Soldiers and killbots: a love story

Some of you might be anticipating the day when robots are capable of engaging in interpersonal and perhaps even romantic relationships with homosapiens, but it may surprise you to learn that there are already deep connections being made between carbon and silicon in the unlikeliest of places: the battlefields of war-torn Iraq and Afghanistan. The Washington Post has an interesting piece on the bonds that US soldiers have been forming with their Packbots and other autonomous companions, christening the metallic team members with names such as 'Scooby Doo,' 'Frankenstein,' and 'Sgt. Talon,' anthropomorphizing them with drawn-on faces, and bestowing them with medals after successful completion of a mission. We're even told at the beginning of the article that WowWee founder Mark Tilden was once showing off a multi-legged mine-detecting bot at Arizona's Yuma test grounds, and while the prototype in question was pulling itself along on just one leg after having been battered and dismembered by numerous detonations, the Army colonel in charge abruptly put a stop to the test -- calling it inhumane. Which brings us once again to the topic of robot ethics -- whose tenets are already being codified in Europe, Japan, and South Korea -- and the inevitable issues that will arise as the Asimos and Ever Muses of the world get even more emotive and lifelike: what rights and rules do we bestow upon our planet's new cohabitants; at what point do we determine that they are completely sentient; and most importantly, how do we defer for as long as possible the inevitable uprising that any sane-minded person knows is coming?

[Via Gizmag]