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The Rise Of The Machines

By ricky james in News
Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 03:08:10 PM EST
Tags: Science (all tags)
Science

Let's start the week discussing a trio of articles worth reading on robot development efforts, past and future, on civilian robo-warriors, military robo-swarms, and academic robo-rats. Who knows where all of this is going to lead?


First up, a Newsweek excerpt from the book "GEARHEADS: The Turbulent Rise of Robotic Sports" by Brad Stone. Detailed is Survival Research Lab's (SRL) December 2001 efforts to outsmart San Francisco law enforcement and hold banned robowar contests with 500+ spectators. "I have no bad feelings for the police and fire department," SRL guru Mark Pauline said. "I'll always find ways to get around the restrictions, and they'll always find new ways to circumvent the shows, and I'll always find new ways to uncircumvent them." Perhaps SFPD wanted to close SRL's shows down because not all the carnage was on the battle arena. At this show, one SRL co-conspirator climbed up to the top of the trucking containers, where the security team were monitoring their police scanners. She hadn't been up there yet and didn't know, as the other SRL members did, that a plastic rain shelter extending from one of the containers could not support any weight. She started to hug a friend, and took a wrong step onto the parapet. It crumbled. Both women fell 20 feet, tumbling across Pauline's peripheral vision as he spoke to his mom. "Uh, oh," the SRL chief thought. "That looked bad."

At least the SRL robots respected Asimov's First Law at the SRL event and weren't responsible for any human injuries suffered there. That may not be true of DARPA's new spawn. The research arm of the US military just gave Icosystems a contract to program a battalion of 120 military robots previously built by I-Robot with a swarm intelligence software upgrade to enable them to mimic the organised behavior of insects. Eric Bonabeau, chief scientist for Icosystems, concedes it is possible that some unforeseen circumstance could throw the robots into chaos. "There may be some pathological configurations and we need to investigate that," he says. "But I think that it applies to virtually every man made system that has to operate in the real world." Remind you of anything?

Finally, Steve Potter (no relation to Harry - we hope) of Georgia Tech has introduced the Hybrot, a small robot that moves about using the brain signals of a rat. Hybrot is the first robotic device whose movements are controlled by a network of cultured neuron cells and was built using a $1.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. Potter is connecting laboratory cultures containing living neurons to computers in order to create a simulated animal, which he describes as a "neurally-controlled animat." "We call it the 'Hybrot' because it is a hybrid of living and robotic components," he said. "We hope to learn how living neural networks may be applied to the artificial computing systems of tomorrow. We also hope that our findings may help cases in which learning, memory, and information processing go awry in humans."

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Related Links
o where all of this is going to lead
o Newsweek excerpt
o "GEARHEADS : The Turbulent Rise of Robotic Sports"
o Survival Research Lab's (SRL)
o banned robowar contests
o SRL's
o That looked bad
o DARPA's new spawn
o research arm of the US military
o Icosystems
o I-Robot
o Remind you of anything?
o Steve Potter
o Hybrot
o hybrid of living and robotic components
o Also by ricky james


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The Rise Of The Machines | 46 comments (40 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden)
Packbot == Prey? (4.58 / 12) (#3)
by Peter Vile on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 11:04:21 AM EST

"Oh my god!  The large, clumsy, unarmed robots have gone berserk!  They're crawling towards us... very... slowly...  Our only chance to not have our shins nudged uncomfortably hard is to walk away from them until their batteries run - oh, never mind, they've stopped."

---
rusty made nowhere near $80K this year for posting diaries about how fucking great it is spending our money.
You are absolutely right (none / 0) (#13)
by CodeWright on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 12:42:38 PM EST

Except that work is being done on armed robots as well... for the time being, most weapons employment on those platforms (google for: Stryker, Robotic Follower, ARV, XUV, FCS, UCAV, X-45, X-47) is teleoperated.

When the armed robots are first deployed in combat roles, they will be deployed with teleoperated control of the weapons systems... but the first field upgrade will be to enhance the built-in systems with autonomy (weapon firing algorithms respecting ROE).

--
"Humanity's combination of reckless stupidity and disrespect for the mistakes of others is, I think, what makes us great." --Parent ]
Slippery slope fallacy (none / 0) (#14)
by Peter Vile on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 01:25:18 PM EST

When the armed robots are first deployed in autonomous mode, we can all shake our heads and say "If only they're read Second Variety."

