The robot revolution is upon us - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

The robot revolution is upon us

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Posted: Tuesday, March 4, 2008 10:34 pm | Updated: 11:18 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

You probably thought we had enough to worry about. Wrong. Dispatches from a conference in England indicate we should be worrying about killer robots.

“They pose a real threat to humanity,” University of Sheffield professor Noel Sharkey told the assembly.

There is already something of a robot arms race, with several countries, most notably our own, racing to develop heavily armed land robots and aerial drones that can take the war to the enemy while their controllers remain out of harm’s way.

With developments in artificial intelligence, the robots may not even need the controllers, although planners worry how to program the machines to appreciate the subtleties and nuances of the international laws of war and the Geneva Conventions.

One futurist projected that within a decade someone will deploy detachments consisting of 150 human soldiers and 2,000 robots armed with rockets, grenade launchers and heavy-caliber machine guns.

As attractive as the idea is of fighting wars by mechanical proxy, this gets us close to “Terminator” territory where the machines mutiny and come after us. But, as the conference attendees pointed out, the United States has more than 4,000 military robots in Iraq and numerous aerial drones, some armed with Hellfire missiles.

Some theorists worried that terrorists might get a hold of a military robot or drone and reverse engineer it to come back and attack us. Others said the technology was readily available to use robot-controlled light planes and even model aircraft as terrorist weapons.

Thanks for putting that thought in the wrong heads.

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