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Subject: Real Cylons? Read and comment... rss

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Leo Zappa
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http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,496309,00.html

So, the US military is actually concerned about the robot warriors that it has been developing for a number of years now. Of course, the piece that's missing is that humans still build the robots, so I doubt we are looking at a Terminator/Cylon scenario where the robots maintain themselves and build more of their own kind any time soon. And robots don't have inexhaustible power and ammo supplies, so they would run out of both before long. Still, robots running amok - an interesting and disturbing issue.

My bigger concern with robotic soldiers is how easy they can make the decision to go to war. On the one hand, I think using robots is a great counter to the guerilla/terrorist style enemies we fight today - terror doesn't deter a robot, and that in turn takes away much of the psychological edge that our enemies can have against us. In fact, knowing that you are up against emotionless, relentless robots would seem to be fairly terrifying itself, and so I would think the side with the robots would have a significant edge psychologically, not to mention the fact that you can send the robots into situations that even the bravest soldier would resist entering.

However, when you are relatively unconcerned about your own possible casualties, that's one less restraint in making the decision to go to war in the first place. There's always blowback in these situations - we launch a robot army against an enemy, they strike back assymetrically, perhaps with a terror attack on our own soil. War should always be avoided if at all possible, because, among other things, consequences can not be foreseen. Unfortunately, having a robot army at their disposal can lull national leaders into a false sense that they can go to war on the cheap.

Thoughts...
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Richard Hefferan
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Apart from the fact that this sounds super cool?
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Leo Zappa
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Shushnik wrote:
Apart from the fact that this sounds super cool?


Well, yes, there is that!
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I'm not worried, but check this out:



Could they have made that thing any creepier, with the black instect-like legs and the bulbous silver protusions at each shoulder and the buzzing sound of the motor. Efing creeepy. And cool as hell.
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Scott Russell
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I had a theory once that to end war, all we had to do was threaten to drop a nuke on any army that invaded across an international border.

It seemed wrong to send American troops to fight and die when we could stop any incursions without risking any soldiers.

So I am all for this concept.
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Daniel Edwards
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qzhdad wrote:
I had a theory once that to end war, all we had to do was threaten to drop a nuke on any army that invaded across an international border.

It seemed wrong to send American troops to fight and die when we could stop any incursions without risking any soldiers.

So I am all for this concept.


Seems a bit harsh on the country being invaded getting nuked like that
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Eric "Shippy McShipperson" Mowrer
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TheLightSarcastic wrote:
I much prefer the robotic war machines of the eighties.



NO DISASSEMBLE!!!!!!
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True Blue Jon
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ejmowrer wrote:
TheLightSarcastic wrote:
I much prefer the robotic war machines of the eighties.



NO DISASSEMBLE!!!!!!


Nice hardware!
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Colleen
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I am guessing that humans will be sitting at a desk with a remote control device much like a video game controlling some type of machine. There is no need to make them look human, just mobile and lethal. I watched some videos on youtube of remote controlled bombers that they are using in Iraq and Afghanistan, it was like a video game, except that they used infrared scanners and people died. Some philosophical discussion began about how killing ought to be seen and experienced by the killer in order for morality to set in. I disagree, especially since we have no agreed upon moral code--nor will we ever.
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Eric "Shippy McShipperson" Mowrer
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colleens wrote:
I am guessing that humans will be sitting at a desk with a remote control device much like a video game controlling some type of machine. There is no need to make them look human, just mobile and lethal. I watched some videos on youtube of remote controlled bombers that they are using in Iraq and Afghanistan, it was like a video game, except that they used infrared scanners and people died. Some philosophical discussion began about how killing ought to be seen and experienced by the killer in order for morality to set in. I disagree, especially since we have no agreed upon moral code--nor will we ever.


You lost me at that last sentence. The reson we have so many of these wars is because the people that send in the troops often have no connection to the actual consequence in terms of human suffering (in all its forms) for everyone involved on the ground (us, them, and civilians). How many modern wars would still be fought if those who declared war had to lead from the battlefield instead of from behind a desk, I wonder.
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Colleen
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ejmowrer wrote:
You lost me at that last sentence. The reson we have so many of these wars is because the people that send in the troops often have no connection to the actual consequence in terms of human suffering (in all its forms) for everyone involved on the ground (us, them, and civilians). How many modern wars would still be fought if those who declared war had to lead from the battlefield instead of from behind a desk, I wonder.


