Anyone else a bit concerned with autonomized weapons?

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In summary, the video discusses how a machine gun like this could be used in terrorism, and how it would be much easier to build and use than drones or land mines. It also points out that the technology is not very far off from being available to the average person, and that eventually this kind of machine might roam the streets freely shooting people.
  • #1
dipole
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Saw this video today on facebook.



I wonder how soon it will be before one of these is fitted with a machine gun. What if one of these was built or stolen for use in terrorism? In a densely populated city, how long could one of these roam freely gunning people down before police or military could stop it?

That might seem paranoid, but in an age where human beings are already gunning people down en mass on a fairly regular basis, it seems highly plausible that if this technology were to proliferate, they'll use machines to accomplish the same goals, but probably with much greater effects.
 
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  • #2
We already have drones that shoot missiles, why does that 4 legged machine scare you more?
 
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  • #3
Greg Bernhardt said:
We already have drones that shoot missiles, why does that 4 legged machine scare you more?

I believe the difference is that this machine is largely autonomous, drones are still under human control.
 
  • #4
Robots + guns could pose a danger to society. Clearly it must be the robot part of the equation that is the greatest danger.
 
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  • #5
dipole said:
I wonder how soon it will be before one of these is fitted with a machine gun. What if one of these was built or stolen for use in terrorism? In a densely populated city, how long could one of these roam freely gunning people down before police or military could stop it?
What is the difference between this machine roaming freely shooting people and someone like the Parkland shooter?
 
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  • #6
Greg Bernhardt said:
We already have drones that shoot missiles, why does that 4 legged machine scare you more?

Those drones cost hundreds of millions of dollars, require some kind of airport or large space to take off from, can't be concealed or transported...

This thing could probably be build for a few thousand dollars (at least in a couple years) and can fit in the trunk of a car. There's a huge difference here.
 
  • #7
dipole said:
Those drones cost hundreds of millions of dollars, require some kind of airport or large space to take off from, can't be concealed or transported...

This thing could probably be build for a few thousand dollars (at least in a couple years) and can fit in the trunk of a car. There's a huge difference here.
I bet that cost more than a few thousand dollars and something like that isn't even on shelves to buy. Why would someone take the time to buy it, program and arm it when they can just do the shooting themselves?
 
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  • #8
Ygggdrasil said:
Robots + guns could pose a danger to society. Clearly it must be the robot part of the equation that is the greatest danger.

That's not the issue - don't drag this off topic. The point is that if humans+guns are a problem, then it should be obvious that robots+guns could pose an ever bigger problem.
 
  • #9
dipole said:
The point is that if humans+guns are a problem, then it should be obvious that robots+guns could pose an ever bigger problem.
Eventually sure, but do you think this kind of sophistication and practicality is realistic in our lifetime? (outside of countries defense budgets)
 
  • #10
Greg Bernhardt said:
I bet that cost more than a few thousand dollars and something like that isn't even on shelves to buy. Why would someone take the time to buy it, program and arm it when they can just do the shooting themselves?

Because the aim of terrorists is to kill as many people as possible.

Your question is extremely naive... have you been following world events the past two decades or so? That's like asking "Why would terrorists learn to fly planes and crash them into buildings when they could just drive a car into a building?"

Come on... get with it.
 
  • #11
dipole said:
Because the aim of terrorists is to kill as many people as possible.
A truck bomb can kill hundreds and requires little sophistication. Why would they arm a robot dog?
 
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  • #12
You could argue that a land mine is a crude autonomous weapon.
 
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  • #13
dipole said:
In a densely populated city, how long could one of these roam freely gunning people down before police or military could stop it?
Probably not very long. The police would likely just run a truck over it. The reason terrorist situations are so challenging is because there's a massive incentive to take the terrorist alive so that you can pump information out of him. With a robot, there's no such incentive. Just run it over with a truck and hand the remains to engineers for forensic info.
 
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  • #14
A robot is mobile. A robot like that could wander the halls of an office building, school etc. and seek people out, and could cover a much longer range than a single bomb can. A bomb, in most cases, is actually quite localized.

I could easily ask you the question of why any human at all ever went on a shooting rampage when they could have just built a bomb. The fact is shooting rampages are a real phenomenon, and in a few years robots like this could probably do them better than any human.

A human can be stopped with a single bullet, a robot like that could be armoured to render it almost immune to small arms fire. A humans aim is imprecise and effected by stress and fear. A robot can aim perfectly every time, putting nearly every bullet it fires into the head of a human.

I'm not saying this is the end of the world, but I think it's worth considering where things may be going.
 
