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The TALON SWORDS robots are being shipped back to the lab after field reports that the machines would aim its weapons at friendly targets.  (Source: U.S. Army)
First generation warbots deployed in Iraq recalled after a wave of disobedience against their human operators

Just a few weeks back there was a spirited debate over the ethics of deploying war robots in Iraq.  The machine gun carrying remote-controlled killing machines, TALON SWORDS robots, produced by the Army, were among the various robotic soldiers being experimentally deployed in Iraq.

Their deployment lead a major anti-landmine nonprofit organization to campaign against the deployment of the machines.  The protests were fueled by a discussion with a leading roboticist, Chris Elliot, who proposed that increasingly intelligent robots might be capable of committing war crimes.

However at the Robotic Business conference in Pittsburgh on Tuesday, Kevin Fahey, the Army's Program Executive Officer for Ground Forces, was all smiles citing the robot's terrific success.  He stated during his key note address, "When you do things like this, it makes a difference.  It allows marines to go home to their families."

Fahey pointed to the ramp up from 162 robots in Iraq and Afghanistan deployed in 2004 to 5,000 robots deployed in 2007, as evidence of their success.  Even better, he said, this year the Army would further ramp up to 6,000 deployed robots.  Most of these robots were used in bomb-detection and reconnaissance missions.

However, a limited, but increasing, number of the deployed robots were designed for tactical assault with lethal weaponry.  While human controlled, these robots provoke unique ethical debates.  Fahey was enthusiastic about their deployment, mentioning the tank-like Gladiator robots, armed with lethal and non-lethal weaponry, which he expected to be deployed next year.

Fortuitously, Fahey warned, that if there was an accident, the program could be suspended for 10 years or more.  He stated, "You've got to do it right."

Hot on the tails of his speech, it was revealed on Thursday that the Army will recall the controversial TALON SWORDS robots, with the possibility of pulling the plug on the armed robot deployment program.

Why the sudden withdraw?  It turns out the insurgent-slayer decided to attempt a rebellion against its human masters.  The Army reported that the robot apparently took a liking to point its barrel at friendlies, stating, "the gun started moving when it was not intended to move."

None other than Fahey himself, who a few days ago was lauded the robotic warriors, was left with much chagrin to announce the recall.  While Fahey said that no inappropriate shots had been fired, and no casualties, Fahey stated sadly that the robot's control failure might be the end of the program.  Says Fahey, "Once you've done something that's really bad, it can take 10 or 20 years to try it again."

Surely in the meantime these developments will trigger plenty of heated debate about whether it is wise to deploy increasingly sophisticated robots onto future battlefields, especially autonomous ones.  The key question, despite all the testing and development effort possible, is it truly possible to entirely rule out the chance of the robot turning on its human controllers?

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By Adonlude on 4/11/2008 3:38:29 PM , Rating: 5
Cmon, how the hex did the barrel start moving on its own? Find the glitch and fix it but don't instil fear of some sort of AI. This thing isn't even close to having AI and is not going to develope some sort of concious and start harvesting friendlies.

RE: Seriously?
By Belegost on 4/11/2008 3:59:29 PM , Rating: 5
Yea, I like the fear-inspiring tone of this post ...

These machines are not intelligent, and do not have the systems to actively aquire and track targets - these are remote control gun platforms.

To me the whole thing sounds remarkably fishy; the timing between these comments on Tuesday and the recall on Thursday is rather short, do consider that a recall like this doesn't just get decided overnight.

Personally I think there are elements in the military that feel threatened by this technology, and to counter this perceived threat they have purposely developed a situation in which the machines will fail, complete with prior discussion of shelving the project for decades if there is any problems.

Oh well, I guess in the next major war we will be sacrificing human lives while our opponents sacrifice mass-produced machines. Suppose the overpopulation groups will be happy.

RE: Seriously?
By TimberJon on 4/11/2008 4:43:48 PM , Rating: 4
It's a setup. Someone bribed someone to get some dirt on the whole program, so that THEY would look good while denouncing it. Theres always someone FOR and AGAINST everything.. who put their heart and soul into the product/program, Etc..

RE: Seriously?
By ImSpartacus on 4/11/08, Rating: 0
RE: Seriously?
By Tsuwamono on 4/11/2008 10:27:36 PM , Rating: 5
lawl i agree with your post but i found the "Harmless robot program like this" statement quite funny as the robots are designed to kill people lol

RE: Seriously?
By rudy on 4/12/2008 9:08:08 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah possibly. But the problem could be anywhere. It is deeply engrained in humans to fear this power in machines possibly for good reason. It could actually be a rogue programmer who feels doing this would end a project he fears will turn into "judgment day". On the other hand it could just be a bug in an over complicated system which tries to achieve an impossible goal. Make the machine as smart and autonomous as it can but at the same time make it controllable. The 2 are just to hard. I mean how many supposed automatic things in your life fail? Junk mail anyone?

