Monday, February 9, 2009

The Matrix is Closer Than You Think

Found this book review over the weekend. It looks like the Matrix (or the Terminator depending upon your age) is a lot closer to reality than I thought. The review itself is a crazy enough read that I am going to pick up the book. I'll post if it is as interesting as I hope.

A few key quotes:

The irony is that the military will want it [a robot] to be able learn, react, etc., in order for it to do its mission well. But they won’t want it to be too creative, just like with soldiers. But once you reach a space where it is really capable, how do you limit them? To be honest, I don’t think we can.

The reality is that the human location “in the loop” is already becoming, as retired Army colonel Thomas Adams notes, that of “a supervisor who serves in a fail-safe capacity in the event of a system malfunction.” Even then, he thinks the speed, confusion, and information overload of modern-day war will soon move the whole process outside of “human space.” He describes how the coming weapons “will be too fast, too small, too numerous, and will create an environment too complex for humans to direct.” As Adams concludes, the various new technologies “are rapidly taking us to a place where we may not want to go, but probably are unable to avoid.”

So, despite what one article called “all the lip service paid to keeping a human in the loop,” the cold, hard, metallic reality is that autonomous armed robots are coming to war. They simply make too much sense to the people that matter. A Special Operations Forces officer put it this way:

“That’s exactly the kind of thing that scares the shit out of me. . . . But we are on the pathway already. It’s inevitable.”


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Dividends and Preferences by Hank Heyming is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.