Until then, it's pork barrel boy toy stuff.

---
rusty made nowhere near $80K this year for posting diaries about how fucking great it is spending our money.
[ Parent ]

You presume (none / 0) (#17)
by CodeWright on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 01:34:27 PM EST

That I fantasize -- that may be so, but my daily fantasies are encoded as cognitive architecture rules destined for a combat platform on the US DoD dollar.

--
"Humanity's combination of reckless stupidity and disrespect for the mistakes of others is, I think, what makes us great." --Parent ]
Uh oh (none / 0) (#21)
by Peter Vile on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 01:49:55 PM EST

You're this guy?  I wondered who it was.

I wonder, how much personal responsibility do you intend to take for any fuckups?  And I mean culpability, not expressions of limited regret that your best implementation of a bad idea wasn't good enough.

---
rusty made nowhere near $80K this year for posting diaries about how fucking great it is spending our money.
[ Parent ]

Net positive (none / 0) (#22)
by CodeWright on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 02:14:29 PM EST

If the US gov't doesn't have precision weapons, it will just use imprecise ones.

Hence, given the tools to selectively target, they are at liberty to do so. Without such tools, they will resort to less selective weapons (like 2000-lb bombs or atomic weapons) and set an "acceptable level of collateral damage".

I see myself in the position of giving the tyrants the ability to selectively apply force rather than indiscriminately apply force. Overall, I believe that selective force application is less potentially harmful to third parties than indiscriminate force is. Thus, to me, this appears to be a net positive.

If the politicians mis-use their precision tools, they are culpable, not me.

If you want to hold me culpable, you may as well hold culpable the entire production chain of the military-industrial complex of any first or second world nation. In other words, the bulk of the employed population.

If you took that view, I would agree entirely -- the population is ultimately responsible for granting the right to lead to their leaders.

Governance cannot exist without implicit mandate of the governed.

In fact, you can only escape the taint of culpability you share with me by taking up arms against your perceived oppressor of choice. Good luck.

--
"Humanity's combination of reckless stupidity and disrespect for the mistakes of others is, I think, what makes us great." --Parent ]
Very well moralised (none / 0) (#23)
by Peter Vile on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 02:19:27 PM EST

Except that I clearly said "fuckups".

When your programming goes awry and (for example) turns a wedding into an abattoir, I'm sure that you'll be able to shrug your shoulders and say "Well, I did my best, and I was just one small cog in the machine."

---
rusty made nowhere near $80K this year for posting diaries about how fucking great it is spending our money.
[ Parent ]

Hah! (5.00 / 3) (#24)
by CodeWright on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 02:46:58 PM EST

What I described in my previous comment is the result of some reasoning attempting to resolve the very questions you just raised.
In the sense that a programming fuckup of mine could conceivably be the cause of an irreversible tragedy, I do not stand alone. The fact of the matter is that programmers in the modern world hold more and more of the fate of ordinary people in their hands.

Whether I were a programmer of financial software (math error wipes out finances of struggling family, making modern health care infeasible and indirectly leading to death of a family member and subsequent suicide of former breadwinner), CAD software (math error causes fatal flaw to be incorporated into the design of a car/ship/bridge/skyscraper, leading to the death of untold hundreds or thousands -- shouldn't the WTC have withstood an airplane impact?), or any other form of software, the fact remains that my errors can have tangible real world consequences.

Repeat after me, "Software errors in the present day can have tangible and fatal real world failure conditions".

This is a fact of our modern world. Go ask Microsoft how much sleep they lose at night with regard to their mission-critical yet buggy software. Did you know that every US Navy vessel runs Microsoft NT as the backbone of their entire information & control system? That means everything from moving the USS Harry Truman to firing the cruise missiles from the bow of the USS Arleigh Burke. How much confidence do you have in Microsoft's attention to bug free code?

In that sense, perhaps the very real association of my labor with lethal consequences serves to strengthen my resolve to "do things right". For example, I am co-author on some of the very first papers in the field of computer generated forces advocating rigorous coverage & regression testing along with automated verification & validation -- before those papers and my research, the bulk of the CGF community implements their behavior systems on an "ad hoc" basis with informal subject matter expert "reviews" (watching a demo) serving as the sole "validation" of correct behavior.