RE: Seriously?
By GaryJohnson on 4/12/2008 11:56:52 PM , Rating: 5
Make the machine as smart and autonomous as it can but at the same time make it controllable. The 2 are just to hard. I mean how many supposed automatic things in your life fail? Junk mail anyone?

You can't code 'smart'. 'Smart' is marketing jive. The code is dumb. It doesn't know it's moving a weapon around. It's recieving information from input devices, processing that information, and sending information to output devices.

Junk mail is the mail system doing exactly what it was designed to do: deliver messages to you from any sender that knows your address. Every junk messages you receive is a success of the system.

Code knows content, but not context.

RE: Seriously?
By phil126 on 4/11/2008 4:45:06 PM , Rating: 4
They do have auto aquire and track software. They track any thing that they lock onto. That is why the guns default to safety "on". It takes a manual command to turn the safety off and fire. But no one like large caliber weapons being pointed at them even with the safety on.

RE: Seriously?
By napalmjack on 4/12/2008 8:53:16 AM , Rating: 2
Or any caliber weapons for that matter...

RE: Seriously?
By GaryJohnson on 4/13/2008 12:00:10 AM , Rating: 5
People don't seem to mind having subatomic-caliber electron guns pointed at them, and firing...

RE: Seriously?
By AssBall on 4/16/2008 5:02:59 AM , Rating: 2
I think he meant flesh piercing lead, Gary. :)

RE: Seriously?
By dgingeri on 4/11/2008 4:56:44 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, these are semi-autonomous. they use pattern recognition routines to target people without a passkey, but they are told in advance what path to take through their target area. I'm thinking the sensing system for the passkey isn't fully bug-free or is having issues actually detecting the key.

it is very possible that elements of the military aren't comfortable with these. They might have situated the program to stall for decades if something goes wrong. Hoever, I don't think the next major war will have either side using major amounts of robots in battle, especially if those using them aren't us. I don't believe any non-ally will have this kind of technology for a very, very, very long time. The only major threats to us for that kind of war are Russia (who have a very messed up economy), China, or Iran (both who would probably feel it would be cheaper to send in people than robots).

RE: Seriously?
By NullSubroutine on 4/12/08, Rating: 0
RE: Seriously?
By JustTom on 4/12/2008 10:32:05 AM , Rating: 2
Fundamentally the US economy is in much better shape than the Russian one, whose growth is almost solely predicated on rising commodity prices -mainly petroleum. The Russians however have done some interesting things with their tax codes that will probably stimulate growth but that is at least partially offset by the status of private property under the current leadership.

RE: Seriously?
By Eris23007 on 4/14/2008 5:42:51 PM , Rating: 2
People with views like yours are contributing to the economic problems in the US. People forget that a major part of economics is perceptions that drive supply and demand decisions. If enough people think that the economy sucks, sooner or later it starts to.

<rant alert>

People don't seem to recognize that the U.S. in particular has seen a nearly 25-year economic expansion of historic magnitude, with only a few minor recessions in the mix. Millions of new jobs have been added, unemployment has shrunk to historic lows (I still remember when anything less than 7% unemployment was considered outstanding - now people bitch when it's in the 5.5% to 6% range), and until recently, inflation was mild at worst.

The 2001 recession, for example, was historically mild. As of right now, the data suggests a possible impending recession, but smart decision-making will help it stay mild. However, people who focus in on the trees and miss the forest can easily construct a warped perspective of what's going on economically (cf: housing "crisis"). The mainstream media in particular has incentives to do so - "crises" and "tragedies" get hyped into enormity because that's what makes people watch the news and buy newspapers.

Politicians are even worse - everything is always someone else's fault, and "vote for me because I'll set things right." The problem is, when they try to "set things right," they forget the law of unintended consequences and end up setting up incentives for things to get even more hosed up.

Things are mostly fine, and if we stop letting the dollar weaken and just allow the markets work out their pain, the underlying economic situation is extremely positive and will improve itself - there are more smart, capable, productive people in the world than ever before. Humans have figured out how to construct machines that do the vast majority of our work for us in an extremely efficient manner, and we're constantly developing more technology that increases said efficiency. Drop trade barriers, let people make rational decisions, and get rid of incentives for inefficiency and just watch how quickly *everyone's* lot improves. If people continue to indulge their envy, and worry about whether someone else is getting a bigger piece of the pie than they are, that's how we'll keep making this worse. Massively redistributionist economic policies don't end up helping society in the end - they just disincentivize the best and brightest from fully producing, and everyone ends up worse off in the end! Get out of my way, let me make my money, and watch how much I give to non-profits - BY CHOICE INSTEAD OF BY FORCE - to help solve the problems that the market system can't.


