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BAE Systems Black Knight   (Source: Defense Update)
BAE Systems' Black Knight is a formidable weapon for the battlefield

In early October, DailyTech brought you the story of Foster-Miller's MAARS (Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System). The MAARS followed in the footsteps of previous battlefield robots like the REDOWL PakBot and the SUGV Early.

The 300-pound MAARS, on the other hand, brought serious firepower and technology to the table. The MAARS features a M240B Medium Machine Gun and uses GPS tracking to reduce the risk of friendly fire.

While the MAARS is an impressive piece of machinery, BAE Systems is taking battlefield robots to the next level with its Black Knight. The Black Knight is a semi-autonomous 9.5 ton tank based on the Bradley fighting vehicle.

The Black Knight can be controlled from the traditional commander's station or by remote control via the Dismounted Control Device (DCD). Due to its advanced programming, the Black Knight can also autonomously plan routes and avoid obstacles without user intervention.

When it comes to the Black Knights armament, human intervention is required to fire rounds (thankfully). Considering that the Black Knight is armed with a 30mm gun and a coaxial machine gun, it's good to know that this tank won't be rolling around firing at anything that moves.

BAE Systems detailed how admirably the Black Knight performed during a demonstration in early 2007.

"While the Bradley Technology Demonstrator was engaging an enemy target from cover in a support by fire position, the Black Knight was able to autonomously move to a covered position and observe the target, using its sensor package to provide battle damage assessment data back to the Bradley," explained BAE Systems.

"If the enemy target needed to be re-engaged, the Black Knight could effectively neutralize the target, but the command to fire would always be made by a remote Soldier and only after the data necessary to make positive identification is received."

It may be years before such potent machinery is available for use on actual battlefields, however.

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RE: Playing with fire
By Master Kenobi on 11/8/2007 12:20:28 PM , Rating: 3
Hollywood plays on people's fears about machines because it sells tickets. Using something like "The Matrix" or "Terminator" as an example is rediculous.

People complain that during a war it's unacceptable to have people die. Well, hate to break it to you but that's what happens in war, people die accept this and move on. The military is moving towards Unmanned boats, trucks, tanks, airplanes, recon aircraft, satellites, etc.... We are further removing people from the front lines to curb loss of life so people stop complaining. At the same time of course the reality is that machines can outperform a human at tasks if they are designed for it (Think 12g acceleration and banking turns). Now people complain that the reliance on machines to fight will cause them to turn on us and take over. Ok, so here are your options, deal with letting the machines do the grunt work in the battle, or stop complaining when people die. Those are your options, there are no others.

RE: Playing with fire
By masher2 on 11/8/2007 12:49:13 PM , Rating: 5
Despite what some people believe, war has steadily been becoming more civilized, and less calamitous to human life. A few centuries ago, soldiers took their pay directly from civilians populations...the phrase, "rape and pillage" had real meaning. If you were a civilian anywhere around enemy (or sometimes friendly) forces, you were due to be murdered, have all your goods stolen, your wives and daughters raped, and your children sold into slavery.

By the time of WWI/2, civilians were largely insulated from the direct effects of war. Though millions still died from indirect effects resulting from displacement, starvation, disease, it was nothing to the hundreds of millions who would have died had these wars been fought by the methods of earlier times. (And yes, I include Dresden/Hiroshima/etc in this...I did say "largely", after all).

Desert Storm showed us a new kind of war, where even the combatants themselves could be largely insulated from harm. The real war was won with near-zero casualties on the US side and, had Iraq been smart enough to realize when they were beaten, almost the same on the Iraqi side. Once your air and c&c infrastructure is destroyed, there's little point in slogging it out.

With machines like the one above, I can see a future when wars are fought without deaths on either side. When your robot forces are defeated, you simply throw up your hands and surrender...realizing how useless it would be continue in a "conventional" manner.

RE: Playing with fire
By Master Kenobi on 11/8/2007 12:59:17 PM , Rating: 2
I concur completely.

