I'm getting tired of extremetech blogspam and sensationalism. This source video was posted yesterday by me and didn't really make it anywhere. It seems I should get a voting ring and embellish my titles a bit more.
I don't know. This pretty much looks like the Terminator to me. It just needs some good software and a gun. Google's self-driving car technology could be adapted into a formidable killing machine brain.
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.
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.
Terminator has always been one of my favorite movies, and reality has an uncanny way of getting us closer and closer to the fantasy. We justify this new technology in the same way - "it's for our protection"!
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.
That assumes the robots won't be radically superior at balancing than humans are; they will be. It also assumes you can push one over to begin with; you won't easily be able to. They'll be able to withstand far more force against them than a human can before falling over, and they'll have a nearly perfectly calibrated response to achieve rapid re-balancing.
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.
Perhaps it's worth noting that Boston Dynamics' earlier 'BigDog' robots were not bipedal and apparently built like a robotic pack mule. Bipedal examples may have uses as human analogs for misdirection in war, field testing testing equipment such as hazmat suits/armor, or for 'live fire' training exercises.
That is stupid, just push them over and they now are useless.
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?
If you find someone who has built a bipedal war machine, you should ask them. In the meantime, these machines were designed for disaster recovery. The author of the article is imagining what an army of them would look like on a battlefield but states pretty clearly that that's not what these are being designed for.
If I were designing robots for battle, I would probably make them something like armed jackrabbits with wings designed to attack in swarms.
I think this all hinges on when or if these things can get produced/maintained for less than or close to the cost of a human soldier. Imagine if these got down to $10,000 to produce. Then it would be cheaper to arm a 1-2MM unit militia of humanoid robots than it would actual human marines.
Human soldiers are exceptionally expensive. You can see that in both traditional foot-soldiers and in other areas like ships and planes, where the costs skyrocket because of needing to design around / for the safety of people first.
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.
The value of a combat robot is in avoiding casualties rather than cost savings. Casualties lose America wars, because it is a democracy, and it fights without an existential threat.
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.
Isn't this a nuclear weapon vs nuclear power type issue? We'll always have the capacity for evil, I'd expect an international ban on the use of robotic soliders after some period of mass destruction (we'll still have them sitting in a bunker just in case)
I don't think so. I don't see them being as destructive as that. I think by the time they get to a level that's bannable, there will be far greater warfare threats, like millions of inch-long artificially intelligent flying swarm syringes(OF DEATH) filled with arsenic.
I think they'll be far more useful as support units.
I think you're joking, but what you just said would make a great parody of the nuts over in that other thread that are hypothesizing that the NSA is possibly keeping 5D glass hard drive technology a secret from us.
[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.
Judging by the budgets of the army and law enforcement against the various wars, abroad and local (drug enforcement for instance), I doubt that a lot of these robots will find their way in the underfunded fire stations or emergency services...
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.
When the US uses robots like this in war (and it will) we will enjoy a significant reduction in casualties and probably an increase in battle victories. This will probably embolden future US leaders, similar to when the US had the only nuclear weapons.
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.
Having an international inspection system to watch for the development of nuclear weapons would seem a much easier task than one that would be needed to monitor for the development of robotic warrior/weapon systems. The pieces needed for the later can much more easily look like normal production/assembly tool development given that they are, in fact, largely the same pieces.
Just because they are being transparent with their research?
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.
Most robots are not bipedal, for the reasons you state, among others. But if we want humanoid robots ever, we have to get started working with the form factor. There are plenty of technical problems to solve that are specific to this kind of platform.
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.
A robot that drives a vehicle can be an integral part of that vehicle, likely far cheaper than a humanoid robot that fits in the seat (and also shares the human driver's disadvantage of poor peripheral vision.)
Disaster recovery, assistance and space applications (asteroid mining?) are the only real applications of these robots.
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.
There are many applications of humanoid robots when they become good and cheap. Right now they are neither, but DARPA is funding people to work on this.
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.
You are raising a good point, but you are probably wrong ("this century").
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'd like to know about its energy consumption, and how long would it operate with today's best battery technologies. That seems to me to be one of the bigger hurdles for turning this into something operational, but I might be wrong. Still, it's 330 lbs to move on two legs (future versions of course will be lighter, but, being military, it probably can't be all lightweight stuff).
Anyone here with more knowledge about this care to give their opinion?
The three laws worked really well as a literary device exactly because they are completely inadequate as an design / engineering / ethical tool. The stories are about the problems caused by the three laws, and how interesting they are. No one who has thought about it a bit, and certainly not Asimov, would seriously recommend them as an engineering solution.
Moreover, he sidestepped misuse of the tech by claiming that the Laws were "hard-wired" into the design of the positronic brain. Not only could be the Laws not be over-written, it was literally impossible in Asimov's universe to create a robot that was without them.
In real life, we know how trivial it would be to completely overwrite the operating system with arbritary software.