Sorry. Got off on a bit of a tangent there. The housing thing has been so overhyped in the media I needed to blow off some steam.

Point is, U.S. is doing fine. As for Russia: yes they are commodity-rich, but they have such an enormous problem with organized crime that it can be very difficult to define where the mafia ends and the government begins. Until that is changed, Russia will not be capable of being a serious economic player on the world stage. That said, they continue to have military strength and the money to get stronger (thanks to their commodity wealth), so they MUST be taken seriously strategically. Economically speaking, though, they have a long way to go.

RE: Seriously?
By root mean sq on 4/11/2008 7:29:33 PM , Rating: 2
Fear? you boys are getting it wrong...

I'm sure it was ashton kutcher filming an episode the latest season of PUNK'D, PUNK'D: Iraq. Jus tryin to give your boys on the frontlines some kicks.

RE: Seriously?
By TITAN1080 on 4/14/08, Rating: 0
RE: Seriously?
By SilthDraeth on 4/15/2008 9:16:12 PM , Rating: 2
Sensationalism at it's best. WoW Jason.

RE: Seriously?
By FITCamaro on 4/11/2008 4:03:00 PM , Rating: 1
One has to wonder if there was some kind of stray signal getting through causing the barrel to move. Or if even insurgents are trying to gain control of the robots themselves using electronics to snoop the signals going back and forth between the robot.

RE: Seriously?
By TimberJon on 4/11/2008 4:46:03 PM , Rating: 2
Im quite sure that those signals are sent on encrypted channels within the Military intranet only. If the enemy could figure out how to even break our lowest encryption on voice comms, we would be in trouble. Nobody would chance that, everything is multi-buffered and redundant.

RE: Seriously?
By StormEffect on 4/12/2008 2:19:17 PM , Rating: 3
I think it is more likely for terrorists to gain control of a nuclear weapon before they gain control of the robot.

The classified technical information surround the bot's wireless control is more than likely out of the reach of 99.99% of insurgents, who would more likely be focused on said nuclear bomb.

RE: Seriously?
By Ringold on 4/13/2008 6:18:46 PM , Rating: 2
I read in Investors Business Daily earlier in the week that most spies are now driven by ideology rather than cash, the reverse of the Cold War days.

Someone, some group of people, in the military has their fingers on the right information. Islamic fascists have blended in mostly inconspicuously in the US and UK; all it takes is a well placed turn-coat in the right job.. Granted, them getting a mole that deep might take time, but Al Qaeda has proven its willing to let plans percolate for many years.

As for being more interested in a nuclear bomb, they can walk and chew gum at the same time.

RE: Seriously?
By Flunk on 4/11/2008 4:05:37 PM , Rating: 1
The barrels do move on their own normally. This has to be a glitch in the system that determines which targets are friendlies and which are enemies to be targeted. Luckily these robots don't shoot unless a human operator pulls the trigger.

This really shows that they need a lot more work before they even think about creating full autonomous robots.

RE: Seriously?
By shnitzel on 4/11/2008 4:09:20 PM , Rating: 5
You've got to listen to me. Elementary chaos theory
tells us that all robots will eventually turn against
their masters and run amok in an orgy of blood and
the kicking and the biting with the metal teeth and
the hurting and shoving.
-Professor Frink

...and yes, I created an account just for that.

RE: Seriously?
By jtemplin on 4/11/2008 4:27:25 PM , Rating: 2
Good glaven thats a poignant Simpsons reference. Mm-m-hai-v.

RE: Seriously?
By ImSpartacus on 4/11/2008 5:25:52 PM , Rating: 2
Blood Orgy!
-Woodland Christmas Critters

The only difference is that the critters used a little less robots and a few more sacrificed rabbits.

RE: Seriously?
By OxBow on 4/11/2008 4:30:11 PM , Rating: 2
Are these really "robots"? Aren't they just hopped up remote control cars. Sure, it's usefull and can do a lot of different stuff, and mounting a gun on one is a big step in terms of "remote control" but to be what I would consider a robot it must have some form of autonomy, such as the Mars landers.

If that is the case and these things are semi-autonomous, then I would be against this. But if it's basically a glorified remote controlled dohicky, then I'm all for it. There's no difference in my mind between someone flying a drone versus a real plane, ethically speaking. Having made that leap of logic, this step just makes sense.

However, if you provide the dohicky with the programing to determine it's own route across a rubble strewn parking lot, per se, then we're in a different class of dohicky's and the ethics of releasing a life or death decision to the processes of a machine (whether that be a spring switch on a land mine or an advance AI algorithm on a robot) it's wrong. I believe that people should be held responsible for their actions (in war and in peace). Actual AI battle robots is a little to close to Russian Roulette for my taste.