RE: Playing with fire
By Darkskypoet on 11/8/2007 2:56:39 PM , Rating: 3
I disagree wholeheartedly. In case you haven't noticed, no two major powers have fought anything other then satellite wars since WW2. In fact, I'd hazard to guess that we more then likely won't see another major power war for quite some time. (Economic collapse, or threat thereof being the only thing possibly dragging a certain missile shield toting Hegemon into one.)

So in essence, eventually the US / EU / Russia / China, won't have to worry about a Mogadishu line scenario if sacking a small state. However, said small state will have to fight humans to robots, much like they do currently in the suicide bomber vs smart bomb era of asymmetrical warfare.

Also, its a damn fine way to make sure that every goddamn satellite you own in the sky is taken down. Considering technology proliferation, It would not surprise me if states subject to such attacks simply started popping satellites. Considering that other states will want to counter such remote attacks as they are not stupid and realize just what lack of body bags can do to embolden a democracy (sane or not) in terms of warfare.

So again, I wholeheartedly disagree. The nations fielding such tech more then likely will not fight each other as they have no economic incentive to do so, and the conceivable powers that might achieve such a level of automation already possess the very powerful nuclear deterrent.

In essence, they will be used on small states, in small wars, that never seem to turn out right for any of the major powers. (Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanastan1, Afghanastan2, etc) Considering how bad the Major powers are at fighting Asymmetrical wars in person, I doubt their abilities to do so at range will be any better. Furthermore, bots don't win hearts and minds, much the same as carpet bombing B52's don't either.

RE: Playing with fire
By joust on 11/9/2007 12:54:13 AM , Rating: 5
If we don't develop this technology, someone else will beat us to it and we'll find ourselves at a comparative disadvantage.

Even if we say we're not developing new military technologies they might not believe us. Regardless, who wouldn't like to seize the upper hand? You get buffer states, security, a nice place in the world hierarchy, etc.

When are wars more likely? When one side will utterly crush the other, or when the two are evenly matched? Countries are rational and when it's obvious they'll lose, they won't go to war. If one thinks it has a fighting chance, then, well... you know what might happen.

I hope the US never loses it's dominance in my lifetime, if only to avoid seeing a hegemonic war. Hegemonic wars are the BIG wars. They reorder the hierarchy of nations and occur when a hegemon loses power. If/when the US loses hegemonic power, it'll be a brutal struggle, on the order of World Wars I or II.

To avoid seeing such a war, a realistic pacifist ought to be in favor of keeping our armed forces so strong nobody will challenge us. It's not merely a matter of patriotism, not ideology, not arrogance that drives this, but rational, logical decision making.

RE: Playing with fire
By Oregonian2 on 11/8/2007 1:32:06 PM , Rating: 2
Or could go one step further and have the war be a computer simulation, and then when a casualty is "calculated" the person has to report to a death chamber to be eliminated. Of course, if we get to that point we are subject to a Federation starship coming by and putting a stop to it, making massive deaths come back on purpose. As has been done once before. :-)

RE: Playing with fire
By Ajax9000 on 11/8/2007 6:30:20 PM , Rating: 2
Brian W. Aldiss "The Dark Light Years" had a subplot about match-play war (for want of a better term).

RE: Playing with fire
By stryfe on 11/29/2007 1:57:00 AM , Rating: 2
Of course that's only if their Captian were to ignore the Prime Directive and we all know that never happens ;)

RE: Playing with fire
By rcc on 11/8/2007 1:36:01 PM , Rating: 3
I agree.

What concerns me though, is that by taking the direct impact (loss of life) out of war, particularly if it's only on one side, the people and leaders become insulated from the reality that is war. It's a mixed blessing, and one that I'm sure has been argued from the advent of the first ranged weapons.

I don't want any more of our boys to get killed than is necessary. However, I'd also hate to see someone in control of a remote controlled platoon wipe out a village because he could, and because it had no real impact on him or his people.

RE: Playing with fire
By masher2 on 11/8/2007 2:06:42 PM , Rating: 3
But historically, the "realities of war" have never stopped leaders from engaging in them. In fact, I would argue this new style of war may make leaders even less likely to engage in them.

