If anyone wants to read up on the DRC the two latest press releases are here:
This is of course the hard part. But this robot was built to be a common platform for DARPA to build a project around: the DARPA Humanoid Challenge. The idea is to supply a very expensive robot to a few groups and a simulation of it to lots of groups, and have them compete on the control software. No guns this time around.
Probably before these things are autonomous we're going to have these as human controlled drones, which is a pretty scary thought all by itself.
However that's just how our brains work.
Unlike ATLAS... we're only Human
I don't quite get the complaint though. If the goal was to get the most readers good information than any article that makes it to the front page can be a vehicle for contributing your links too. Lots of things change whether or not something makes it to the front page, but if the topic is interesting enough at least one of the stories will and that serves the purpose.
Dictators run into trouble when the armies decide they won't attack a local population because, hey, it's their families and friends we're talking about. Robots eliminate that pesky detail. Imagine how a secession crisis, based on, say, widespread spying by the government on its own citizens, might be dealt with today versus fifty years from now.
If you were a resident of Afghanistan, the concept of a war against the robots is already a reality. From that perspective, is a fairly minor detail that the robots are currently piloted by people and not computers. And I expect the AI would get effective pretty quickly - I'm sure they will develop some effective way to identify a potential combatant based on either holding a weapon or some body language/temperature cues.
This technology might not be field ready right now, but it won't be long. It's reasonable to expect that with some work, it would far exceed human capacity upon a few key dimensions - running speed, targeting ability, carrying armor/defensibility. Just like no human being can outrun even the crappiest car over any reasonable distance.
"Why bipedal war machines? That is stupid, just push them over and they now are useless."
After that, I never figured why someone would build a bipedal war machine, even though I still have my nerdgasms watching all the mecha anime, movies and games...
Anyone has a idea of why the hell someone would build a bipedal war machine?
As to whether it's ideal (versus whether it'll work), that's a very good question. Perhaps if you can actually make it work very effectively, it's 1) maybe (?) cheaper than having three legs, 2) more agile than a tank tread style and 3) easily navigates in/around and uses human things.
Clearly in the future there will be a plethora of robotic war machine styles for different purposes, for the same reason we use different weapons for different purposes.
That depends entirely on whether said machines can right themselves after being tipped over.
But, the way I see it, human cities and human technology are made for our bipedal forms, two legs and hands with five fingers and such. Having a robot match that form makes it easier to exploit urban terrain and implements in the environment. I mean, which would you theoretically rather have, a robot that is a vehicle, or a robot that can operate any vehicle it comes across?
Off the top of my head...
1.) I'd have think there's something to bipedal locomotion considering the evolutionary success it has had.
2.) We're bipedal. As long as pilots we'd recognize as human are involved, having an analog to the kind of movement they've necessarily trained a lifetime for seems sensible.
If I were designing robots for battle, I would probably make them something like armed jackrabbits with wings designed to attack in swarms.
People get confused operating other body-forms, and when strapped into a waldo style remote rig they need something close to human for ease of use?
Robot soldiers will be far less expensive than human soldiers in every respect 50 years from now. A robot soldier can be powered down, and stop consuming resources when not needed (which is most of the time).
If you could produce a robot soldier that did what humans do, with a 5 year shelf life, and you could sell it for $400k to $500k, they'd sell like crazy. Just match the 5 year cost of a human soldier, then by removing the human soldier casualty angle it becomes well worth it to a government.
However, I think your numbers for the cost of humans are way low. The US army put the cost to train a soldier at $150'000. In addition, there is pay, and veterans benefits. The US will spend 1.5 trillion on veterans between now and 2022.
I think they'll be far more useful as support units.
I suspect we will look back on these guys as some of the early pioneers of the yet-to-come ubiquitous robotics era.
[Dick Jones directs Kinney to threaten ED-209. Kinney points a gun at the robot.]
ED-209: Please put down your weapon. You have 20 seconds to comply.
Dick Jones: I think you'd better do what he says, Mr. Kinney.
[Alarmed, Kinney quickly tosses the gun away. ED-209 steps forward and growls menacingly.]
ED-209: You now have 15 seconds to comply. You are in direct violation of Penal Code 1.13, Section 9.
