Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century

Amy Goodman interviews P.W. Singer, author of Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century

P.W. SINGER: Yeah. There’s a section in the book. I call it “Soldiers of Fortran,” after the old software program Fortran. And there’s a great story in it, which actually encapsulates some of the weird ways this is going, where a group of college students fundraised money to do something about Darfur, and they ended up actually raising about a half-million dollars. It went well beyond their wildest dreams.

And so, then they explored whether they could hire their own private military company. And they called—you know, sent messages out via email, and a number of private military companies called them back, to their dorm room, and one of them actually offered to lease them some drones and—to use in Darfur. And the kids were talking about this. They didn’t imagine it would take off like this, but it did. Now, fortunately, some other people spoke with them and said, “Hey, this is really not the best use of the money that you fundraised.”

But it points to how these systems, they’re not just accessible to militaries. As you noted, they’re being used by DHS, by police agencies. And, of course, many of them use commercial technology. For $1,000, you could do it yourself. You can build the version of a Raven drone. And so—


P.W. SINGER: Well, it’s a little more complex than we can go into on the show, but basically there’s a do-it-yourself kit for building very similar to a Raven drone. And the point here is that you have—

AMY GOODMAN: And the drone shoots people?

P.W. SINGER: That drone isn’t armed. It’s the ability to sort of toss it in the air, and it could go off and, a mile away, show you what’s on the other side of that hill. Now, of course, you could probably jury-rig it yourself to do bad things.

Full Story: Democracy Now (video and transcript)

See also: Call Off Drone War, Influential U.S. Adviser Says


War in the Age of Intelligent Machines

Japanese robot to chat lonely elderly out of senility

This is a bit sad.

Japan’s growing elderly population from will be able to buy companionship in the form of a 45-centimeter (18-inch) robot, programmed to provide just enough small talk to keep them from going senile.

AFP: Japanese robot to chat lonely elderly out of senility

(via Last Word Blog)

Tattooing Robot Unveiled at Hi-Tech Trade Fair

A young engineer has created a robot tattoo artist:

Freddy’s computerised brain has a complicated programme for creating the designs that are constantly being improved and redesigned before being etched forever and for free on the bodies of volunteers at the trade fair.

Ananova: Tattooing robot unveiled at hi-tech trade fair

(via Warren Ellis)

Military to send robots into combat

Robots could be replacing human soldiers on the battlefields in the near future:

Keating said that, so far, it’s impossible to make robots completely independent of humans on the battlefield.

But the day is coming when American soldiers will fight alongside robotic comrades ? even if those robots aren’t carrying weapons, Thorpe said.

Fox News: Military Robots Prepare to March Into Battle

(via Fark)

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