When only robots are destroyed, it means the impact is felt economically, rather than in human life. Starting a war therefore means a hit on your own personal pocketbook, rather than the death of someone else's sons and daughters.

RE: Playing with fire
By TomZ on 11/8/2007 2:48:36 PM , Rating: 2
But the problem with that idea is that the money doesn't come out of the decision maker's pocketbook. And it is clear that politicians in general have very few qualms or reservations about spending taxpayer dollars.

In fact, I would argue that the notion of restraining spending on the part of the federal government has completely gone out the window. I can't even think of the last time that I heard some new spending proposal put down simply because it costs too much. Such proposals only seem to get stopped based on some other principle, e.g., not wanting to spread government-funded health insurance into the middle class.

RE: Playing with fire
By masher2 on 11/8/2007 2:53:53 PM , Rating: 1
> "But the problem with that idea is that the money doesn't come out of the decision maker's pocketbook"

For a small war, no. For a large-scale conflict, it does, if that person has any investments or financial holdings at all. More importantly, it comes out of the pockets of those who finance and contribute to political campaigns. Take a look at Iraq, for instance. I seriously believe there's been more complaint about the cost of the war, rather the number of US troops actually killed there.

RE: Playing with fire
By TomZ on 11/8/2007 3:04:45 PM , Rating: 2
Well, you might be right, but I seriously doubt that, for example, Bush has been personally affected one bit by the Iraq war.

And I'm not sure I agree on the cost vs. casualties point either. I'm personally outraged by the cost of the Iraq war both in human terms and dollar terms, and I think a lot of other people are too.

RE: Playing with fire
By Darkskypoet on 11/8/07, Rating: -1
RE: Playing with fire
By James Holden on 11/8/07, Rating: -1
RE: Playing with fire
By TomZ on 11/8/2007 4:05:43 PM , Rating: 2
The U.S. gets its oil from Canada, not Iraq.

That's not true. The US gets oil from Canada, yes, but it also gets a lot from Iraq as well as a number of other countries in the Middle East:

RE: Playing with fire
By James Holden on 11/8/07, Rating: 0
RE: Playing with fire
By TomZ on 11/8/2007 7:54:03 PM , Rating: 2
Didn't you write an article about rising oil prices due to refinery constraints?

If you're replying to my post, then I would answer "no." I haven't written any articles for DT.

RE: Playing with fire
By Ringold on 11/8/2007 3:39:27 PM , Rating: 2
You probably can't substantiate hardly of any of that, but feel free to try.

RE: Playing with fire
By rcc on 11/8/2007 6:13:06 PM , Rating: 2
You know how it goes, it's far more fun to fling rumors and unsubstantiated claims that to actually think about what you're saying.

RE: Playing with fire
By Chillin1248 on 11/9/2007 6:42:51 AM , Rating: 2
Hey Michael,

I will have to disagree with you on this one, that robots will make war be felt even harder on the economy.

I am currently in the Israeli Defense Forces, and it has really opened up my eyes to all the little details that a civilian would never notice.

For one, Robots would cost less to mantain than humans. For humans you need food, transportation, housing, water, and a constant salary for starters. Every second I am in the army costs them a good amount of money. Hell I remember hearing that training an Israeli pilot costs around $1-$4 million dollars each.

Let me give you an example; a 8km march:

- ~180 soldiers on salary
- Full equipment for each (radios, sleeping bags, etc.)
- Food supplies (which also have to be delivered)
- Water supplies ('')
- Field intelligence
- Support vehicles
- etc.

Now I also did some time in a Israeli tank storage facility and I saw how little manpower it required to service hundreds of armored vehicles.

So I have to disagree that having Remote Armored Vehicles will be more expensive than fielding an equivalant force of ground troops.


RE: Playing with fire
By masher2 on 11/9/2007 10:15:58 AM , Rating: 2
> "I will have to disagree with you on this one, that robots will make war be felt even harder on the economy."

That's not quite what I'm saying. My point was that these advances will shift the burden from being primarily a human-loss issue to one that's almost entirely economic.

