author is entirely too dismissive of the possibilities.

I've been working with robots for more than two decades, starting with underwater vehicles, then moving to air and ground vehicles, and most recently addressing collaborations among robots like those we demonstrated at the Robotics Rodeo. I can attest that while robots are definitely getting smarter, it is no easy task to make them so smart that they need no adult supervision. And call me a skeptic, but I doubt they'll be cloning themselves anytime soon.

OK, I get it. You write for IEEE Spectrum, you are smart.  However, sometimes the consequences are so bad that they need to be taken seriously even if they are unlikely (think expected value and black swans). 

Also, there is all kinds of research being done right now on machines that can repair themselves (I blogged about this here back in January), so I think that this is something that we really should start taking more seriously.

Good grief.

Doesn't anybody read Philip K. Dick anymore?  Second Variety should scare you enough to know better, and that was published in May 1953.