Monday, February 23, 2009

PENTAGON WANTS PACKS OF ROBOTS TO HUNT DOWN 'NON-COOPERATIVE' HUMANSS LIKE DOGS

New Scientist - The latest request from the Pentagon jars the senses. . . They are looking for contractors to provide a "Multi-Robot Pursuit System" that will let packs of robots "search for and detect a non-cooperative human". . .

Given that iRobot last year struck a deal with Taser International to mount stun weapons on its military robots, how long before we see packs of droids hunting down pesky demonstrators with paralyzing weapons? Or could the packs even be lethally armed? I asked two experts on automated weapons what they thought. Both were concerned that packs of robots would be entrusted with tasks - and weapons - they were not up to handling without making wrong decisions.

Steve Wright of Leeds Metropolitan University is an expert on police and military technologies, and last year correctly predicted this pack-hunting mode of operation would happen. "The giveaway here is the phrase 'a non-cooperative human subject'," he told me:

"What we have here are the beginnings of something designed to enable robots to hunt down humans like a pack of dogs. Once the software is perfected we can reasonably anticipate that they will become autonomous and become armed.

We can also expect such systems to be equipped with human detection and tracking devices including sensors which detect human breath and the radio waves associated with a human heart beat. These are technologies already developed." . . . .

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