> "For one, Robots would cost less to mantain than humans"

True. But let's examine that issue closer. Let's say you have $300M/year to spend on a unit of ground trips. You decide to replace it with a robotic version that is equally effective, but costs only $100M. You save $200M.

But assuming you're not fighting an assymetric war, your enemy has roughly the same technology you do. So he does the same, replacing his troops with robots. And (since he wants an advantage over you...after all, the point of war is to win) he spends the money HE saves on MORE robots.

Where does that leave you? You're forced to spend your $200M savings on more robots also, leaving you with an equal economic burden to your old human troops-- and stil evenly matched with your opponent, even though technically your forces are now 3X as "powerful". So the only thing that's changed is that now a war will hit you ONLY in your pocketbook, instead of both there and in human costs.

But wait! The issue is still more complex. When you spend $4M training a human pilot, you know that investment is eventually going to vanish. Even if that human isn't killed in combat, he'll eventually retire, quit, etc. Humans are very, very expensive to maintain. But robots are not-- invest in a robot force and, barring minor maintenance costs, that investment *lasts*.

So over time, what happens? Your $300M/year military budget gives you a military force that GROWS each year. You continually get more and more powerful. So do your enemies, so this does't affect military balance, but it does affect economic cost. It means a war doesn't just cost your current forces. It costs you everything you've spent since your LAST war. It depletes you of all that hardware you've bought for years and years.

So even if you win this particular war, you've still stripped yourself bare for all your other enemies, and now have to not train another $300M in troops, but buy $300M times "x" years worth of new robots...a much more expensive proposition.

RE: Playing with fire
By BladeVenom on 11/8/2007 1:37:21 PM , Rating: 2
I would hardly call WW2 a civilized war. Bombers and rockets allowed civilians far behind the fighting to be targeted. Read about the Japanese and especially the Rape of Nanking. There are too many Nazi crimes against civilians to even begin to mention. Stalin turned a blind eye to rape in East Germany, and most POWs never did leave prison camps alive. There were far more civilian casualties than military casualties in WW2. By that measure it was far less civilized than the Napoleonic Wars.

RE: Playing with fire
By masher2 on 11/8/2007 1:53:10 PM , Rating: 3
> "I would hardly call WW2 a civilized war"

Civilization is relative. Compared to the Mongol invasion of Europe, or say, the Spanish conquest of Mexico or Peru, it was quite civilized. Acts like the Rape of Nanking were outrages in earlier eras, they were standard operating procedure.

RE: Playing with fire
By BladeVenom on 11/8/2007 3:55:24 PM , Rating: 2
If you want to go really far back, I'd say Alexander the Great was more civilized than Hitler, Stalin, or Tojo.

RE: Playing with fire
By masher2 on 11/8/2007 4:44:23 PM , Rating: 2
Only for someone whose knowledge of Alexander is limited to the Hollywood film.

How about his siege of Tyre, in which he sold the entire city into slavery? Or Ora, Denoit, Aornos or Massaga, where he slaughtered the entire population of each city -- men, women, and children? Or all the cities burned to the ground in Persia? Or his routine policy of executing his own troops whenever they complained? And ask yourself how all those troops were paid? They certainly weren't paid for Alexander himself...his wars were financed with the money he looted from civilians along the way.

RE: Playing with fire
By BladeVenom on 11/8/07, Rating: 0
RE: Playing with fire
By theapparition on 11/8/2007 1:37:42 PM , Rating: 4
We've been hit, I'm sorry to say, you and your party are now dead. Please report to the termination chambers so we can give the enemy confirmation of the kill.

Pulling out an old Star Trek reference. :-)

RE: Playing with fire
By OrSin on 11/8/2007 1:40:59 PM , Rating: 2
WWI was tame became the rulers on most of the countries was all related. One family reunion and we could have avoided the whole mess. That or just stop the inbreading.

RE: Playing with fire
By BlackBanna on 11/8/2007 2:11:57 PM , Rating: 2
War becoming more civilized is mostly related to the "Eastern" part of the world. The whole of Asia was a mess in WWII and still is for the most part today. And what about Africa? Then their is the nagging unfair question of why are we fighting? I think your statement is more hit and miss.

