Friday, February 29, 2008

Who's a clever boy then?

Remember this post, about Robots at war?

Well, earlier this week Robotics professor Noel Sharkey (see an article he wrote back in August here) gave a speech in which he discussed the proliferation of robotic military equipment:
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.
(Appologies for linking to the Daily Mail)

Significantly, though, his concern is the falling cost of robotics manufacture - precisely the point I made about capitalism cheapening the means of production, including the production of death. AP report him saying
"How long is it going to be before the terrorists get in on the act? With the current prices of robot construction falling dramatically and the availability of ready-made components for the amateur market, it wouldn't require a lot of skill to make autonomous robot weapons."

Sharkey said a small GPS-guided drone with autopilot could be made for about 250 pounds.
Another report of this speech notes:
In December 2007, the DOD published an “Unmanned systems roadmap” proposing to spend about $4 billion by 2010 on robotic weapons, a figure that will later rise to about $24 billion.
Sharkey suggests a code of ethics for robots - I'd have thought calling for development of electronic counter measures to fritz the robot brains would be a wiser bet, a drone with GPS deprived of its GPS isn't very useful.

Finally, the Official Propaganda - see, there is a career in videogames. They're not people, their mooks!

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