The reason behind the war is not the same discussion of the soldier who pulls the trigger to kill a man. I was simply pointing out how the robot soldier discussion often gets into a philosophical discussion of morality and that morality itself is not something we can agree on.

I do agree with you to a point about the disconnection to the war leads to a misunderstanding and consequently poor decision making. But wars tend to be fought for some type of spoils (money, resources, peace, assassination) and killing is the means to the end. But the robot soldier is a very different means than we have had in the past. It puts a value on the soldiers life--literally--and a cost/benefit of a war outside of human sacrifice. It truly can be a business.
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Isaac Citrom
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So, you don't yet realize that you're in the Matrix, do you?!

In any case, what would you do if the enemy countered with, for example, an army of clones?
.
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Chief Slovenly
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TheLightSarcastic wrote:
I much prefer the robotic war machines of the eighties.



This gives me an idea for the war machines of the future.

Send WALL*E, Short Circuit, and R2D2 over to whatever war-torn country with shoulder-mounted rocket launchers, flechette cannons and surface-to-air missiles.

Disarm 'em first with disarming cuteness, then in with the high explosives. With any luck, Short Circuit will be screaming INPUT!!! INPUT!!! over the corpses of the enemy as WALL*E compacts all the evidence into little cubes.

I only wish I was drunk when I posted this.
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Leo Zappa
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ejmowrer wrote:
colleens wrote:
I am guessing that humans will be sitting at a desk with a remote control device much like a video game controlling some type of machine. There is no need to make them look human, just mobile and lethal. I watched some videos on youtube of remote controlled bombers that they are using in Iraq and Afghanistan, it was like a video game, except that they used infrared scanners and people died. Some philosophical discussion began about how killing ought to be seen and experienced by the killer in order for morality to set in. I disagree, especially since we have no agreed upon moral code--nor will we ever.


You lost me at that last sentence. The reson we have so many of these wars is because the people that send in the troops often have no connection to the actual consequence in terms of human suffering (in all its forms) for everyone involved on the ground (us, them, and civilians). How many modern wars would still be fought if those who declared war had to lead from the battlefield instead of from behind a desk, I wonder.


My point exactly. The thing to keep in mind is that while our army may be made of robots in the near future, they are killing real people on the other end. Hopefully, all of the real people being killed are enemy combatants, but realistically, they won't be. There will be civilian deaths, and the easier it is to go to war with our machines, the more wars there will be, and the more innocent people that will be slaughtered by these things. That would be immoral in my view, and then, of course, as I pointed out earlier, it will lead to these people fighting back in the only way that they can, with suicide bombers in shopping malls and suicide pilots in planes. I'm not saying that we should not develop this technology, but it needs to be used with the utmost restraint. I fear such will not be the case.

Consider - if instead of 4,000 American troops killed in Iraq since 2003, there had been no American troops killed, but only 4,000 US military robots destroyed. In both scenarios, assume that Iraqi deaths and injuries stay the same.
Question - Would the Iraq war been seen in the eyes of the American public as the huge debacle it came to be seen during the last election? Would support for this war in the US fallen to the levels it has if only robots had been lost, regardless of Iraqi casualties?
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Chief Slovenly
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To be serious for a second (no, I'm not bipolar)...

On the subject of pushbutton war:

Losses

It was not dying: everybody died.
It was not dying: we had died before
In the routine crashes-- and our fields
Called up the papers, wrote home to our folks,
And the rates rose, all because of us.
We died on the wrong page of the almanac,
Scattered on mountains fifty miles away;
Diving on haystacks, fighting with a friend,
We blazed up on the lines we never saw.
We died like aunts or pets or foreigners.
(When we left high school nothing else had died
For us to figure we had died like.)

In our new planes, with our new crews, we bombed
The ranges by the desert or the shore,
Fired at towed targets, waited for our scores--
And turned into replacements and woke up
One morning, over England, operational.

It wasn't different: but if we died
It was not an accident but a mistake
(But an easy one for anyone to make.)
We read our mail and counted up our missions--
In bombers named for girls, we burned
The cities we had learned about in school--
Till our lives wore out; our bodies lay among
The people we had killed and never seen.
When we lasted long enough they gave us medals;
When we died they said, "Our casualties were low."

They said, "Here are the maps"; we burned the cities.