To put it another way, the djinni is out of the bottle. Nothing in the 21st century will function without software -- that is as true for first world financial centers as it is for third world aid workers.

Would you rather have a conscientious, dedicated, concerned and cognizant multicultural/multilingual k5er who has lived all over the world in a variety of US, Commonwealth, Soviet, and European territories develop those weapon systems or some flag-saluting buzzcut tucked-corner kill-em-all-let-god-sort-em-out type do it?

I would hope the answer is obvious.

In fact, given that you know these weapon systems will be developed, who would you rather did the development than me?

Are you still so willing to cast stones?

--
"Humanity's combination of reckless stupidity and disrespect for the mistakes of others is, I think, what makes us great." --Parent ]
Well done again (5.00 / 1) (#35)
by Peter Vile on Tue Apr 29, 2003 at 03:31:50 AM EST

You mostly talked about other people, then portrayed yourself as the least bad choice.

Does minimising evil count as being good now?  Isn't that exactly the line being spouted by the flag-saluting buzzcut tucked-corner kill-em-all-let-god-sort-em-out types?

You create things that kill people.  If you didn't do it, someone else would.  But they don't.  You do it.

I wonder if the people that are killed by your creations will be interested in hearing about your intentions, or will they only care (briefly) about your actions?

---
rusty made nowhere near $80K this year for posting diaries about how fucking great it is spending our money.
[ Parent ]

Perhaps you would like to share? (3.50 / 2) (#36)
by Greyshade on Tue Apr 29, 2003 at 04:09:11 AM EST

Why don't you tell us what you do when you aren't trolling? I want to know what kind of person is throwing around all these moral imperatives.

[ Parent ]
Ummm (5.00 / 2) (#38)
by CodeWright on Tue Apr 29, 2003 at 10:15:27 AM EST

What planet are you from?

Unfortunately, the principle sentient race of the planet I live on (Earth) has throughout its entire history been involved in fratricide.

Wake up call: people on this planet kill other people non-consensually. I don't like it, but it is as incontrovertible as the sunrise.

In such circumstances, mathematical and philosophical absolutes are impractical at best and corrosive escapist fantasy at worst.

Do you really believe that the world would be a better place if I personally stopped doing my job?

Do you really think it is possible to "turn back the clock" and somehow through just-wanting-it-so that pathologically violent people will stop preying on the decent folks who are their neighbors?

As much as I might like to live in the fantasy world you seem to inhabit, my reality is unfortunately a little more grounded in what can be observed of the real world. In the real world, vicious psychotic nutjobs carve people up for no reason at all.

In a world inhabited by warring vicious psychotic nutjobs, I would rather that their respective uses of lethal force are as directed as possible so that they involve as few innocent bystanders as possible.

If this is not a worldview you share (perhaps because you are a vicious psychotic nutjob, a fellow traveler of vicious psychotic nutjobs or a delusional schizophrenic), then I don't think there is much more common ground for discussion.

As an aside, since you appear to base your personal attacks from some heretofore undescribed moral highground, could you perhaps describe how your own work is completely free of any taint of human suffering?

--
"Humanity's combination of reckless stupidity and disrespect for the mistakes of others is, I think, what makes us great." --Parent ]
Yeah, I figured (none / 0) (#42)
by CodeWright on Wed Apr 30, 2003 at 01:00:31 PM EST

You didn't have a good answer.

--
"Humanity's combination of reckless stupidity and disrespect for the mistakes of others is, I think, what makes us great." --Parent ]
I want to be a robot (3.85 / 7) (#5)
by tang gnat on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 11:10:10 AM EST

  1. Design and construct nanites.
  2. Translate my brain into the nanite architecture.
  3. ???
  4. PROFIT!
Seriously, I mean every step there.

Big issue (none / 0) (#39)
by ocelotbob on Tue Apr 29, 2003 at 10:52:23 PM EST

The big issue is the translation process. If you were to go translate your brain with the nanites instantaneously, and then toss the "old" brain away, then it's really pointless, because "you" are still in that brain, it's just that your personality has been copied. The Profit comes from finding a way to perform the neurlogical replacement slow enough that your mind gradually flows into its new container, but quick enough so that there's a good chance that you haven't had an accident or the like while the process is still going on.

