Saturday, February 21, 2009

Navy-funded report warns of war robots "going Terminator"

ONR Report [pdf]

The report urges programmers of war-robots to include ethics subroutines, resembling a warrior code of ethics.

Patrick Lin, the chief compiler of the report, says: "There is a common misconception that robots will do only what we have programmed them to do. Unfortunately, such a belief is sorely outdated, harking back to a time when programs could be written and understood by a single person."

He says the key to avoiding robotic rebellion is to include "learning" logic which teaches the robot the rights and wrongs of ethical warfare. This logic would be mixed with traditional rules based programming. "We are going to need a code. These things are military, and they can’t be pacifists, so we have to think in terms of battlefield ethics. We are going to need a warrior code."

So... The military will pay programmers to write ethics subroutines? As a programmer with a philosophy major... I might one day have a job! Terminator scenarios: Employing those with unmarketable skills since 2009.

I'm reminded of something a friend (Dan, who probably got it from a scifi fanfic) once wrote:
"What is the Universal Truth?"
"The geeks shall inherit the Earth!!"
"Because they’ll save our asses someday!!"

Hmm. The more I think about this, the more I wonder if it's something I'd actually like to do with my life. My views on artificial ethics and intelligence are certainly unconventional, but I do think about it a lot. I have built robots. I have programmed for the military. I have read a great deal on ethics and logic. And I thoroughly enjoyed it all. This might be one of the few jobs that could successfully compete with the Internet for my attention span...

I'll be back. To make sure that you're doing alright.
Would you like a cup of tea?
DailyTech Article
Fox News Article (polemically hilarious)
ONR Report [pdf]


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