Monday, March 24, 2014

Are Robot Soldiers a Possibility?

     We have all seen the movies where man builds robots in order to perform mundane daily tasks and eventually someone has the bright idea that these robots could be given weapons and used for military applications.  At which point, they then take over the world and practically eradicate the human race.     
 
     Currently, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is attempting to develop robots that can do mundane activities like driving cars and using tools.  They want these robots to have free range of motion, being able to handle different terrains and activities.  The hopes are that these robots can be used in disaster relief activities.  But according to this Article, if a robot that can use a shovel it can certainly use a machine gun.  Will this research eventually lead to the robotic soldier?  Whether it is remote controlled or has an artificial intelligence that could be programmed does not matter, what does matter the fact that war could be fought with little human risk on the side that has the robots.  Is that good or bad?  Risk makes war a last resort (theoretically), but if that risk was minimized how easy would it be to go to war?  How easy would it be to pull the trigger or program the trigger to be pulled?

     According to another article, Google has acquired a couple of robotic companies that do research for DARPA and are going to refuse the government funding.  Google feels that there is a stigma associated with working with the military and robots, but mostly believes that the real money on robots will be made in the private sector. 
   
     Does Google believe that there is more to the DARPA robotic research than having robots perform mundane activities?  It could possibly be a reason behind their refusal of government funds, but the monetary factor seems more plausible.  The robots of the type described in the above articles are still years away from a reality.  The public and private sectors who conduct this research will need to understand what breakthroughs in robotic technology will mean to the world and the implications. 

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