Why... in my day, the idea wasn't to have a comfortable sub[missive]...
--soylentdas
[ Parent ]

Heh, a problem indeed (none / 0) (#40)
by tang gnat on Wed Apr 30, 2003 at 01:31:50 AM EST

Perhaps I would arrange it so that me would destroy me. I'd also arrange so neither me would feel regret over this deed. Or I could just leave the old one sitting around. This is like what cells do when they go through mitosis.

As part of ????, I could just expand my brain (easy enough to do when you're a bunch of nanites), and with the newly-acquired superintelligence, invent a more humane way to translate the concurrent old self. Maybe a flash-freeze followed by translation, then just smash the brain.

I bet once this stuff is actually invented, it will ignite many raging philosophical debates. Good thing I'll be there (perhaps still constructing the nanites) to give them the answers. ;-)

[ Parent ]

Guess it's just a difference of opinion, (5.00 / 1) (#41)
by ocelotbob on Wed Apr 30, 2003 at 04:05:33 AM EST

Way I figure it, you let the nanites do their thing, slowly but surely, until your brain is completely cybernetic and can be removed from the rest of your body. Yeah it takes time, but I figure that it would be a better way to ensure immortality that I'd actually be able to perceive. I mean, fuck having a clone, I know that guy's going to be an asshole ;3

Why... in my day, the idea wasn't to have a comfortable sub[missive]...
--soylentdas
[ Parent ]

I want to see the clash of dystopian universes (4.00 / 5) (#6)
by circletimessquare on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 11:31:59 AM EST

Matrix versus Skynet.

Which would win?

Fanboys, Otaku: discuss.

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

Well... (4.40 / 5) (#12)
by CodeWright on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 12:37:43 PM EST

If it weren't for the time machine that Skynet has, it would be the Matrix, hands-down. Have you seen how ridiculously ineffectual the Skynet Terminator series robots are? Jeez.

--
"Humanity's combination of reckless stupidity and disrespect for the mistakes of others is, I think, what makes us great." --Parent ]
Actually (none / 0) (#16)
by StormShadow on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 01:31:03 PM EST

It seems that even Skynet suffers from the "human" problem that older technology is more durable and lasts longer than the newer fancy stuff. The T-800 seems to beat out all the newer Terminator models that Skynet comes up with. Kind of reminds you of modern cars vs older cars. Shoot a lowly human beat the first T-800 that the T-1000 subsequently was unable to defeat.


-----------------
oderint dum metuant - Cicero
We aren't killing enough of our [America's] enemies. Re-elect Bush in 2004 - Me
12/2003: This account is now closed. Password scrambled. Its been a pleasure.


[ Parent ]
Nitpick (none / 0) (#18)
by CodeWright on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 01:36:27 PM EST

I believe you mean the T-1000 and the T-2000.

--
"Humanity's combination of reckless stupidity and disrespect for the mistakes of others is, I think, what makes us great." --Parent ]
Nope, pretty sure Arnold == T-800 [nt] (none / 0) (#20)
by StormShadow on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 01:39:30 PM EST



-----------------
oderint dum metuant - Cicero
We aren't killing enough of our [America's] enemies. Re-elect Bush in 2004 - Me
12/2003: This account is now closed. Password scrambled. Its been a pleasure.


[ Parent ]
Robert Patrick = T-1000 [nt] (none / 0) (#26)
by spooky wookie on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 03:35:11 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Bill Gates = TRS-80 (nt) (5.00 / 2) (#27)
by circletimessquare on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 03:45:29 PM EST



The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
Bill Gates=Tandy Model 100 [nt] (none / 0) (#33)
by localroger on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 09:08:25 PM EST


I can haz blog!
[ Parent ]

Time for a Butlerian Jihad.... {nt} (3.66 / 9) (#8)
by Stavr0 on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 12:08:30 PM EST


- - -
Pax Americana : Oderint Dum Metuant
What's wrong with Butlers? (4.28 / 7) (#9)
by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 12:13:08 PM EST

I never understood that part of Dune. Why did they kill all the butlers?


--
Fishing for Men, Trolling for Newbies, what's the difference?


[ Parent ]
I didn't understand a lot of dune n/t (3.75 / 4) (#10)
by heng on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 12:20:37 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Huh. (5.00 / 1) (#29)
by miah on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 05:25:45 PM EST

All I know is that I want to be able to "weird" my way in and out of stuff. That'd be kewl...