Air and C4I are only a small part of a war effort. You have to put troops on the ground. Air power and all the other just reduce the cost of lives to active an operational success. Its your ground forces that win wars. It's why we plant flags. ;)

RE: Playing with fire
By masher2 on 11/8/2007 2:19:11 PM , Rating: 3
> "And what about Africa?"

Most of Africa is still fighting according to Medieval standards...and largely with weapons barely removed from the same period. During the Tutsi/Hutu massacre in Rwanda, more people were killed with clubs and knives than any other weapon.

> "You have to put troops on the ground"

Not quite. To win ground, you have to put "something" on that ground. Up till now, the only thing we've had that can actually occupy ground territory is live troops. In the future, though, we can fill that role with autons.

RE: Playing with fire
By maven81 on 11/8/2007 2:22:18 PM , Rating: 2
"By the time of WWI/2, civilians were largely insulated from the direct effects of war."

Are you serious?!!!!

In WWII villages were burned to the ground, civilians rounded up and executed, cities blockaded, and civilians starved to death, civilians kidnapped and brought to Germany to work for the enemy, used as human shields, and tortured... they were "fair game" unless of course you mean US civilians... otherwise you don't have a leg to stand on.

similar things have happened in more recent wars such as vietnam, afghanistan, and chechnya, not to mention iraq. Basically any time there was an invasion, because these wars all took place in someone's back yard, not in a vacuum. (and I'm talking about both sides here... sometimes the civilians are even more guilty of atrocities then the invading army).

Unless robots aquire some serious AI (which would be dangerous given a military robot), they could never replace troops on the ground.

Actually there's an old sci-fi story about what you describe... where humans use only robots to fight wars... and then at the end of the battle a god comes down from the sky and sends all the robots to heaven heh... I always thought it was pretty amusing (I don't believe in god anyway).

RE: Playing with fire
By masher2 on 11/8/2007 2:49:51 PM , Rating: 2
> "Are you serious?!!!!"

Quite serious. Yes, war crimes were committed in WW2 and later wars. The critical point is that these were considered crimes and moral outrages, and were generally avoided.

In earlier eras, the concept of "war crimes" didn't even exist. If an enemy force occupied a village, it would automatically be looted then burned, and its occupants all killed or pressed into slavery. Such an act wouldn't even raise fact, not doing so would have been unusual enough to cause comment.

When the Japanese occupied Manila or the German's Warsaw, they didn't systematically massacre the entire population and stack their skulls in pyramids. Rape and murder weren't unknown...but they were frowned on officially at least, not encouraged. The vast majority of civilians in Europe and Asia SURVIVED WW2, despite the ease with which one or more of the warring powers could have decimated them. Some were killed...but it was a tiny fraction of the total populace.

Take a look at the Mongol's invasion of Central Asia (the entire population of over one million civilians killed at the city of Urgench alone) or their destruction of the Ruthenian states. Those acts weren't "war crimes". They were standard operating procedure. The powers involved didn't try to hide or conceal those acts...they reveled in them, and used them to intimidate their enemies.

Such wide-scale exploitation of civilians wasn't simply widespread in that era, it was necessary. It was the only way your troops got paid. There were no standing armies financed by state budgets. Rape was so commonplace it changed the genetic makeup of entire nations-- in a few generations, the Mongols changed from European features to Oriental, due to the number of wives and concubines taken from their Asian campains, and the darker hair and skin of European stock in Spain, Portugal and Italy resulted from the Moorish invasions.

As for the modern-day idea of punishment for war crimes after a conflict was over? Laughable! Anyone who doesn't realize how civilized modern warfare has become knows nothing about ancient warfare.

RE: Playing with fire
By maven81 on 11/8/2007 2:57:53 PM , Rating: 1
You clearly know nothing about the eastern front for starters. The german army did in fact loot entire villages and burn them to the ground. That really was standard operating procedure. They really would take an entire village, lock it into huge barn, and light it on fire. There's a movie out there that details this rather well, based on recollections of people who saw this called "come and see". They really did round up all the women and rape them. Just because no one talks about this stuff anymore, doesn't mean it didn't happen.
Basically human behavior reached an absolute low during that time, and I can't fathom how anyone can deny that.