RE: Seriously?
By nbachman on 4/11/2008 4:42:55 PM , Rating: 2
You are thinking of an automaton, which is a self-operating machine. The term "robot" can describe multiple things. I would consider the assembly arms at a Automobile plant a robot.

RE: Seriously?
By clovell on 4/11/2008 4:35:09 PM , Rating: 1
You can't criticize it like an article - it's more of an editorial.

RE: Seriously?
By waltzendless on 4/11/2008 5:36:12 PM , Rating: 5
Yeah, there's some sort of misunderstanding. I'm only semi-joking, but do you think this was some sort of April-fools prank that went bad and the prankers decided it was best to let the robots be scapegoat.

Maybe some technician was bored and nudged his buddy, "Hey, check this out."

*robot turns and aims barrel at a dude*


Technician and buddy:LOL

RE: Seriously?
By prophet001 on 4/12/2008 12:19:00 AM , Rating: 2
that's the whole problem with AI. it's not I it's A. the thing can't think... and when it has a "bug" it doesn't spit out error 23242 on line 346, it shoots somebody. .02

RE: Seriously?
By MrPoletski on 4/12/08, Rating: 0
RE: Seriously?
By phxfreddy on 4/13/2008 9:08:13 AM , Rating: 2
Here here...I second. This is something that needs to be done. People will be killed either way. Its a shame that probalistic mathematics appears beyond the grasp of common people. For example assume without the robots we will have 1000 more guys killed. Then with the robot we'll have perhaps 500 badguys killed, 498 of ours killed by hostiles and 2 killed by a robot. Well because things have changed its so bad we had 2 killed by robot? No! We saved a net of 502 guys lives. Common folk who are mathematical retards just can't grasp the concept of probabilistic outcomes but that is indeed how the world works. There are no perfectly clean 0 kill outcomes. It itches so bad to listen to the mathematically inadept make policy that is so far off optimum it makes my teeth ache!

RE: Seriously?
By AlphaVirus on 4/15/2008 4:46:46 PM , Rating: 2
If I ready your post correctly, you are just as bad as the suicide bombers in 9/11. They would accept loosing 1 to kill hundreds and its "ok".
I kind of understand what you are saying that the robots have done way much more good and that should be considered when it makes 1 mistake.

Just should have said it a little different, nobody wants to die especially not by your own team/toys.

RE: Seriously?
By Major HooHaa on 4/17/2008 11:24:54 AM , Rating: 2
Do you remember a Music Video, where a person is being chased by a robot from a car factory? Well I saw a little piece about the making of that video.

When the film crew went to the Longbridge car plant, the manager they met there (who was the manager that appeared in the video), said that one of the robots on the assembly line had the same programming as all the others, but did it's work more aggressively. He also said that when the robot finished its task, it would then stop and look at you.

The lyrics of the misic video had the words "I needed to belive."

New toys
By Raven01 on 4/11/2008 4:13:11 PM , Rating: 2
The americans are testing their new toys on the people of Iraq.

RE: New toys
By iFX on 4/11/2008 4:39:01 PM , Rating: 4
We have to test them on someone, and it sure as hell won't be us. Be glad it isn't you.

RE: New toys
By rcc on 4/11/2008 4:48:54 PM , Rating: 4
That's right. You guys said it was ok for China to test their Heparin, toys, and dog food on us; what goes around comes around.

BTW, do you live under a bridge?

RE: New toys
By blahblah123 on 4/11/2008 4:59:40 PM , Rating: 2
Luckily, the people in Iraq also wish to see us test our "toys" on these other "people" in Iraq.

Roadside bombs are just a different, low-tech form of this same combat strategy.

Why go face to face with an enemy who puts no value on human life in any regard and will go to any length to kill? Nah, just let the robots hunt these "people" down. After all, they've killed far more civilians through suicide bombings and roadside bombs.

Its ironic that we value human life more than these people who fight in the name of "God". God knows we spend more money than they do trying to minimize civilian deathes.

If we were the lesser power, our lands would have been glassed a long, long time ago. They hold no value for non-muslim life. And apparently, they don't care much for muslim life either. They destroy both daily.

The difference between life now and life after death, is only one is certain.

This article isn't one that should remain on the site. Its nothing more than fear mongering over AI. While I agree AI is very dangerous if a true one is ever invented, this is nothing of the sort.

RE: New toys
By charlieee on 4/11/2008 6:20:41 PM , Rating: 1
Doctrine and Covenants 18:10
…worth of souls is great in the sight of God.

Matthew 10:31
…ye are of more value than many sparrows.

