In 1984 the movie Terminator brought to live the dark dystopian fantasy of killer robots designed to ruthlessly hunt down human targets and destroy them. We’ve come a long way since then, and in the last 15 years, drone aircraft have been deployed by the military, although as far as we know, these still require a human being to pull the trigger before bombing whatever target has been selected for elimination.
Meanwhile, Boston Dynamics has been steadily revolutionizing the war-bot, preparing them far deployment against humans at some point, and their products are downright terrifying. Nevertheless, we still have not yet entered the era of autonomous killer robots being unleashed against human beings.
That said, oceanographic researchers are lauding the development of a new autonomous robot that will be released into the open sea and programmed to seek out and destroy species of invasive fish. The bots in question in this case are designed to hunt down lionfish, which have inadvertently been released into the Atlantic ocean and are causing significant harm to dozens of species of native fish and to coral reefs.
In a headline from Popular Mechanics magazine, the leap into a new age of automatic killing is phrased as an act of ‘saving’ something else, which in a way it is; however, the language being used foreshadows a soon coming day when autonomous bots will be released to ostensibly ‘save’ one group of human beings from another.
Now, doesn’t that sound nice?
And throughout the press release for the project, the act of killing a lionfish is referred to as ‘harvesting’ the lionfish, which also sounds so nice, implying something kinder and gentler than ‘seek and destroy.’
Developed by graduate students and researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, the new robot is designed to identify the target fish and kill it with a miniature robotic spear gun. It will glide along coral reefs scanning all of the fish it comes in contact with and use AI and machine learning to hopefully identify and neutralize only its target species.
“The goal is to be able to toss the robot over the side of a boat and have it go down to the reef, plot out a course, and begin its search,” said Putnam. “It needs to set up a search pattern and fly along the reef, and not run into it, while looking for the lionfish. The idea is that the robots could be part of the environmental solution.” [Source]
It’s like an artificially intelligent revolver looking around the sea shooting anything that matches its target profile, which is around 95% accurate, say researchers.
The robot will use a revolving carousel that WPI compares to the cylinder of a revolver, it will hold eight detachable spear tips. A motorized mechanism will thrust the spear’s tip into the fish body. When this mechanized shaft retracts, it will leave the spear tip within the fish’s body and the carousel will move on. [Source]
On the surface it sounds innocuous enough, as we all do love the thrill of technological advancement, but just as with any new technological development, any lessons learned from the research will be snatched up and put to use by the defense industry, which will turn them against human beings.
How long will it be before an ‘environmental solution’ is developed to rid the world of unwanted people? And once this cat is out of the bag, how long will it be before the first rogue robot goes on an accidental killing spree?
“The students also showed the system pictures of what it absolutely must not aim at—namely divers!” Putnam said. [Source]
As research in this sector continues at full speed, there are a few voices calling for caution, most notably the organization Campaign to Stop Killer Robots. The following clip is from a short film revealing the already realized potential of killer robots.
This is a harbinger of bad things to come, as once the notion of releasing autonomous killer robots into the wild becomes normalized, and warfare against whomever becomes autonomous, there will be no way to avert this tragedy and horror. What will happen when human beings lose control over the human force, and the world is set ablaze by armies of killer robots?