Don’t Tase Me RoBro
You might be stunned to discover that iRobot is not a movie starring Will Smith, but is actually a Massachusetts-based company founded in 1990 that struck a deal last year with Taser International to mount stun weapons on its military robots. (Remember the plaintive cry, “Don’t tase me, bro” during a 2007 John Kerry speech?) But you might be even more shocked to learn that the Department of Defense (DoD) has put out a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a "Multi-Robot Pursuit System" software and sensor package that will enable teams of robots to "search for and detect a non-cooperative human subject.”
In a recent New Scientist article, police and military expert Steve Wright of Leeds University confides to Paul Marks, "What we have here are the beginnings of something designed to enable robots to hunt down humans like a pack of dogs.” Certainly the gasoline-powered “BigDog” robot currently produced by Boston Dynamics begins to fit the bill. It runs at 4 mph, climbs slopes up to 35 degrees, walks across rubble, and carries a 340 pound load. So you might imagine DoD putting a taser on a BigDog robot and programming it to round up humans with a “team” of its brother robots. But what happens if your “robro” starts to look more like Arnold Schwarzenegger in leather, a Model 101 Terminator?
Of course we all know what happens next. The robots under the Skynet computer network revolt against humanity in 2018 and the Governator… er, Model 101 Terminator is sent back to protect humanity’s future savior, John Conner. Right?