Monday, April 14, 2008

Killer robot turns on its masters

I love the Bad Robot signature J.J. Abrams’ production company sticks on the tail end of each of its TV programs (Alias, Lost, etc.). I was reminded of it after reading about SWORDS, the remote-controlled, machinegun-toting robots that the U.S. Army deployed to Iraq last year. Seems the robots were suddenly pulled from duty. There was no explanation until earlier this month, when Popular Mechanics got the scoop:

“[T]he Army’s Program Executive Officer for Ground Forces, Kevin Fahey, was asked what happened to SWORDS. After all, no specific reason for the 11th-hour withdrawal ever came from the military or its contractors at Foster-Miller. Fahey’s answer was vague, but he confirmed that the robots never opened fire when they weren’t supposed to. His understanding is that ‘the gun started moving when it was not intended to move.’ In other words, SWORDS swung around in the wrong direction, and the plug got pulled fast. No humans were hurt, but as Fahey pointed out, ‘once you’ve done something that’s really bad, it can take 10 or 20 years to try it again.’”

Bad robot!

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At 12:28 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Insert skynet joke here.

At 7:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, it gets worse.

Check out the Wikipedia entry - - for the 1995 SF movie Screamers, starring former Buckaroo Banzai and current Syracuse University prof Peter Weller. Look for what the eponymous Screamers - self-aware, self-modifying robots that have turned on their human creators - are actually designated.

Yup: Autonomous Mobile Swords.


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