  • #15
TeethWhitener said:
Probably not very long. The police would likely just run a truck over it. The reason terrorist situations are so challenging is because there's a massive incentive to take the terrorist alive so that you can pump information out of him. With a robot, there's no such incentive. Just run it over with a truck and hand the remains to engineers for forensic info.

Are you kidding me... don't post false information you can't back up. You're claiming that if a terrorist is killing people, police will just let him be until they can figure out a way to take him alive?

The police try to end situations as quickly as possible. Often they can't do that without putting their own lives at risk, which is what prolongs a situation. You assume a robot like this will stupidly stand in the middle of the road while a truck of police officers drives towards a live machine gun. How are police going to drive a truck into it if it's moving between buildings? What police officer is willingly going to to drive towards a firing machine gun, bullet proof glass or not?
 
  • #16
dipole said:
You're claiming that if a terrorist is killing people, police will just let him be until they can figure out a way to take him alive?
No, police attempt to neutralize the threat as quickly as possible. But there is a massive incentive to capture these guys alive.

dipole said:
What police officer is willingly going to to drive towards a firing machine gun, bullet proof glass or not?
In a world...where we have robot shooter dogs but not remote-controlled cars...
 
  • #17
dipole said:
I could easily ask you the question of why any human at all ever went on a shooting rampage when they could have just built a bomb.
At least in the US, guns are much easier to obtain than even the most rudimentary explosive chemicals.
 
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  • #18
CWatters said:
You could argue that a land mine is a crude autonomous weapon.

Yes, and landmines kill thousands of people every year and are extremely effective at their intended use - denial of area.

What is your point?
 
  • #19
TeethWhitener said:
At least in the US, guns are much easier to obtain than even the most rudimentary explosive chemicals.

True, so the guns already exist... that video shows two working examples of robots that already exist, it's only one small step to put them together.

Despite how quick everyone has been to try and shut down any discussion of this topic, no one has made a single valid point that would suggest this technology doesn't come with some special concerns.
 
  • #20
dipole said:
Despite how quick everyone has been to try and shut down any discussion of this topic, no one has made a single valid point that would suggest this technology doesn't come with some special concerns.

Some moderate disagreement does not equal shutting down discussion. Please reel in your hostility.
 
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  • #21
Greg Bernhardt said:
Eventually sure, but do you think this kind of sophistication and practicality is realistic in our lifetime? (outside of countries defense budgets)

There are a lot of issues here lurking under "defense budgets". Suppose "separatists" in an eastern european country got ahold of this technology during civil strife. (Whether separatists did this or it was a front for a nearby larger neighbor I'll leave with you.) I could be referring to something ongoing right now, or I could be referring to the Balkans in the 90s or something else...

Another issue: suppose you have a wobbly dictatorship and civil strife. Some dictators clamp down on protesters by ordering the army to shoot them down. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't -- a lot of soldiers have qualms about slaughtering their own people. Machines (Terminators?) have no such qualms and simply execute orders. There are similar issues during coups -- failed and successful ones.

As usual, machines allow you to scale things in a way that humans don't. This should be very spooky stuff
 
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  • #22
Well it's a little frustrating when a simple suggestion, which is founded on a set factual premises (1. guns exists, 2. people use guns to kill other people all en mass all the time 3. people are building autonomous robots which can navigate complex environments very well 4. such technology will likely be easy to scale), is met with a flurry of poorly thought out responses and rebuttles which could easily be disregarded with a few moments consideration...

It's not like I'm the only person to ever suggest this idea. Plenty of scholars including people many on this forum would claim to idolize have raised the same issue.
 
  • #23
I think it's important that we think carefully about what we ought to be concerned with. When @dipole raise the issue of an autonomous robot that can move about freely and worry what happens when a gun is attached -- such a robot will not necessarily have much utility in the situation of modern warfare, and terrorists are unlikely (at least in the immediate future) are unlikely to obtain these given both the cost involved in building and/or acquiring such technologies.

What we should be more concerned with are developments in sophisticated AI systems that are capable of selecting and engaging militarily with targets without human intervention -- so called lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS). See the following links where Berkeley computer science professor Stuart Russell discusses the risks and ethical concerns of such LAWS:

http://news.berkeley.edu/2015/05/28/automated-killing-machines/

https://www.nature.com/news/robotic...intelligence-1.17611?WT.ec_id=NATURE-20150528
 
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  • #24
Sentry robots are already available with autonomous capability, or semi-autonomous depending upon where the "human" is placed within the loop.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samsung_SGR-A1

Next step, as @dipole has suggested is to provide mobility, as in post #1, along with the sentry technology, tweek it, and it can become a more aggressive component of a military, para-military, or heaven forbid, "a subversive organization", a promotion from simple defensive capabilities.
Presently, though, a merger to produce a killer robot has insufficiencies, as there is no specification for a particular target, just a random selection of targets within range, which may or may not have the desired effect. Give it time.
 