[Everyone in the room panics; Kinney tries to hide among them, but is pushed back into open range]
ED-209: You have 5 seconds to comply. 4. 3. 2. 1. I am now authorized to use physical force.
Furthermore, since defence agencies are financing the development, it's more likely they will program the robots to be sharp shooters before they learn the more complex tasks of pulling people safely out of rubble and giving them CPR.
During the cold war we learned the hard way that time lowers costs of technology, and soon everyone had nuclear weapons.
I am sure the same will happen with robotic warriors and I fear the day when a terrorist can pilot a drone over my home and kill me with the same prejudice we use when piloting drones in the middle east today.
My only hope is that some politicians also understand this and move to create international robotic warrior regulations and treaties. I am skeptical of this happening however. It is always more fun to lord your power over your enemies today than to have some foresight.
50 years ago the US govt had amazingly cool technology (SR-71, satellites, nukes, computers, submarines, lasers, chemical weapons) but it was kept halfway secretive.
Just because some people are uncomfortable with new technology shouldn't mean that the government is untrustworthy or evil. If anything, the transparency makes them more trustworthy.
The stuff the CDC works with is 1,000 times more destructive than any humanoid robot prototype. Imagine if they posted a video, "well, this little vial of liquid will cause your skin to fall off and your organs to melt."
Do you think other countries are going to avoid this type of research? Humanoid robots have been developed in Japan for 20 years.
Would not the dog/four legged system work out better? You could still have it manipulate items with forelegs if you wanted but keep the inherit stability
This robot => (more steps here ) => C3-PO => Terminator => Roy Batty.
DARPA has a great record of pushing hard on technology that might sorta kinda work, but if it does it will have huge impact. Some of it works out better and faster than expected, with the ARPAnet as the prime example.
Think about bigdog trying to walk through a house. It would have a lot of problems, because the house wasn't designed for something that looks like that.
As you can see, balance is not an issue with quick enough joints and good software. The current ATLAS can easily balance on one leg. The other leg is just there to provide locomotion.
This is not going to be useful in the military. The only advantage it may have over humans is increased accuracy, and even then, a mobile gun platform on wheels will do a much better job.
This robot is less mobile, less reliable, less endurable, much less smart and much less flexible than any average soldier. The only applications I can think of are extreme weather conditions (i.e. Antarctica and the Sahara desert), and even then it would probably fail fast.
I don't think it's complete garbage, it's just that I don't see it being close to useful in real military applications this century.
Cheap, good humanoid robots will fill the slave niche in society, without the ethical problems (at least in terms of the slaves themselves - it might not be good for us to be slave owners, but we'll see how that pans out). Who said the researchers are or should be thinking about only this century?
By the way, a mobile gun platform on wheels is not going to be great in built-up areas. This is why we don't have combat soldiers fighting in powered wheelchairs, and why Daleks suck.
I think that is a bit too optimistic. Political battles over robots' rights are inevitable.
Edit: I think this is also relevant: http://www-formal.stanford.edu/jmc/robotandbaby/
As long as we're still killing and eating animals, we can make robots work for us.
Also, ideally we'll build them to like it. Then it'd be unkind to let them rest.
"Pseudo-military" operations, i.e. in our rapidly militarizing civilian police forces, perhaps not so far off.
Both services are deploying robots as fast as they can. Thousands are in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Those are not humanoid.
Tracked vehicles run by joystick are now used operationally for IEDs. There are resupply and "lug extra cargo" missions that Big Dog is very close to fulfilling right now. There are "augment human teams" missions that smaller legged, tracked, and wheeled platforms are getting close to fulfilling. (Go into this building and look around, take up this position and guard this building entrance while the rest of the team goes in elsewhere.)
The humanoid robot can perform these tasks in a more versatile way, as mentioned elsewhere in these comments, because it can adapt to many real world situations where humans are present (e.g., doors, stairs, ladders, vehicles).
I think this is incredible actually. It's worth noting they tend to try not to show power tether feeding the thing. But once they get it all nailed it's gonna be amazing. Truly awesome.
This robot also uses a laser range finder for mapping, but there are trade offs between the two approaches, so often they are used together.
In real life, we know how trivial it would be to completely overwrite the operating system with arbritary software.
(Let alone that the Three Laws are necessarily the best core ethical code to stick in your bipedal sentient robots.)