Defense Firm Prepares to Terminate the Terminators

Illustration for article titled Defense Firm Prepares to Terminate the Terminators

It happens to the best of us: Your robot body guard takes a car bomb to the brain and suddenly she thinks she's supposed to kill you rather than protect you. Or maybe an enemy combatant has sent an autonomous computerized agent to destroy you, and Sarah Connor is nowhere to be found. How can you defend yourself against a mechanized foe? Until artificial intelligence starts obeying Asimov's Laws of Robotics, one company is developing tools to combat the eventual robot revolution.Dotcom millionaire Ben Way launched Weapons Against Robots (WAR) Defence to combat the potential threats posed by artificial intelligence through the creation of anti-robot weaponry, detection and monitoring of robots, and use of anti-robot viruses. Way believes that, as AI is increasingly used in warfare and defense, it is prudent to ready countermeasures in the event, not only of an enemy's use of robotics, but that an intelligence's programming goes awry:

"The use of robotics in the military is on the up and, although the decision to take human life is currently still taken by another human, before long such decisions will be made up complex mathematical and logical rules programmed within a robot." "Potentially the consequences of a computer crashing could be devastating. Hence, robotic defence is not just necessary for tackling combatants, but potentially for making sure we have control over our own weaponry."

But are such measures really necessary? Computer scientist Noel Sharkey, who has, in the past, written about the dangers of deploying autonomous combat robots, believes that Way's efforts are a much-needed safeguard against the destruction of human life by artificial intelligence:

"This is the first real response that I have seen to the predicted rise in the use of autonomous military robots and it testifies to the dangerous slippery slope that we seem to be inevitably sliding down." "Ben Way has certainly picked up on the magnitude of the impending threat or autonomous robot weapons to humanitarian war but it seems even more worrying that such steps are having to be taken.


Way made his fortune as a teenager developing search technology. More recently, he started corporate venture company Rainmakers, mentoring network Horsesmouth, and print over Internet protocol service ViaPost. War Against Robots: the new entrepreneurial frontier [Telegraph] Weapons Against Robots Defence Company

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Corpore Metal

Given the increasing use of robots in post-industrial military forces, you can be certain the guerrilla armies in developing countries will work out cheap ways to thwart these bots—a hand ax to the control cable, radio jammers, EMP generators, sand in the joints, lasers to the cameras.

All of which can be countered of course. But that's just the point. The terrorists will force us to, thus making the bots more expensive as time goes on.

My guess is the end result of this will be police and soldier robots that are very hard to stop if a software error should cause one to go on a rampage.