February 17, 2005
This Is Going to Suck
Yeah. So. Robot army of the future:
Robots in battle, as envisioned by their builders, may look and move like humans or hummingbirds, tractors or tanks, cockroaches or crickets. With the development of nanotechnology they may become swarms of “smart dust.” The Pentagon intends for robots to haul munitions, gather intelligence, search buildings or blow them up.
“The lawyers tell me there are no prohibitions against robots making life-or-death decisions,” said Mr. Johnson, who leads robotics efforts at the Joint Forces Command research center in Suffolk, Va. “I have been asked what happens if the robot destroys a school bus rather than a tank parked nearby. We will not entrust a robot with that decision until we are confident they can make it.”
Let me just say, for the record, that I am so not excited about “swarms of ‘smart dust’ ” doing our bidding on the battlefield.
Robot soldiers in general, though: I’m actually torn. On one hand, fewer people in wars = good. On the other hand, robot soldiers. Also, it seems like it would be easy for government to carry on cruel wars of oppression with robot soldiers, you know?