Friday, June 24, 2011

Why I don't see a robot uprising

Well at least by military robots.

Craked (yes going there again) has 6 Shocking Ways Robots Are Already Becoming Human

I'll just concentrate on #6 which deals with military robots.

One colonel ordered a minefield-clearing robot (it was programmed to walk through the field, set off a mine, lose a limb, then drag itself onward until the next explosion) to cease its duties because he couldn't stand watching it anymore. He considered the treatment of this robot ... "inhumane." More than one soldier was brought to tears when their beloved battle 'bot comrade was destroyed by an IED. But the first place award for BRFFs goes to a group of soldiers who, after acquiring some much needed down time, took their robot fishing with them -- because they felt the robot had earned a day off, too.

Remember that mine clearing robot? In an inversion of the standard trope. The robot's creator was the one coldly to watch the robot blow itself up bit by bit. It was the miltiary officer who had such empathy for the robot to stop the test.

From another of the articles linked in Cracked.

One EOD soldier brought in a robot for repairs with tears in his eyes and asked the repair shop if it could put "Scooby-Doo" back together. Despite being assured that he would get a new robot, the soldier remained inconsolable. He only wanted Scooby-Doo.

I remember this anecdote from a couple years ago. It was part of a larger piece on a "bot hospital" in Iraq. Where damaged robots would go to be repaired.

I can't find the article on the bot-hospital right now, but that bit on Scooby-Doo stuck with me.

And then this.

Sometimes such bonds led soldiers to risk their lives for their robots, in a strange inverse of the idea that robots would spare human lives. Singer recounted another EOD soldier who ran 164 feet under machine gun fire to retrieve a robot that had been knocked out of action. And several teams have given their robots promotions, Purple Heart awards for being wounded in combat, and even a military funeral.

Treating the robots as a comrade, as a brother in arms.

It makes sense. War is the most stressful thing, and here soldiers are working with the robots. They're going to develop emotional bonds to something they work with and has helped save their lives.

Well, at least the robots aren't developing bonds back. Oh wait... that's #3 on Cracked's list.

This is why I'm not as worried about military robots. Given they'll likely face the least alienation and prejudice from the soldiers they'll be working with.

Civilian robots on the other hand...

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