Science

Experts are surprised by a new military robot equipped with a sniper rifle

Recently, the company specialized in the development of military devices Ghost Robotics presented a robot dog worthy of the worst science fiction scenarios, equipped with a sniper rifle. As expected, this announcement did not go unnoticed, as experts had not hesitated to harshly criticize the robot dog intended for military use.

Relatively little information has been released regarding the craft, but according to an Instagram post by SWORD International, a weapons manufacturer that designed the rifle, the machine is called “SPUR”, for a special purpose unmanned rifle (special purpose ). The SPUR probably represents the first Ghost Robotics creation equipped with a weapon. According to SWORD, the remotely controlled cannon offers “precision fire up to 1200 meters”.

According to some experts, this technology marks an important milestone in the development of robots capable of killing, raising ethical and legal questions about its authorization and use. In particular, we interviewed Toby Walsh, Professor of AI at UNSW Sydney.

Trust My Science: What do you think of this technology? Is it dangerous for our future?

“Like thousands of my colleagues, other AI researchers, I am deeply concerned about these kinds of developments. We don’t know how autonomous these robots will be, ”says Walsh. But we have seen a technically similar robot used semi-autonomously by Israel recently to assassinate Iran’s top nuclear scientist, he adds.

A non-autonomous machine yet, but not for long …

So far, we don’t know how self-sufficient the different systems of the Ghost Robotics robot dog are. If at the moment its movement is controlled by a human, the firing system could very well be automated in the future, at least partially. Not to mention, many armed organizations around the world already use semi-autonomous, sometimes homemade drone systems, some of which seem very effective.

“I hope this adds urgency to the ongoing discussions at the UN to regulate this space and silence voices that say the technology is far from perfect,” Walsh said, referring to Ghost Robotics’ robot dog.

Of course, there are a few different opinions, including that of Michael Horowitz, a professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania and an expert on autonomous weapons systems. He said he viewed Ghost’s robot dog as similar to the type of armed drone already used by many international armies.

“Given that the system is controlled by humans, and that other countries have developed armed and unmanned robotic ground systems, I am not sure that this system raises new ethical questions beyond those raised by any system. ground, ”Horowitz told Futurism. “But he would need to know more about the details of the system to be sure.”

A way to crush your competitor Boston Dynamics?

The decision to put together a robot dog puts Ghost ahead of its weapons competitor Boston Dynamics, which has surprised the world with its technical demonstrations but has publicly pledged not to put together its designs. An easy way for society to be at the forefront of an area that is still in high demand, that of weapons technologies.

Remember, Boston Dynamics got very upset earlier in the year when artists mounted a paintball gun on their robot dog Spot, which is very similar in size and function to Ghost’s, based on their Q-UGV Vision 60 model.

PS: this robot looks like the one from an episode of the ‘Black Mirror’ series. It is not surprising. It takes us to a dystopian world that we find in this series. But let’s not forget that we don’t have to end on ‘Black Mirror,’ ”Walsh writes after his first reply. “Discussions are underway to regulate the deployment of these weapons. We must urge our political leaders to resume these discussions urgently. “

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