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Where Do You Stand On Killer Robots?

03 May

Angry MobI assume here in America, this issue will shake down along political lines since that’s what everything else does. Even the Boston Bombing turns out to be political – did you hear all that shit last week? It was like the opposite of 9/11.

“See?” Everybody said. “This is exactly why we’re right about whatever we were already talking about! Screw you, Everybody Else!”

One would think we could all get along with regards to killer robots, but that’s not the vibe I’m getting off this country right now, dude. My first guess would be that Republicans would be all for killer robots, reasoning then that they have the right to bear them because of the air-tight Second And Only Amendment and their typical academic status as constitutional scholars.

But on the other hand, fifty percent of Republicans in a recent poll said that they think the citizenry might have to take arms and revolt against the federal government pretty soon here. Even if they have the right to their own killer robots, one has to reason that the federal government would have more of them. Maybe killer robots are like Obamacare – Super Duper Bad.

It’ll be quite an occasion for popcorn, watching Fox News decide that for all of them in a single news cycle. PEOPLE OF NASCAR! WE HAVE RENDERED OUR DECISION ON KILLER ROBOTS!

Too much? That might have been too much, I’m sorry about that one.

Let me back up a little bit. Here’s a BBC News article entitled Campaigners Call For International Ban On “Killer Robots.” And no it’s not a joke, it’s not a cartoon, there’s a real woman named Jody Williams, from the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, and she has a pretty good point.

We shouldn’t be too surprised about the killer robots; we’ve been talking about drones for years.I’ve never really understood why people act like drones are so bad. It seems to me that we’ve been sending teams of covert humans to kill people and blow stuff up for decades. Remember The Bridge on the River Kwai? Way shorter movie with drones, right?

Anyway, we can’t act like the morality is new – we already kill folks, we already blow stuff up.

Nick FuryI’m not even sure we should knock it off. I mean, I suspect that we should knock it off, sure. But I’ll bet there’s a whole lotta shit going on in the world that I don’t know anything about. They have to cut the heads off some serpents and all that. And they have to arm certain groups of pricks to get certain more controllable pricks in office in countries that have stuff we’d like to get, stuff we’d have an easier time getting if we could control the pricks in charge.

That really does appear to be how we roll, and I might not like the sound of it and you might not ether, but I don’t see either of us hitting the fence for Mexico. We’re complicit in it, and we shouldn’t pretend that we’re not.

All right then, groovy. So, morality aside, we send out teams to kill folks. It would be a lot cooler if they could fly their guns over instead, that way the only thing we could lose would be the guns.

And that’s drones – flying, remote-control camera guns. If we’re going to kill folks, I’d rather do it that way. Call me crazy.

But that doesn’t make me Pro Killer Robot. The distinction, according to the gang over at The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, is when there’s no one flying the camera gun. It’s just flying around, killing.

Soon we’ll be able to build drones that don’t take orders from a person, little artificially intelligent war birds flying around deciding for themselves who to shoot and what to blow up. This technology, they tell us, is right around the corner and there is no reason to believe the world’s scientists will all collectively agree, That’s Too Evil, Let’s Not Do That.

Evil RobotsAs we all know, scientists have been skewing Evil for quite some time now. Hey did you hear that most bacteria will be immune to all known antibiotics very soon, and that we’re putting basically zero time and energy into figuring out what to do about it?

Sure, but we’re nipping at the heels of artificially intelligent death machines. What could go wrong?

Ah, and here I think I’ve found the fault line along which the two parties will divide. Speaking for the liberals, Ms. Jody Williams – and you know she’s speaking for the liberals because she has a Commie-Terrorist Nobel Prize for bringing about a ban on anti-personnel land mines.

“As people learn about our campaign, they will flock to it.

“The public conscience is horrified to learn about this possible advance in weapons systems. People don’t want killer robots out there.

“Normal human beings find it repulsive.”

I’m not sure why she’s speaking in Approximate Haiku Format, but that’s probably why I don’t have a Nobel Prize. Regardless, it does seem like that will be our attitude on the liberal side. Gross, we don’t need killer robots we need schools! And bike trails!

And then speaking for the Republicans, Roboticist Professor Ronald Arkin from the Georgia Institute of Technology:

“The most important thing from my point of view is that we do not rush these systems into the battlefield.

A moratorium as opposed to ban – where we say, ‘we’re not going to do this until we can do it right’ – makes far more sense to me than simply crying out, ‘ban the killer robots’.

“Why should we do that now?”

Good point – it’s important to call Right Nowsies, in case we get a hankerin’ for some killer robots later on. We don’t want to flip-flop. And who knows, there might be a way to make a bunch of cash off of killer robots. Now, if only someone who owned a killer robot company could get elected Vice President, he could get his illiterate stooge President pal to start a war somewhere, ram that funding through. Make some Killer Robot Cheddar.

And rushing the systems to the battlefield – that IS the mistake they’re always making in Killer Robot Movies. They turn on the killer robot and set it to kill and damn it, it’s killing everybody!

more robotsYou have to take it nice and easy with your robot armies. Don’t go running off all pell-mell, tumble bumble. Put your thinking cap on, this is serious.

If we get all hysterical now about killer robots, Professor Ronald Arkin reminds us, then we won’t have time to really carefully consider how badass it would be to have them. Who knows, maybe we can make them so they’re nice to us, and killy only to say, well, folks who are different. Folks who hate freedom. That sort of thing.

And again, if you outlaw killer robot armies, then only outlaws will have killer robot armies. Is that what you want you naive, draft-dodging, bunny-kissing communist?

Anyway, the upcoming hilarious partisan debate aside, I’m all for signing up for this Ban on Killer Robots, but I think it’s kind of silly and misguided. See, we won’t have any idea that anyone has Killer Robots until they have Killer Robots. And then we’re going to I guess say ,”Hey, Remember? We agreed no killer robots!”

And because of the Ban, they’ll have to turn off their Killer Robots and hand ’em over. Cause that’s how the world works, that’s how Killer Robots work, and that’s how the mad scientists who create them work.

How far away is this stuff? Well, the article also quotes a directive issued by the US Department of Defense in November 2012, that all weapons with a degree of autonomy:

“shall be designed to allow commanders and operators to exercise appropriate levels of human judgment over the use of force”.

Make sure and mull over the ominous use of the word “appropriate” in that statement, and then have yourself a nice night’s sleep.

 

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