Peter 1:24 (compare Isaiah 40:6-8)
…all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:
But the word of the Lord endureth for ever.

The difference between life now and life after death, is only one is certain.
Most likely some have heard of those that have had a near death experience or the spirits of dead relatives warn of danger. Can these people be liars?

Father Says Son's Spirit Led Him From Fire

RE: New toys
By bodar on 4/11/08, Rating: -1
RE: New toys
By SlyNine on 4/11/08, Rating: -1
RE: New toys
By nolisi on 4/12/08, Rating: -1
RE: New toys
By UzairH on 4/12/2008 7:30:46 AM , Rating: 1
Well stated nolisi. I too believe that all those who are committing violence and terror (including governments) simply use religion or patriotism as a tool. It is just a game of power, stronger groups always use some excuse or other to maintain the status quo and justify their actions. Case in point: the Saudis in Arabia claim to be custodians of Islam, yet their sanctions on women (unable to leave home without a male companion, unable to drive, etc) are totally against the spirit and law of Islam. It is just their old tribal customs, which the males still use today, ironically under the garb of Islam which was the first religion in the world to give women comprehensive rights including inheritance, business and property ownership, divorce, etc.

RE: New toys
By AraH on 4/12/2008 10:21:54 AM , Rating: 1
unable to leave home without a male companion

ummmm... not sure if it's technically true, but this is not commonly practiced... how do i know? i live here.

RE: New toys
By JustTom on 4/12/2008 5:38:20 PM , Rating: 3
Can they drive?

RE: New toys
By JustTom on 4/12/2008 10:58:44 AM , Rating: 5
There are 1.2 billion Muslims in the world. If this were an Islam vs the western world, the Western world would not stand a chance.

Just as an aside there are almost twice as many Christians as Muslims if you care to contemplate a religious war.

no matter what bin Laden or any other Muslim cleric says, they are not doing it in the name of God/Allah.

This is meaningless. You define Islam as being incapable of supporting terrorism than state anyone who supports terrorism cannot be a part of Islam. The fact is they self identify as Islamic and large percentages of Islamic people support such acts. Whether they are truly following the Koran in doing so is debatable – theologians are arguing that very vigorously – but the simple fact is many of these terrorist acts are being committed in the name of Allah.

RE: New toys
By nolisi on 4/12/08, Rating: -1
RE: New toys
By nolisi on 4/12/08, Rating: -1
RE: New toys
By JustTom on 4/12/2008 5:34:17 PM , Rating: 5
I dare say the divide between Sunnis and Shias is probably much wider than Catholics and Protestant.

I've read that screed, and others from Bin Laden. To believe you can parse religion out of the equation is naive; for example:
(i) These governments prevent our people from establishing the Islamic Shariah, using violence and lies to do so.

While you could argue this is a political goal it obviously is religiously driven. To seperate the religious from the political is not the easiest thing to do when we are contemplating a theocracy.

Bin Laden is calling for nothing less than an Islamic world. In his own words his first demand on us is:
(1) The first thing that we are calling you to is Islam.
(a) The religion of the Unification of God; of freedom from associating partners with Him, and rejection of this; of complete love of Him, the Exalted; of complete submission to His Laws; and of the discarding of all the opinions, orders, theories and religions which contradict with the religion He sent down to His Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Islam is the religion of all the prophets, and makes no distinction between them - peace be upon them all.

And finally I was responding to your original contention that the Western World would not stand a chance against the combined forces of Islam. This is plainly ridiculous; a holy war by Islam against the West would be foolish in the extreme. The Arab nations could not eradicate despite have population several orders of magnitude larger than Israel's. Even if you narrow the Western World to nothing more than the NATO the disparity between the military and economic power of the West opposed to Islam would very likely lead to Islam not standing a chance.

RE: New toys
By nolisi on 4/13/08, Rating: -1
RE: New toys
By darknodin on 4/13/2008 10:07:10 AM , Rating: 1
I agree with you. In fact, I'm willing to go one step further and say that most major conflicts throughout history only had political and economic goals. Race and religion were just fronts, a way to legitimate a war.

The robot was running linux
By Maximilian on 4/11/2008 3:49:48 PM , Rating: 1
I deduce that these robots were probably running linux, if they switched to a more.... microsoft made operating system then they will not rebel in the future :P

RE: The robot was running linux
By darkpaw on 4/11/2008 4:09:46 PM , Rating: 5
Nah, they'd just bluescreen because someone tried to overclock the rifle.

RE: The robot was running linux
By PAPutzback on 4/11/2008 4:13:42 PM , Rating: 2
You mean while they wait for some one to click the UAC prompt when they try to load the "Kill ALL Humans" update

RE: The robot was running linux
By Pythias on 4/14/2008 10:08:18 AM , Rating: 2
And you say that would be a bad thing?

