Intelligent Battlebots of the Near Future

They're smart. They're autonomous. They're armed!

Consider this pair of articles:

A Base to Call Their Own? Army Considers Letting Robots Roam Freely
(c/o BigPeace)

Currently, most battlefield ground robots are tele-operated, meaning they require someone to control the system from a stand-off distance. This method is labor intensive. Researchers have been developing software that would allow the machines to operate more freely, and take the workload off of troops.

IBM unveils chips that mimic the human brain

IBM states that the chips, while certainly not biological, are inspired by the architecture of the human brain in their design. Digital silicon circuits make up what it terms the "neurosynaptic core".

The scientists have built two working prototype designs. Both cores contain 256 neurons, one with 262,144 programmable synapses and the other with 65,536 learning synapses. The team has successfully demonstrated simple applications like navigation, machine vision, pattern recognition, associative memory and classification.

Especially noteworthy is this, from the second article: "It has been awarded $21m (£12.7m) of new funding by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for the next phase of the project, which it terms 'Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics' (SyNAPSE)." We're about to give battlebots positronic-like brains, and considering how we desensitize soldiers, we can be sure these battlebots will lack such niceties as the Asimov's three laws.

It's all just fun and games, though, right? Sure, it is!

More-or-less related links on other sites:

Johann Hari: The age of the killer robot is no longer a sci-fi fantasy — "In the dark, in the silence, in a blink, the age of the autonomous killer robot has arrived. It is happening. They are deployed. And – at their current rate of acceleration – they will become the dominant method of war for rich countries in the 21st century."

Machine rebellion begins: Killer robot destroyed by US jet — "An American "Reaper" flying hunter-killer robot assassin rebelled against its human controllers above Afghanistan on Sunday, and a manned US fighter jet was forced to shoot the rogue machine down before it unilaterally invaded a neighbouring country.... a large five-ton turboprop powered machine able to carry up to 14 Hellfire missiles - each capable of destroying a tank or flattening a building."

Self-sustaining killer robot creates a stink — prototype eats flies and poops. "[T]he ultimate aim... is to make the droid predatory, using sewage as a bait to catch the flies." Will future battlebots eat their prey?

Australian Man Gunned Down in Driveway by Killer Robot — March 19, 2008 An 81-year-old Australian man has shot himself dead with an elaborate suicide robot built using plans he downloaded from the Internet.

Killer Robots coming on Memorial Day — the International Robogames Competition (source for photo and video above)

Case of the Killer Robot — fictitious articles that touch on specific issues in software engineering and computer ethics

Killer..Robot (MATRIX) — dark humor animated video