UPENN Constructing “Autonomous Robots” for the Military”
Yes, it sounds like a bad sci-fi novel and no, this isn’t a joke. In an article featured in the University of Pennsylvania Almanac titled “Penn Engineering’s Largest Research Grant in School History to Lead Robotics Consortium,” Dr. George Pappas, Dean of Penn Engineering stated “Our goal is to combine scientific principles with new engineering technologies to make autonomous aerial and ground robots work together, work independently, adapt, survey and ultimately become a reality in the field.”
The goal,” the article states, “is autonomous machines that operate with little or no direct human supervision and can support security or rescue personnel operating in dangerous environments. In venues as disparate as buildings and caves, the machines must be able to organize into sub-teams and clear and secure areas, track hostile targets in a three-dimensional environment and find victims or explosive devices by crawling, climbing, flying or hovering.”
In the single largest grant that UPENN has ever received, the Army Research Laboratory will provide Penn Engineering with $22 million plus over ten years to invent and improve technology “that will put unmanned machines on the front lines of battle.”
Recently in Iraq, a gun-equipped robot malfuntioned and turned its weapon in the wrong direction. While it may be a leap of logic to say that robots are rising up against the human race (the gun did not fire) it still raises some questions.
What happened to R2D2 and Robbie the Robot? Wasn’t artificial intelligence supposed to elevate humanity to another level of living and free people from the endless labor of daily life? Didn’t Issac Asimov predict that the 21st Century would commence with the construction of super computers that control the world economy, evenly dividing up the Earth’s resources so no one goes hungry? I guess the global economy has other plans for the future. Hasta la vista, baby.