  • #25
dipole said:
Yes, and landmines kill thousands of people every year and are extremely effective at their intended use - denial of area.

What is your point?

My point is that that autonomous weapons effectively exist already. It's just a matter of degree.

Incidentally a lot of the work being done for self driving cars will be directly applicable to autonomous weapons. For example terrain navigation and people detection and avoidance. We're also already discussing some of the moral issues that self driving cars may need to have. So I disagree with the view that autonomous weapons are a long way off.
 
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  • #26
The Future of Life Institute and Stuart Russell professor of Computer Science at Berkeley produced a video of the possibilities of autonomous weapons in this case a microbot swarms.

 
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  • #27
Borek said:
I believe the difference is that this machine is largely autonomous, drones are still under human control.
I agree that's a difference, but why does it make the autonomous worse?
 
  • #28
russ_watters said:
I agree that's a difference, but why does it make the autonomous worse?
I suppose only once AI surpasses human intelligence. Essentially a Terminator.
 
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  • #29
dipole said:
Those drones cost hundreds of millions of dollars, require some kind of airport or large space to take off from, can't be concealed or transported...
Please be more reasonable. The *most* expensive military drones cost a few tens of millions, not hundreds of millions (Google tells me a Reaper costs $16 million). Serious attacks by amateurs are already happening and probably cost only a few thousand dollars:
https://globalriskinsights.com/2018/01/swarm-drone-attack-syria-uav/

To me, this is a much more serious threat.
This thing could probably be build for a few thousand dollars (at least in a couple years) and can fit in the trunk of a car. There's a huge difference here.
Yes, there is a huge difference and you're on the wrong side of it! To be frank, I think you're losing sight of just how difficult a time we're having making terrestrial robots. We are *not* close to Terminator style robots. We *already have* low-cost, autonomous drone attacks.
True, so the guns already exist... that video shows two working examples of robots that already exist, it's only one small step to put them together.
Ehem. A working robot that took 15 seconds, with some struggle, to open a door. It is far from ready to attach a gun to it to become a killing machine. If you're running from it you'd be out the next door before it finishes opening that one!

And people are already shooting guns from drones too:

 
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  • #30
Greg Bernhardt said:
I suppose only once AI surpasses human intelligence

Why does it have to exceed human intelligence?
 
  • #31
gleem said:
Why does it have to exceed human intelligence?
Then you lose the advantage of using the robot. If you are smarter, just do the shooting yourself. The Parkland shooter almost got away because of his human intelligence. I suppose it comes down to goals. If the goal is pure killing numbers, I'd still think there are better, cheaper and less sophisticated ways of killing mass people than using a robot.
 
  • #32
Greg Bernhardt said:
Then you lose the advantage of using the robot.

What if the robot is suicidal? It just has to get to its target.
 
  • #33
gleem said:
What if the robot is suicidal? It just has to get to its target.
If the entire plan is to just bull rush the target then I agree there is no difference and a robot is a better choice since it can be replaced.
 
  • #34
256bits said:
Sentry robots are already available with autonomous capability, or semi-autonomous depending upon where the "human" is placed within the loop.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samsung_SGR-A1
That's a good point: the Navy has been using similar systems (Phalanx CIWS) for just short of 40 years. But you might ask yourself why the Las Vegas shooter didn't use one.
Next step, as @dipole has suggested is to provide mobility...
Yes, but that's a really big next step.

I also think @dipole should put some thought into how something like this would/could actually be deployed. The SGR-A1 weighs 258 lb and doesn't include a robot. A Terminator-style mobile version would probably weigh 1000 lb...

...though you could mount one on a self-driving car. Maybe this robot dog idea came up because we had a school shooting a couple of days ago, but I really don't see the advantage of it. It's just too cumbersome and that's an inherent problem, no matter how good it is.
 
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  • #35
russ_watters said:
I agree that's a difference, but why does it make the autonomous worse?

I don't think it does, but on the psychological side most people prefer to think/feel they are in control (no matter what the logic/statistic says).

OTOH, there is always Frederic Brown's http://www.roma1.infn.it/~anzel/answer.html :wink:
 
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