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Soldier launching UAV  (Source: Sgt. 1st Class Michael Guillory, U.S. Army)
Robots with ethics could one day be used on the battlefield

The United States military continues to invest heavily into robotic technology, as the newer generations of robot-based soldiers will be programmed to understand battlefield ethics.

According to an article in the Army Times, the so-called 'ethical robots' would follow international laws.  Ronald Arkin, from the Mobile Robot Laboratory at the Georgia Institute of Technology, wrote a book to discuss the future of robotics.

In "Governing Lethal Behavior in Autonomous Robots," Arkin claims robotics, if programmed correctly, have numerous advantages over human ground troops.  Robots are emotionless , expendable, and can be customized for specific missions.  

It's possible the robots could be taught remorse, compassion and guilt, but exact senses the robots would be programmed with are still unknown.  Furthermore, depending on the determined level of guilt, and the mission being carried out, the firepower and effectiveness of weapons used will change.

The robots could also be used to monitor soldiers to ensure international treaties are being followed by U.S. and coalition ground troops.  Although many soldiers don't want to be monitored in such an intrusive manner, several high-profile cases of abuse and murder have further blemished the military's image among locals in Iraq.  

If funding is properly allocated for the research, it could be available in 10 to 20 years.  As the U.S. continues to fight wars using enhanced technology, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and other unmanned resources have become popular alternatives to launching manned missions -- and is expected to further increase in the future.



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By atlmann10 on 12/30/2009 1:45:31 AM , Rating: 2
This is where were headed for sure. One thing I don't think the general public at least will understand on this is the facts. They will think of terminators or I-robots flipping out. While this could in general I guess come to fruition, these specific machines will be programmed with direct responses to any situation. However; as the Marine points out, if an air surveillance/reconnaissance vehicle can be hacked with 30 dollar software, where would that leave something like this? His point of having something like this active in the field for whatever purpose with weaponry of any kind attached would be unnerving at the least. So therefore they have to make something that can make it's own decision at least to some degree, and that's where it becomes frightening (at least in the Terminator/I-robot sense of the issue) really.




By rampholeon on 1/4/2010 1:15:50 PM , Rating: 2
Well, the first thing I did upon finding this news, was to search the text of comments for "terminator". Ethical autonomous killing machines, shudder. Better find an ecological niche for them quickly. Maybe they could police predation of penguins by polar bears in the antarctic ?


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