RE: Playing with fire
By masher2 on 11/8/2007 3:26:02 PM , Rating: 3
> "You clearly know nothing about the eastern front for starters"

Based on your comments, I know far more about it than you. In fact, my wife's grandfather died fighting on the Eastern Front, and her grandmother lived in a Soviet town occupied by the Germans for several years.

Notice the use of the word "occupied". Almost none of the civilian population was killed. In fact, far more were killed after the Soviets retook the area, by their own people for "collaboration" with the enemy.

You're still missing the point here. Plenty of atrocities occurred in WW2-- rape, murder, destruction of entire vilages, even. But they were in no, way, or form "standard operating procedure". A simple look at population statistics proves it. Som 20 million European civilians died in WW2...but 600+ million survived. They were *not* killed, though they were in close proximity to enemy forces that could have easily done so had they wished. In earlier conflicts, even though fought with much less destructive weaponry, the vast majority of the civilian populace would have died.

Anyone who thinks human behavior "reached a low" in WW2 honestly knows nothing about the barbaric history of warfare. Seriously, read up a little on any historical conflict prior to the Renaissance era. You'll see instantly how dramatically the rules have changed.

RE: Playing with fire
By rcc on 11/8/2007 6:54:26 PM , Rating: 2
Brings to mind several words or terms that are thrown around casually these days without thinking where they came from.

Decimate. And no, you can't decimate a town to the last man. It means to kill every 10th person. A common practice for the Roman army in towns that caused problems.

Caesarian. We use it as a surgical, semi happy term, and a life saving technique. The original reference is to the Roman (again) practice of slicing open a pregnant woman's womb and letting baby out a bit early. My pitiful humor aside it's not what we would consider a "civilized" behavior.

We'll save Ring Around the Rosey, and Mary, Mary Quite Contrary for another time.

So, yes, warfare and life in general is far more civilized now than at any point in history. Particularly when you look at what could be done with the far more destructive weapons available now and in the last century.

Which isn't, as Masher2 mentioned, to say that atrocities don't happen, but just the fact that we view them as atrocities and use that term proves that society in general is far more sensitized to them.
Further, if you look at the semimodern atrocities mentioned, in all cases the people guilty of the atrocity were in a position of considering the victims as less human then themselves.

RE: Playing with fire
By Ringold on 11/8/2007 2:54:25 PM , Rating: 2
When your robot forces are defeated, you simply throw up your hands and surrender...realizing how useless it would be continue in a "conventional" manner.

That seems, to me, possibly too optimistic.

Johnson and Nixon in Vietnam, and probably many people in Korea, didn't seem to understand how an inferior enemy from the third world could dare to defy the will of an overwhelmingly superior enemy force. We see the same thing in Iraq today; they manage to defy us, with our billions of dollars, with next to nothing. Our good friends the Soviet's got a piece of this idea in Afghanistan. If Saddam can have the forethought to disperse arms and munitions in preparation for a long drawn out insurgency then I'd imagine most countries could.

A key assumption of mine is that while the arms and methods of an insurgency against such a military would change, not everything would change since a political victory would still require human boots on the ground and the invading power would be as vulnerable to financial drain as we were in Vietnam. Those on the receiving end arent quite as sensitive to cost any more when enemy hovercraft are "probing" your sisters.

I don't see anything that would change the equation such that a future Chinese insurgency couldn't bleed an American robot military, or even vice versa, except for a personal suspicion we're so nationally weak we'd fold like a lawn chair except for local NRA chapters. It was only partly the cost in life that got us out of Vietnam; the price tag also had its role to play.

Not to say that such technology isn't the next natural evolution of warfare, I just don't know that it'd change much.

RE: Playing with fire
By 16nm on 11/8/2007 2:55:39 PM , Rating: 2
With machines like the one above, I can see a future when wars are fought without deaths on either side. When your robot forces are defeated, you simply throw up your hands and surrender...realizing how useless it would be continue in a "conventional" manner.

