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From artificial mammal brains to prosthetics that feel like real limbs, the military’s blue-sky researchers are aiming to bring man and machine closer than ever before.
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"DARPA doesn’t just want machines to get smarter; it wants them to work better, together. We’re talking about drones, which have already changed how the U.S. wages war. But the potential of drones is far from untapped and this year’s DARPA budget is brimming with research for new ways to leverage advances in robotics. The $5 million “Swarm Challenge” looks to see if a flock of small drones can all play well together. It involves the development of algorithms that would allow a number of small unmanned systems to work in unison and solve problems. Darpa envisions the drone hive-mind could be useful supporting troops in air, ground and maritime operations and could even help out in obstacle-clearing and search and rescue operations."
Aerial drones are about to become an everyday part of our lives. This is an industry in its infancy and agriculture will be the launch point and proving ground for many others.Farmers will become thousands of times more precise in how they apply chemicals and fertilizers, saving themselves millions in the process.Saving farmers 1% on inputs like herbicide and pesticide, and increasing their yields by 1%, that alone is a multi-billion dollar industry.In the end, the world will grow far more food, to far more exacting quality standards, under virtually any weather conditions. And drones will be an essential part of making this happen.
The United Nations on Thursday was dealing with a surprisingly pressing issue: killer robots.In Geneva, the U.N.'s special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, Christof Heyns, called for a moratorium on the development of drones that are programmed to target and fire without human intervention. “War without reflection is mechanical slaughter,” he said. “In the same way that the taking of any human life deserves at the minimum some deliberation, a decision to allow machines to be deployed deserves a collective pause, in other words, a moratorium.”
What is the role of robots and drones in wars and how will they shape the future of the US military?
Technology is forever trying to stay one step ahead of the spatially challenged, those people who never know exactly where they are on a street grid or how to get where they're going. Have no internal compass? There are maps for that. Befuddled by maps? There are smart phones. Still don't know which way to point your Android? Now, there are drones.
It's not often that we get to witness aviation history being made, but when we do, it's often awesome. Such is the case with the U.S. Navy's X-47B which just became the first unmanned aircraft to land on an aircraft carrier.
With most robot-like machines that exist today, any serious problems can be easily traced back to a human somewhere, whether because the machine was used carelessly or because it was intentionally programmed to do harm. But experts in artificial intelligence and the emerging field of robot ethics say that is likely to change. With the advent of technological marvels like the self-driving car and increasingly sophisticated drones, they say we’ll soon be seeing the emergence of machines that are essentially autonomous. And when these machines behave in ways unpredictable to their makers, it will be unclear who should be held legally responsible for their actions.With their eyes on this apparently inevitable future, some specialists have started to argue that our legal system is woefully unprepared—that in a world in which more and more decisions are made by entities with no moral compass, the laws we have are not enough. In fact, some are arguing that it’s time to do something surprising: to extend our idea of what it means to be an “independent actor,” and perhaps even hold the robots themselves legally culpable.
The dawn of the 21st century has been called the decade of the drone. Unmanned aerial vehicles, remotely operated by pilots in the United States, rain Hellfire missiles on suspected insurgents in South Asia and the Middle East.
Now a small group of scholars is grappling with what some believe could be the next generation of weaponry: lethal autonomous robots. At the center of the debate is Ronald C. Arkin, a Georgia Tech professor who has hypothesized lethal weapons systems that are ethically superior to human soldiers on the battlefield. A professor of robotics and ethics, he has devised algorithms for an "ethical governor" that he says could one day guide an aerial drone or ground robot to either shoot or hold its fire in accordance with internationally agreed-upon rules of war.