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The experiment involved 1,000 robots divided into 10 different groups. Each robot had a sensor, a blue light, and its own 264-bit binary code “genome” that governed how it reacted to different stimuli. The first generation robots were programmed to turn the light on when they found the good resource, helping the other robots in the group find it. The robots got higher marks for finding and sitting on the good resource, and negative points for hanging around the poisoned resource. The 200 highest-scoring genomes were then randomly “mated” and...

(Last post on battlefield robots.) An issue of battlefield robots that has not received, so far as I can tell, sufficient attention is what happens when battlefield robots are deployed against the US. The assumption seems to be that robots are going to be so complicated and expensive that only the US, and maybe a handful of others, such as Japan, will be able to deploy and maintain them. What happens if that is wishful thinking? What happens instead if it turns out that once the investment in R&D is...

One of my favorite issues of the New York Times Magazine is its “year in ideas” issue, which comes annually in December. Because OJ is a repository of things related to battlefield robotics and law and ethics, I wanted to flag for your attention the item by Dara Kerr, “Guilty Robots.” [I]magine robots that obey injunctions like Immanuel Kant’s categorical imperative — acting rationally and with a sense of moral duty. This July, the roboticist Ronald Arkin of Georgia Tech finished a three-year project with the U.S. Army designing prototype...

NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross has a great interview with P.W. Singer of Brookings (and coordinator of the Obama campaign’s Defense Policy Task Force) about his new book concerning battlefield robots, Wired for War. Ken and others have written extensively about the use of battlefield robots on this blog and elsewhere, so I won’t re-hash the various legal, moral, and strategic issues here. (But do take a moment to look at this creepy video of a four legged robot.) Instead, I want to highlight a few interesting points from...

...suggestion and blog in 2013 about robots, technology, and the inter-relationships with international law, international organizations, globalization more broadly. I think Chris is right to say that we reflexively think about domestic law when it comes to these areas, but there are many issues in international economic law, as well as the economics of globalization more generally. Here’s a question I plan to explore across all the places I blog in 2013, including OJ – I’m thinking about offering a course in robots and the law, a research seminar, in...

(I fear wearing out my welcome at Opinio Juris and wearing out its readers’ patience with so many posts on battlefield robots. So I will post this and one more short one, and then move on to some other topics.) Among the reasons why the US military seeks to develop battlefield robots are (as noted in my first post on robots): force multipliers, force protection, and a technological counter to violations of the laws of war by the other side. By that last, I mean that the other side fights...

...under review are: Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century By PW Singer Penguin Press $29.95 512 pages War Bots: How US Military Robots Are Transforming War in Iraq Afghanistan, and the Future By David Axe Nimble Books $28.36 88 pages Moral Machines: Teaching Robots Right from Wrong By Wendell Wallach and Colin Allen OUP £15.99 288 pages This essay, in keeping with the third book, is primarily about the question of robotic autonomy – autonomous systems for use of force by a robot. That...

...government to be as untrustworthy as others, you might disagree. (Exercise for the reader: but not necessarily so.) 5. Re "remote control robots," excellent point! (One which could have more profitably been made some 30-odd comments ago.) Remote control (RC) robots (depending on your definition) are already in use, and will become increasingly so. Autonomous robots will gradually arise as RC ones become increasingly able to perform independently. This is a purely practical matter. If the robots are unable to function acceptably past a certain independence level, then the military...

Professor Charli Carpenter (of UMass Amherst Political Science Department) and I had a lovely conversation over the weekend about battlefield robots. Well, actually it was an interview for a project of hers, so she let me do pretty much all the talking. She has now posted some thoughts of her own, in highly interesting, highly recommended (for that small chunk of the world interested in battlefield robotics and the law and ethics of war, anyway) posts at two different blog sites. (I manage to mix up the two posts some...

Chris mentioned earlier the NPR interview with Brookings Institution scholar PW Singer on his new book, Wired for War. I am naturally reading the book as we speak, but for those wanting a useful, clear, short take from Singer himself, check out the Winter 2009 issue of the Wilson Quarterly, and Singer’s cover article, “Robots at War: The New Battlefield.” (The whole article appears to be available at the link. Hooray! I’ll be commenting on the article in an invited set of letters that the WQ will publish in the...

...machine-applicable language. Is there anything different about it being a machine? Or is the problem of autonomous battlefield robots, as a matter of law and ethics, simply one of translation – to try and achieve how the ideal soldier would behave? These are some of the questions I want to take up later this week about genuinely autonomous battlefield robots. Meanwhile, if you would like some further reading, some of the most fascinating work in the area of ethics and law applied to autonomous battlefield robots is being done by...

Over the years a few of us have written issues concerning battlefield robots. (See, for example: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.) Sometimes, we had links to remarkable videos of quadruped robots stomping through forests. Those robots and videos were made by Boston Dynamics, a company that started from an MIT research group. Besides its designing quadruped robots, Boston Dynamics gained further renown when, in 2013, it was acquired by Google as part of that company’s broad push into robotics. Just last month, one of Boston Dynamics’ new videos wen viral;...