I can never see this happening. Civilians would become the target. No country or organization will accept defeat because they lost a bunch of stinking robots. War would not be war if both sides are just losing robots to one another. It would be hard to convince your opponent to see your point of view because you destroyed a bunch of robots. Wipe out half their population and things will change. Look at 9/11. We lost 3000 civilians and things have never been the same. That impacted us and only now do we take al qaeda seriously. Before 9/11, al qaeda was considered a joke by our intelligence agencies, incapable of ever pulling anything like this off.

Robots are an advantage when only one side is using them. Robot war makes zero sense.

RE: Playing with fire
By Ringold on 11/8/2007 3:15:37 PM , Rating: 1
That impacted us and only now do we take al qaeda seriously.

Some of us still do at least.

Before 9/11, al qaeda was considered a joke by our intelligence agencies,

Not quite; I saw a special on History Channel earlier this year about a team in the CIA that was absolutely fanatical about the threat posed by Osama and his group long before anyone else had really paid him any heed. It was primarily the top brass and Bill Clinton who treated Al Qaeda as a joke, or at least not something serious enough to spend political capital in tackling.

It was really rather depressing; we had a huge number of opportunities to kill and capture him and almost every time it was called off by the lawyers or politicians.

Other then that, I generally agree, as posted above. Robots slaughtering whole cities, now that might get people to budget slightly. Slightly.

RE: Playing with fire
By masher2 on 11/8/2007 3:37:39 PM , Rating: 2
> "Civilians would become the target"

If one simply wants to slaughter civilians wholesale, we already have a much more effective means of doing so-- nuclear weapons.

> "Robots are an advantage when only one side is using them"

That's just the point. Even if both sides have them at the start of a conflict, at some point only one will have any remaining. They then have the advantage.

RE: Playing with fire
By juuvan on 11/28/2007 5:09:42 AM , Rating: 2
using nuclear weapons have this nasty side effect of making the demolished ground unusable for own troops.

These weapons are usable only in open ground with easy to ride terrain. Try use one of these in Europe, where are rivers, canals, mountains, swamps etc, or Siberia where there is nothing but trees to see :)

One skilled guerrilla group take a squadron of these down in a minute, unless they have some sort of support troops, which kinda voids the unmanned issue.

bordering the southern border of US would be the only place to use these.

RE: Playing with fire
By copiedright on 11/8/2007 10:40:02 PM , Rating: 2
I would have to disagree with that. The world wars of the 20th century were the first wars in which civilians were targeted during the conflict, due to the factor of war production.

Most conflicts before the 19th century were actually operated by clear rules of war, battlefields were defined, kings were not targeted purposefully. They were partially a quick 'game' so that soldier/farmers could quickly get back to their crops.

your wives and daughters raped, and your children sold into slavery.

Are you aware that estimates state that one in three woman in wore torn parts of Europe had to resort to prostitution. And as for rape, you might want to have another look at the fall of Berlin, or even Vietnam. Hell why not look at the War in Iraq, with the sexual abuse of prisoners.

By the time of WWI/2, civilians were largely insulated from the direct effects of war.

Not true. Modern time has seen the battlefields expand and civilian collateral damage clearly increase as the destructive capabilities of warfare increased. Yes, the Romans burnt Carthage and the viking pillaged, but the recent wars have decimated entire regions, not just cities.

Desert Storm showed us a new kind of war

I also view asymmetrical warfare as uncivilized.

However I do agree with your idea that with this kind of tech wars could be fought without deaths, to one side at least.

RE: Playing with fire
By BlackBanna on 11/8/2007 1:43:42 PM , Rating: 2
One of the things that makes a solider is their acceptance of a moral obligation. Part of that definition of moral obligation is the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Military Code of Conduct, Geneva Convention, and Law of Armed Conflict.
I think it is most Military view that the solider has the moral obligation to decided what to kill and destroy and to turn that decision process over to a machine is unacceptable.
I believe that more than anything is preventing the current Military powers from developing kill bots with their own autonomy.

