Robot Revolution? The Disruptive Potential Cannot be Overstated

The Pentagon already deploys 11,000 UAVs and over 12,000 ground robots. Don’t be surprised if they’re the ones that save the day when the next big disaster strikes. __

The U.S. military is interested in the use of robots in combat because they can more confidently be sent into dangerous situations without the worry of loss of life. __ Spot the Robot Dog

Spot, the robot in the photo below, is being used for advance recon purposes. But it is easy to imagine such robots being armed with automatic firearms, grenade launchers, and flame throwers.

Automated machine-gun emplacements already exist, capable of implementing deadly force without human intervention.

…. automated machine guns capable of finding, tracking, warning and eliminating human targets, absent of any human interaction already exist in our world. Without clear international regulations, the only thing holding arms makers back from selling such machines appears to be the conscience, not of the engineer or the robot, but of the clients. “If someone came to us wanting a turret that did not have the current safeguards we would, of course, advise them otherwise, and highlight the potential issues,” says Park. “But they will ultimately decide what they want. And we develop to customer specification.” __

It is not yet clear to most of the world’s militaries, how they should integrate these capabilities within their human forces.

The Israeli Defence Force is integrating its autonomous vehicles — land, air, sea, undersea — into one joint command. (via NextBigFuture) Other militaries tasked with protecting or attacking larger areas, will have to integrate autonomous units within larger human units.

If you think you understand the many ways that militaries will utilise robotsyou really don’t. Potential environments for military robots include atmospheric vehicles, robotic boats and ships, submarine robotics, underground robots, and robotic outer space vehicles and infrastructures.

Meanwhile, civilian applications for autonomous robots are rapidly expanding.

Terraforming the moon with autonomous vehicles

Robotic apes may be sent to space:

Not only must a robot be able to see, drill, grind, collect and even sieve, it needs to get around a hostile environment in extreme temperatures and in a vacuum.

Robots also must offer the greatest strength and versatility for the least payload and have the ability to fix problems if something goes wrong.

With the moon 380,000 kilometers away, there’s little margin for error and Kuhn says it may take three or four generations before the lunar chimp is completely space proof.

“You have to use different technologies – you can’t use the same electronics that you use on Earth.” __ CNN

Robots are a natural match for space exploration and exploitation. Enterprises such as asteroid mining will use a wide array of robots — many of them autonomous.

We will need to think of autonomous robots in different ways — including as robot swarms. Swarm robots may be designed to function on land, in atmospheric flight, underwater, on a water surface, underground, in space, or on a planetary or lunar surface. Just as a type of “intelligence” seems to emerge from an ant colony or bee hive, we may well see robotic hive intelligences emerging from robot swarms.

A rapid expansion of commercial and scientific use of submarine robots and terrestrial mining robots is inevitable. More on autonomous robots in general.

Evolutionary robotics uses evolutionary computation to evolve robotic control systems for autonomous robots (Wikipedia article). Such robotic systems can adapt to changing environments, and rapidly move beyond the factory programming. These systems are still relatively primitive, but as autonomous robots move into increasingly hostile environments, their ability to adapt to unpredictable and rapid challenges are likely to grow.

Autonomous Colonies of Autonomous Robots

As autonomous robots evolve, they could conceivably break away from human constraints, to develop autonomous colonies of their own — in environments too hostile for humans to follow. When humans finally develop the means to travel to the outer solar system and beyond, will they find robotic civilisations already there? The chances of that are growing with time.

Autonomous robots will learn to use 3-D printing and other disruptive technologies as everyday tools. With a convergence of autonomous robots, 3-D printing, molecular printing / assembly, and evolutionary machine intelligence, many new technological inventions and innovations are likely to occur with minimal human input.

This is not Kurzweil’s technological singularity, but it is something to watch.

Humans had best learn to make themselves more anti-fragile, robustly resilient, wise, intelligent, creative, and long-lived. At least, if they wish to see what happens next.

This entry was posted in Disruptive Technologies, drones, expansive future, innovation, Military, Robots, Space Future, Technology, Weapons and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Robot Revolution? The Disruptive Potential Cannot be Overstated

  1. Matt Musson says:

    Small drones that drift into enemy harbors and attach to their submarines like limpets would be a nice touch. Then, in response to IFF they immediately start making noise! “I’m here. Shoot your torpedo at me!” So much for stealthy subs.

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