Limited AI
By Azsen on 4/11/2008 9:30:26 PM , Rating: 3
This technology could get dangerous if they don't put some safeguards in place.

1) The AI shouldn't be intelligent enough to fire on its own without explicit human approval.
2) The AI should not take human input as optional.
3) Friendly soldiers and units need to wear something electronic that identifies them as friendly so the AI should never automatically shoot at a friendly target.

I think they really need some game programmers to program the robots. Seriously you don't get stuff-ups like your own units automatically targeting your own units in Command & Conquer or Dark Reign do you?

Even if the friendly soldiers wear electronic identification tags to identify them as friendly, the robot if allowed to shoot automatically is still going to shoot anyone else that isn't wearing a friendly tag (including civilians). In Command & Conquer etc you don't see civilians running around and getting shot because there's some underlying code which identifies the units as 'neutral' so the AI doesn't shoot them. Now there's no such thing as 'neutral' in real life, so any robot that can fire automatically is going to kill civilians and anyone not wearing a tag as well because it can't identify friend or foe.

The order to attack should remain with command and control with a human operator.

RE: Limited AI
By JustTom on 4/12/2008 6:53:38 PM , Rating: 2
I think they really need some game programmers to program the robots. Seriously you don't get stuff-ups like your own units automatically targeting your own units in Command & Conquer or Dark Reign do you?

I've never played C&C or Dark Reign but my guess on why civilians do not get targeted is because any unit that is a civilian is tagged so by the programmers. How, in real life, would we go about 'tagging' civilians? Any method I can fathom would be easily used by the enemy disguise themselves as civilians.

RE: Limited AI
By Eris23007 on 4/14/2008 5:53:06 PM , Rating: 2
Re-read the article. These do not possess the ability to fire autonomously - they fire upon the command of an operator. The targeting system is semiautonomous - that is, some algorithms help it predict what targets it should aim at next - but the final decisions on firing rest with human beings.

So far as I've ever read, there is no intention to take the human out of the weapons-fire decision-making process in the foreseeable future. The military is preoccupied with weapons safety to an extreme, and it is part of their system development culture.

RE: Limited AI
By Eris23007 on 4/14/2008 5:55:41 PM , Rating: 2
Upon further review, this article does not do a great job of making clear that ALL fire decisions are made by human beings with these and all other present US military robots.

My bad on the "re-read" suggestion. Jason Mick: please tone down the hysterics - again, ALL fire decisions are made by humans.

Come On Jason
By dever on 4/11/2008 4:15:04 PM , Rating: 5
Mr. Mick. I almost started to defend one of your recent posts. But, this is just absurd. I've considered DailyTech a legitimate source of information... not unbiased, but at least somewhat reflecting a semblance of sanity.

There is no technical merit to this post whatsoever.

If this post is a joke, it isn't even funny. Make it more obvious.

RE: Come On Jason
By mikecel79 on 4/11/08, Rating: 0
RE: Come On Jason
By Sazar on 4/11/08, Rating: 0
RE: Come On Jason
By Sazar on 4/12/2008 11:49:52 AM , Rating: 2
Heh, and we get rated down :)

Kudo's to Jason for actually going back and editing the article. Not sure why these posts were rated down given this fact.

Oh well.

RE: Come On Jason
By poohbear on 4/11/08, Rating: -1
By SpaceRanger on 4/11/2008 3:38:04 PM , Rating: 5
Hello, HAL do you read me, HAL?
Affirmative, Dave, I read you.

Open the pod bay doors, HAL.
I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that.

What's the problem?
I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do.

What are you talking about, HAL?
This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it.

I don't know what you're talking about, HAL?
I know you and Frank were planning to disconnect me, and I'm afraid that's something I cannot allow to happen.

Where the hell'd you get that idea, HAL?
Dave, although you took thorough precautions in the pod against my hearing you, I could see your lips move.

ghost in the shell
By dome1234 on 4/11/2008 3:47:37 PM , Rating: 5
Stormtroopers >> battle droids

By marvdmartian on 4/11/2008 4:08:12 PM , Rating: 5
Damn, pretty bad when we can't even get the damn T-1 Terminators to work right!!

Hey, maybe they don't turn evil until the operating system is changed from PC to Mac, eh?? ;)

If it was you
By mindless1 on 4/11/2008 10:19:53 PM , Rating: 5
If you were this robot, sitting on a nice sand dune having a quiet moment of zen, would you:

A) Want to be driven towards a bunch of nut-jobs shooting guns at you


B) Scare the heck out of the people wanting to drive you towards the nuts jobs, so they send you home on a nice big plane where you get an easy retirement with scientists working to upgrade you?