It was not dying --no, not ever dying;
But the night I died I dreamed that I was dead,
And the cities said to me: "Why are you dying?
We are satisfied, if you are; but why did I die?"

-- Randall Jarrell

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Gregory Amstutz
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You know, as long as these Warbots run on say, I don't know, Windows Vista, I don't think we have too much to worry about.
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Chris
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If I wasn't already married I'd be all over this.

desertfox2004 wrote:
robots running amok - an interesting and disturbing issue.

So you're saying that having an 'Ultimate Weapon' makes war inevitable?

I doubt it.
 
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Antigonus Monophthalmus
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Liumas wrote:
So you're saying that having an 'Ultimate Weapon' makes war inevitable?

I doubt it.


I think the idea is if you take away one of the major negative consequences to war, loss of human life, then war becomes less of a negative thing. A nuclear bomb, another "ultimate weapon" doesn't really meet the same criteria because using a nuke has many, many negative consequences on its own. The reduction in negative consequences of robotic soldiers is a more subtle one, and I think the "Iraq war opinion" though experiment demonstrates it wonderfully.

I'm not sure how much I buy into the argument, but it's certainly a very interesting scenarios of unintended consequences running amok...
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M@tthijs
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Different angle than pondering our own morality:

Every weapon build will become the weapon of your enemy. It may take a generation, it may take more, but it will.
It has been, from the introduction of bow&arrow, 'till the invention of the nuclear bomb.

So how about making the perfect fighting robot, with a in-build moral code to not-shoot unarmed people etc., only to have one with that particular piece of software disabled turned loose by some terrorists in a mall near you?
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Antigonus Monophthalmus
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_Kael_ wrote:
So how about making the perfect fighting robot, with a in-build moral code to not-shoot unarmed people etc., only to have one with that particular piece of software disabled turned loose by some terrorists in a mall near you?


I think it would be criminally insane to build a robot that kills people autonomously, "inhibitors" or not, and I highly doubt anybody would do it. Militaries are in fact marked by a desire for increased control, not increased autonomy, even with humans who can interpret orders and think far better than a robot could.
 
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BagpipeDan wrote:
I think it would be criminally insane to build a robot that kills people autonomously, "inhibitors" or not, and I highly doubt anybody would do it. Militaries are in fact marked by a desire for increased control, not increased autonomy, even with humans who can interpret orders and think far better than a robot could.

I do hope you're right, but I won't bet my money on it.

I believe history shows more military inventions which can be, or at least at their arrival were, regarded 'criminally insane'.


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Colleen
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_Kael_ wrote:
So how about making the perfect fighting robot, with a in-build moral code to not-shoot unarmed people etc., only to have one with that particular piece of software disabled turned loose by some terrorists in a mall near you?


I 'm not sure if I should say too risky or not possible, but either way, even if you reduce a "moral code" down to the basic premise that shooting an unarmed man is not right, we know from experience that it's too difficult to define what unarmed means. It cannot only take into account seeing a weapon, or else our enemies will adapt and destroy the machines. Once we start adding complicated heuristics to identify weapons, we run the risk of both not identifying the weapon and killing innocents. Robot warriors should be remotely controlled by a person, with human judgment, and awesome video game skills.
 
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Scott Russell
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myopia wrote:
qzhdad wrote:
I had a theory once that to end war, all we had to do was threaten to drop a nuke on any army that invaded across an international border.

It seemed wrong to send American troops to fight and die when we could stop any incursions without risking any soldiers.

So I am all for this concept.


Seems a bit harsh on the country being invaded getting nuked like that


A bit,but being occupied isn't all peaches and cream.

It eliminates the invading army and it removes the incentive to try to take resources from another country by force.

Kind of like when two kids are fighting over a toy. You take the toy away so neither gets it. Not sure if it's fair, but it is effective.

 
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Scott Russell
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The argument that it will become easier to go to war may have some merit, but I am not sure.

Where do you think we might have sent these robo-warriors in the last twenty years that we haven't sent real troops?
 
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Leo Zappa
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qzhdad wrote:
The argument that it will become easier to go to war may have some merit, but I am not sure.

Where do you think we might have sent these robo-warriors in the last twenty years that we haven't sent real troops?


I believe it's not unreasonable to think that with no fear of US casualties, American adminstrations might have considered deploying our "terminators" to the following places in order to accomplish 'regime change' over the last 20 to 25 years...

Iran
North Korea
Serbia
Libya
Venezuela
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