RE: Playing with fire
By masher2 on 11/8/2007 1:56:13 PM , Rating: 2
> " to turn that decision process over to a machine is unacceptable."

If you aim a rifle at someone and pull the trigger, have you "turned over" the decision over what to kill to a machine? If you press a bomb bay door button, knowing it means the death of anyone below your aircraft, have you "turned over" the decision to your bomber?

These autonomous machines are no different. The overall decisions are still being made by humans. They're just being implemented by circuits, not muscles.

RE: Playing with fire
By clovell on 11/8/2007 2:09:00 PM , Rating: 1
The machines are either autonomous or they're not; you can't really have it both ways.

I think what he's driving at is that there should always be someone directly in control of these things when they're being used to kill people.

RE: Playing with fire
By masher2 on 11/8/2007 2:14:30 PM , Rating: 3
What I'm saying is that there's absolutely zero difference between instructing a robot to kill all personnel inside a map grid square, and dropping a bomb on a building that you cannot see inside, or launching an artillery shell at a location miles away that you cannot directly see. In all cases, you may accidently kill noncombatants in harm's way.

The ultimate decision is still a human one. In fact, in the case of the robot, which would presumably contain at least rudimentary discrimination ability, it would actually be the choice best able to carry out the "human" decision of killing only enemy combatants in a certain area.

RE: Playing with fire
By dustinfrazier on 11/8/2007 6:27:28 PM , Rating: 2
In those instances, the men pulling the trigger and dropping the bombs are still in harms way. A free populace will usually try to bring an end to bloodshed when it's their relatives who might not come home. When there is no bloodshed (theoretically) how ambivalent will the public become? I don't care about the autonomous argument, I care about the care free argument. It is my opinion that world governments don't show enough restraint when it comes to sending real live troops in to battle. How much less restraint will there be when they can suggest to their populace a 0 body count for their side? How many more black ops would take place? Do you think Chechnya would still exist if Russia had the kind of automation we are discussing?

Someone mentioned earlier that you must also have boots on the ground. I believe that is absolutely true. Believing that AI can be developed to the point that these machines will only harm combatants, what's next? The countries non-combatants, the majority of the population, would not act any differently than they do nowadays when another country invades. They would retaliate. This would turn the civilian population into combatants. So you can invade a country, kill the "enemy" and get out, but that doesn't get you much unless they were the first to attack you. You definitely can't hold or occupy anything unless you are ok with killing the civilians.

The next problem is when the majority of the population carries a weapon and the combatants don't wear a uniform, they look just like everyone else. It is common for everyday Iraqis to carry an AK, especially nowadays. It is not uncommon to see men going about their normal business with an automatic weapon slung over their shoulder.

One last thing I would like to ad is that no one wants to stop a war more than the real people who have to fight it. Knowing the real, human repercussions of past wars is what keeps people from wanting future wars. War should never be made easy.

RE: Playing with fire
By CRimer76 on 11/8/2007 2:13:14 PM , Rating: 1
Yeah, well when the T1000 kills your foster mother because your mom is in a loony bin for trying to save the future, I won't say I told you so.

RE: Playing with fire
By maverick85wd on 11/8/2007 4:38:29 PM , Rating: 2
I agree that war is a terrible thing and that loss of life is part of it. I have had people close to me die in Iraq and wish they were still here more than anything.

That being said, I think a loss of life is somewhat important to the whole war concept. It puts a price on declaring war. If you have a bunch of robots go in and kill the enemy, losing hardly any allied lives, how easy would it be to just declare war on whoever for whatever reasons? A major part of declaring war is the consideration of is what we are doing worth the lives of some of our countrymen? Is it worth the lives of a few million dollars worth of robots is entirely different and easier to accept. Consider another country getting robots as well, then us declaring war on each other. Would it stop when the robots have destroyed each other? Doubtful. Who knows.... perhaps the government will use them responsibly...

Do not get me wrong. I am in the military myself and am all for preserving the life of my comrades... just looking at things from a different angle.

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