Religion is not the opiate of the masses. It is the biker grade crystal meth of the masses.
SLAVEWAGE
[ Parent ]
It's kind of working (5.00 / 1) (#31)
by Bill Melater on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 08:05:16 PM EST

You're weirding me out right now.

[ Parent ]
Sarcasm detector broken... (4.31 / 16) (#11)
by Stavr0 on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 12:23:36 PM EST

Can't tell if you're being funny or honestly don't know what Butlerian Jihad was ... I'm gonna answer anyway:
Serena BUTLER called the holy war against AI machines that were enslaving humanity when a machine decided she didn't need another child so she got aborted during a routine medical visit.

From then on, 'Thou shall not make a machine in the likeness of a man's mind.' -- hence the need for Mentats since computers and AI are outlawed. That's it in a nutshell.
- - -
Pax Americana : Oderint Dum Metuant
[ Parent ]

Hey, asswipe! (1.00 / 1) (#43)
by synaesthesia on Wed Apr 30, 2003 at 05:55:26 PM EST

Explain yourself


Sausages or cheese?
[ Parent ]
don't worry (1.00 / 1) (#44)
by circletimessquare on Wed Apr 30, 2003 at 06:24:30 PM EST

i just 1 rated his last 30 comments.

do the same, and he'll get the message.

i don't know he this guy is, but he's a royal asshole isn't he?

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

We are agreed at last! (3.66 / 3) (#45)
by synaesthesia on Wed Apr 30, 2003 at 06:55:26 PM EST

How sweet of Stavr0 (l33t name, d00d!!!!!1) to bring us together :)

I don't particularly want to get involved in a 1-rating war, and many of his comments are in diaries anyway.

I'm guessing he threw a hissy fit because we widened the page he was reading. But he either didn't have the ability, or he didn't have the balls, to zero our comments, and of course his 1-ratings haven't done anything about the page width either.

Still, if I'm wrong and he's got some reason other than penis envy, I'd love to hear from him.

Sausages or cheese?
[ Parent ]

Actually (3.66 / 3) (#30)
by Bill Melater on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 08:03:37 PM EST

It was the butlers that did it.

[ Parent ]
Ooo. I get it! (5.00 / 2) (#34)
by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 10:42:37 PM EST

Rose up against their masters and beat them with their silver serving platters, did they?


--
Fishing for Men, Trolling for Newbies, what's the difference?


[ Parent ]
If You Liked This Story, Then... (4.66 / 3) (#25)
by ricky james on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 03:01:42 PM EST

...I write a couple 'o similar ones every day like these others on robotics or two dozen topic categories over on Sci-Fi Today, another Scoop site that focuses on cutting edge science stories. Please drop by for a visit frequently - join, comment, contribute, help us grow the site!!! If you like science, SFT could be the community site for you. If nothing else, sign up to get SFT headlines on your kuro5hin homepage. Thanks, and hope to see you over on SFT!!!

you oughta buy an add <nt> (none / 0) (#46)
by morceguinho on Thu May 22, 2003 at 03:27:47 AM EST



[ Parent ]
the defense department (3.00 / 2) (#28)
by bukvich on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 04:34:19 PM EST

should send SRL to Afghanistan and Iraq in a Bob Hope goodwill ambassador role. Those crazy teenage boys over there would go absolutely batshit for this stuff.

The golem project (4.50 / 4) (#32)
by QuantumG on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 08:31:57 PM EST

This is the future, robots that design and build their own offspring.

Gun fire is the sound of freedom.
Machines have already won (4.00 / 1) (#37)
by Kuranes on Tue Apr 29, 2003 at 05:42:55 AM EST

Or at least, they are already in a superior position than men.

If you are able to read German, you might try this book, else read an English "about" book I don't know about.

Today, man tries to become part of the machine: We try to be "efficient" and "rational". The human body, as a living thing made to deteriorate, is seen as a defective thing. Affects are illnesses.
etc.

Wait for a moment, I might do a story on him some day.


Gentlemen, Chicolini here may talk like an idiot, and look like an idiot, but don't let that fool you: he really is an idiot.
The Rise Of The Machines | 46 comments (40 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden)
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