Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Droid May Kill Ape

Apparently it's more than my coffee maker than wants a certain amount of freedom, now the US military have proposed a new set of rules for having robots engage in combat. Bottom line - they can kill other robots, but not the humans that run them.

There's gray here; weapon 'systems' might include items such as standard issue rifles, and they could be targeted, as Lewis Page (from the Register) notes:

“If people or property isn't a military objective, we don't target it. It might be destroyed as collateral damage, but we don't target it. Thus in many situations, we could target the individual holding the gun and/or the gun and legally there's no difference.”

Which seems to suggest that a robot could decide, under Mr Canning's rules, to target a weapon system such as an AK47 for destruction on its own initiative, requiring no permission from a human. If the person holding it was thereby killed, that would be collateral damage and the killer droid would be in the clear. Effectively the robot is allowed to disarm enemies by prying their guns from their cold dead hands.

Rough Type wrote this up as well. Why do always have to go for all the marbles? Can we just experiment with rights for the Roomba for a while, before we start getting into the Ape-killing scenario. I'm sure Dr. Zaius is turning over in his grave.


marcashwell said...

Sounds like I, Robot. The robots had a similar code of conduct. Then, so did the machines in the Matrix, and Terminator and...

Mark Ontkush said...

Hi marcashwell,

thakns for posting. It's amazing how the movies always predict the future!