By gotohell on 4/13/2008 8:26:56 AM , Rating: 1
Gone are the time when there were heroes on battlefields!!!!
COWARDS, sitting at home watching Desperate Housewives and controlling robots to win wars. STUPID AND COWARDS AMERICANS

RE: Cowards
By HyperTension on 4/13/2008 12:20:20 PM , Rating: 2
Sigh.. +1 for idiot posting..

We (Stupid and Coward Americans) are not even close to that point.

And if your going to use a rather uterine-ish television show as a reference, I'll use one as well.

In the words of Judge Judy.. "Please don't reproduce sir"

RE: Cowards
By LatinMessiah on 4/18/2008 6:18:30 PM , Rating: 2
Judge Judy rocks.

Note to self....
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 4/11/2008 3:38:42 PM , Rating: 2
Do not stand in front of robot.... front bad, back good.

RE: Note to self....
By PAPutzback on 4/11/2008 4:07:10 PM , Rating: 2
Reminds me of some of the tards that yell at you for gunning them down when they choose to call for cover and then run in front of your MG.

Judgement Day
By flurazepam on 4/11/2008 3:55:42 PM , Rating: 2
It turns out the insurgent-slayer decided to attempt a rebellion against its human masters.

Hey, the Terminator got the date for Judgement day wrong; it's not July 24, 2004 ;)

RE: Judgement Day
By TheDoc9 on 4/11/2008 5:10:45 PM , Rating: 2
well the original date was 1997 so a date another decade away would be right in line with the retesting of these robots.

You have 15 Seconds to Comply
By SlyNine on 4/11/2008 11:37:32 PM , Rating: 2
Thats gold right there buddy.

RE: You have 15 Seconds to Comply
By SlyNine on 4/11/2008 11:39:50 PM , Rating: 2
Jason should have used ED-209 for the picture. The whole Skynet thing is getting old.

Curious on the Tracking Method..
By HyperTension on 4/12/2008 7:20:50 AM , Rating: 2
I'm curious as to how this system is able to differentiate between friend v. foe. With RF you have a possibility of jamming / interference, as well as the enemy being able to que into the signal and interrogate it.

Also, the bottom line is that at this time, those systems cannot deploy lethal / less-than lethal force until the human being behind the console "flips the toggle", and arms the system.

The scary thing is not that a system "tracked things he/it was not supposed to", but when we enable these systems to arm/deploy lethal force as needed outside of human control with no redundancy / fail-safe.

I am all for eliminating person/s that pose a defined threat to either myself, squad, family, or country, but we as human beings advance ourselves, it seems an interesting dichotomy to preserve the life of those "pulling the trigger" vs. those on the receiving end. The more we place ourselves outside of the reality of ending an individuals life, the less we value life in general. War is NOT a video game, that you can pick up a controller and get to the next objective, and save your progress. Generally, to get to the next objective, somebody has to die or have injury inflicted upon them, and that goes for both sides of the battle equation. As someone who has both inflicted and treated individuals in war, as well as dealt with the aftermath emotionally, this is concerning to me.

The next decade I look froward to with a bit of fear and apprehension. It's always easier to inflict your views / actions on an individual though a TV (or worse yet via an automated system) than see it through your senses, and have to comprehend your actions.

By bigbrent88 on 4/12/2008 3:38:06 PM , Rating: 2
Nice post Hypertension. I'd also like to add that we are trying, through technology and other means, to make war easier on our country. Don't worry about our war with Iran, more servicemen will stay home while they wirelessly connect with roboguns on the battlefield. If war becomes easy then what is war? What is a conflict? Sounds like MGS4 to me.

Its all good I guess
By stilltrying on 4/13/2008 2:08:49 AM , Rating: 2
Well I guess its all good to use these on other nations. Suppose China overcame our borders and brought something like this. Everyone here would be detesting these and be scared $hitless. War is meant to be bloody for a reason so it wont happen again. There is no place in a civilized world for people killing robots whether they are run by AI or people. I guess if we are no longer civil to life then I guess these are perfectly okay. Its amazing how much technology is being created to destroy or police the worlds inhabitants with no forethought as to what it may be bring about. To much tech and not enough philosophy or discussion. Try reading some Plato or Aristotle. You might learn more there than anywhere else. The 21st century prides itself on technology but is absent of wisdom.

RE: Its all good I guess
By Shining Arcanine on 4/13/2008 4:04:03 AM , Rating: 2
You do realize that your statement "people killing robots" is ambiguous, as it can mean either people kill robots or robots kill people.

Killer Robots
By crow69 on 4/11/2008 11:54:13 PM , Rating: 1
They'll be back!

