February 25, 2013
As the future of warfare turns toward robotic technology and autonomous weapons, several groups is becoming concerned that artificial intelligence will become the go-to destructive element of any law enforcement or military arsenal.
The campaign “Stop the Killer Robots” hopes to have mandates a global treaty to control the use of autonomous weapons.
In 2012 the Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report entitled “Losing Humanity: The Case Against Killer Robots” which warns that autonomous synthetic armed forces lack conscious empathy that human soldiers have and could perform lethal missions without provocation.
Autonomous synthetic robots used as weapons cannot inherently conform to “the requirements of international humanitarian law” as they cannot adequately distinguish “between soldiers and civilians on the battlefield or apply the human judgment necessary to evaluate the proportionality of an attack – whether civilian harm outweighs military advantage.”
Using the excuse that these robots would save military lives in combat situations, does not address the fact that they are fully programmable computers lacking compassion for human life – whether it is for the targeted “enemies” or civilians.
The HRW report states: “Human emotions provide one of the best safeguards against killing civilians, and a lack of emotion can make killing easier. Emotions should be viewed as central to restraint in war.”
Under the Air Vehicles Directorate branch of the US Air Force, research is being conducted to perfect remote-controlled micro air vehicles (MAVs) that are expected to “become a vital element in the ever-changing war-fighting environment and will help ensure success on the battlefield of the future.”
The future of war will include these “’unobtrusive, pervasive, and lethal” MAVs that can be dropped from an airborne plane into combat situations. The MAVs can be used for specific individual targeted assassinations or monitor a predetermined radius.
In June of 2011, the US military admitted to having drone technology so sophisticated that it could be the size of a bug.
In what is referred to as the “microaviary” on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, drone are in development and design to replicate the flight patterns of moths, hawks and other air-borne creatures of the natural world.
After “Super Storm” Sandy, the Pentagon requested that a team of “rescue robots” be engineered in time for the next “natural disaster”. The DARPA Robotics Challenge is putting out the call for a synthetic force that can be designed for autonomous thought; yet mitigate the risk to human life when preforming a rescue mission.
According to DARPA: “Our best robotic tools are helping, but they are not yet robust enough to function in all environments and perform the basic tasks needed to mitigate a crisis situation. Even in degraded post-disaster situations, the environment is scaled to the human world, requiring navigation of human obstacles such as doors and stairs, manipulation of human objects such as vehicles and power tools, and recognition of common human objects such as levers and valves.”
DARPA has awarded Boston Dynamics, Inc. a $10.9 million contract to manufacture humanoid robots that are bi-pedal, built like humans and have a sensor head with on-board computing capabilities. Completion of the project is expected for August of 2014.
Another of DARPA’s interests into robotics is the Avatar for the allocation of bi-pedal robots and essential super-soldiers and has devoted $7 million of its $2.8 billion 2012 budget to developing “interfaces and algorithms to enable a soldier to effectively partner with a semi-autonomous bi-pedal machine and allow it to act as the soldier’s surrogate.”
The Naval Research Laboratory has developed SAFFiR, the Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot. SAFFiR is an autonomous bipedal humanoid robot, based on the CHARLI-L1 robot created at Virginia Tech. This robot can interact with humans with a comprehensive response system that utilizes language – including slang to make it more familiar. A robot that can hold a conversation and fight fires is quite impressive.
The 2012 Design Challenge competition in Los Angeles displayed futuristic drone cars that could be used by law enforcement replacing current highway patrol cars by 2025.
In fact, all the designers who attended the auto show competition (BMW, Honda, Subaru and General Motors) produced drones technology in a conceptual form where autonomously controlled vehicles would “empower highway patrol officers to meet new demands and effectively both ‘protect and serve’ the public while considering not just enforcement needs but emission concerns, population growth and transportation infrastructure.”
• The Honda created the CHP Drone Squad consisting in four-wheeled Auto-Drones and motorcycle Moto-Drones.
• BMW’s ePatrol combined human and drone to work in tandem.
• The Subaru Highway Automated Response Concept (SHARC) uses renewable energy and has aquatic capabilities.
• GM Volt Squad utilizes a propulsion system and carries a human officer to “observe, pursue or engage”.
• Mercedes-Benz’s Ener-G-Force is electronically motored, traffic controller that changes when exposed to human behavior.
Researchers at the University Of North Dakota (UND) conducted a study in September to justify the increasing use of drones in local police departments. In collaboration with the Grand Forks County Sheriff’s Department, and funded by drone manufactures, the UND approached the compromised study in favor of proving that it would be in the best interest of law enforcement to develop “operating concept for police departments”.Add This to Technorati Faves