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Ethical Killing Machines 785

ubermiester writes "The New York Times reports on research to develop autonomous battlefield robots that would 'behave more ethically in the battlefield than humans.' The researchers claim that these real-life terminators 'can be designed without an instinct for self-preservation and, as a result, no tendency to lash out in fear. They can be built without anger or recklessness ... and they can be made invulnerable to ... "scenario fulfillment," which causes people to absorb new information more easily if it agrees with their pre-existing ideas.' Based on a recent report stating that 'fewer than half of soldiers and marines serving in Iraq said that noncombatants should be treated with dignity and respect, and 17 percent said all civilians should be treated as insurgents,' this might not be all that dumb an idea."

The Inside Story of the Armed Robot Pullout Rumor 105

An anonymous reader writes "It appears that the initial rumor of the SWORDS robots being pulled out of Iraq — and its subsequent correction — were just that: sensationalizing in the blogosphere. Popular Mechanics has a lengthy update to its original scoop, digging into the sketchy responses from defense contractors when pressed about the bot's actual duties in battle. From the article: 'Although others have used our story to generate a false online rumor about these armed UGVs, the nature of those "technical issues" that Gotvald mentioned in his statement, and that Qinetiq and Foster-Miller have yet to address directly, remains a mystery. Until someone can explain why SWORDS lost its funding, and what exactly it is — and isn't — being used for in Iraq, the rumors are likely to continue. If this is the dawn of the era of robotic infantry, things are off to a decidedly rocky start.""

Armed Robots Not Actually Gone From Iraq 263

NightFalcon90909 writes "You may have heard that armed robots were yanked from Iraq after a gun started to swivel without it being told to do so. 'A recent news report that armed robots had been pulled out of Iraq is mistaken, according to the company that makes the robot [Foster-Miller] and the Army program manager. 'The whole thing is an urban legend,' says Foster Miller spokesperson Cynthia Black, of the reports about SWORDS moving its gun without a command.'"

Take your work seriously but never take yourself seriously; and do not take what happens either to yourself or your work seriously. -- Booth Tarkington