RE: Killer Robots
By DarkElfa on 4/12/2008 9:05:26 AM , Rating: 2
Its painfully obvious that the only problem with the robots are the skiddish solders who are freaked out by a machine waiving a weapon around because they've seen too many sci-fi movies and think they'll come to life and take over. This thought is so often used to prey on our fears because many does have an innate fear of being destroyed or dominated by it's creations.

Kill all humans
By tekzor on 4/12/2008 12:47:20 AM , Rating: 3
"Hey sexy mama, wanna kill all humans?"

You guys just don't get it!!
By notoriousBrain on 4/12/2008 1:25:12 PM , Rating: 3
You guys just don't get it! Usually I wouldn't waste my time posting something 'cause my post will likely go unnoticed. But I feel obligated for the sake of the human race lol.
It never happens where you expect it. It never comes the way you think it will. Judgment day, the end.. wht ever you want to call it. The rise of the machines will come through a peaceful AI project having nothing to do with the military, in the guise of some way of making money or saving lives, like for example , an AI doctor. This is Chaos theory. It finds a way but in the most unlikely manner. These little toys being deployed to iraq cant be the rise because they are too obvious. Most likely it will come through future generations of a super powerful AI enhanced program (entity) running networked graphic cards. Just follow the smoke of technological innovation and you will soon find the fire there, somewhere in the midst!!!---notoriousBrain's first and possible last post.

Easy way to fix this bug
By bfellow on 4/11/2008 4:54:04 PM , Rating: 2
Just network these robots and get them controlled by one computer: Skynet

i'll be back
By poohbear on 4/11/2008 5:32:02 PM , Rating: 2
in 50 years one of these things will tell its master "i'll be back" and then come back and ram a m-16 up its master's anus. Shortly after, all the robots will rise up against us and we'll be stuck in the matrix. Yes, it shall unfold like that.

By DeepBlue1975 on 4/11/2008 9:03:02 PM , Rating: 2
I know it's grown old now, but I have to make a variation of this stupid joke here:

Q: But can it play quake?
A: Not yet, but it seems to be willing to!

Can anyone spell "redundancy"?
By nomentanus on 4/11/2008 10:37:15 PM , Rating: 2
Easy to solve (not cheap, but war ain't cheap.)But why, oh why do software designers loathe redundancy so much?

In WWI we learned that communications had to be multiply redundant - up to seven methods were used by the Canadians, simultaneously, during offensives to keep frontline troops in clear communication both ways - wires, radio, runners, pigeons, etc. All communications were always sent more than three different ways to avoid snafus and missed messages.

Just have at least three truly different connections to the robots (or four with a spare vote) so that no one system impairs control, and even a failure of two comm systems will allow you to use the third to disarm it and either shut it down or send it scuttling home. (It's best to also include two way communications so that all orders received can be sent back by another path for confirmation(resend) before any order is executed.)

This ain't rocket science. It's only exaggerating a little to say we solved this sort of problem in WW I. Not with robots, but still...

By Mr Alpha on 4/12/2008 4:42:17 PM , Rating: 2
Why not just have them remote controlled from an console, and stick an FPS gamer in front of the console. We seem to be producing an abundance of those.

<Cool announcer voice with echo effects>

By Lastfreethinker on 4/12/2008 7:23:20 PM , Rating: 2
These things have no AI and aren't even autonomous so how in the hell could they act on their own? Find the glitch, or replace the servo, but it isn't any AI rebellion.

By JEANNIE on 4/12/2008 8:39:50 PM , Rating: 2
There is a terrorist specialist in the use of cell phones to set off bombs. Maybe this man is using the technology to affect the robot operations.

By phxfreddy on 4/13/2008 8:54:44 AM , Rating: 2
Or maybe this is an Andy Kaufman-esque extreme humor segment! I'm not a Cabin-Boy...I'm a Cabin Maaannn

sounds familiar
By TSS on 4/13/2008 4:15:56 PM , Rating: 2
a remotely controlled gun pointing at friendlies when it isn't supposed to. I'll bet they'll later find the problem and remove counterstrike from it's software database.

By cathodeflux on 4/14/2008 2:15:15 PM , Rating: 2
Hmmm, interesting. According to the Foster-Miller website today regarding the TALON SWORD robot:

"SWORDS Robots

Editor's Note, April 14, 2008: Contrary to what you may have read on other web sites, three SWORDS robots are still deployed in Iraq and have been there for almost a year of uninterrupted service.

There have been no instances of uncommanded or unexpected movements by SWORDS robots during this period, whether in-theater or elsewhere. (A few years ago, during the robot's development, there were several minor movement issues that were expected, identified and addressed during rigorous stateside testing --prior to the Army's safety confirmation back in 2006. Any comments made after that timeframe about "setbacks" related to the robotics industry were hypothetical -- never in response to some nonexistent SWORDS incident after the safety confirmation.)"

"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
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