With all the talk about drones in the news lately, there's another robotic technology coming down the pike worth mentioning too, and it's the ground based military robot:
Robots are one of the transhumanists' "GRIN" technologies, GRIN standing for Genetics, Robotics, Information processing, and Nanotechnology. As the article points out, the growth of robotic technology and the increasing capabilities of information processing architectures to mimic human thought and decision raises the question of the morality and ethics of having machines make "life and death decisions." However, according to the article the decision has already been made:
"A Department of Defense directive issued in November requires special approval for robot systems that kill without human supervision. It calls for manufacturers to minimize chances that robots could engage in unintended attacks — or fall under the control of hackers.
“'The intent of this directive is to get out ahead of technology,' said Lt. Col. Jim Gregory, Defense Department spokesman. 'It is not motivated by any particular event or specific capability, but rather an appreciation that technology is advancing such that the ability to employ more autonomous systems will only increase over time.'
"Although the military does not have machines that can go out and kill on their own, it has autonomous robots that can initiate nonlethal attacks or defend ships and troops."(Emphasis added)
Notwithstanding the article's caveats, there is a more disturbing implication, however, and it's worth mentioning. Recently we have seen the deployment of drones not only over foreign airspace, but America's. We have been assured that the American deployed drones are simply for surveillance purposes. But with the increasing trend toward the militarization of local and state law enforcement, including making available to them military grade weapons and training, one wonders just how long it will be before the military robot - those armed with actual weapons - will reach local law enforcement. If previous trends are any indicator, it is an inevitability. Indeed, as the article itself points out, unarmed robots are already being used for "airport security." It's a ways off, of course, but it's coming, as are robotic pilotless commercial airliners. And that cop that you managed to talk out of a traffic ticket? He or she, too, might eventually go the way of the dodo bird.
The consequences are enormous, for wars could become increasingly asymmetrical affairs: whichever side is able to produce more robots and inflict more human damage could become the great power of tomorrow. Then too, as the article also avers, the opportunities for computer hackers also group; one might even envision 'coups d'etat by computer"...
See you on the flip side.