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Screen Shot 2013-05-18 at 9.32.14 AM

Back in April, Dan asked you to name the best gun to take out a robot. After watching this video of Boston Dynamics’ PETMAN robot doing the Rocky thing, I began thinking about robocops on a more, uh, human level. If a bad guy/armed insurrectionist facing PETMAN PO-PO knows that the LEO in front of him isn’t flesh and blood, if taking one out isn’t felony murder, why not shoot to kill? In that sense, wouldn’t PETMAN PO-PO encourage and escalate violence? Your thoughts sci-fi fans, ’cause it looks like the future is now. Ish. Since the video autoplays, make the jump to see the PETMAN in all it’s ambulatory glory.

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    • Isnt there a ‘destroying gov property’ issue here? Sort of like killing a k9 metes out ‘killing a cop’ penalties?

    • Can you say Star Wars?

      Based on the liberal attachment of guy wires I would say they still have balance and stability problems. Wrap a bolo around its legs, tip it over, then watch and laugh while it tries to stand back up. Also not shown, is this robot working strictly by computer command or is there a man in a wired suit out of camera shot making the movements?

      Ancient history review – at Agincourt the French knights attacked en mass in heavy armor against English archers and yeomen without such protection. The solution was to knock the knight to the ground and then beat him to death with big wooden mallets while he tried to stand up again.

      Keep in mind also that these robots are NOT alive and it will be a long time before anyone is able to program anything like a self-preservation routine into their circuits. They will have a programmed mission, programmed instructions as to how to accomplish that mission, and no instinct for self-preservation, no fear of death, and a very limited ability to adapt to changing tactical situations.

      Not to mention I can’t imagine not being able to outrun one of those things.

  1. I would not have a problem scrapping a human if need be, taking out a fancy toy would not cause me any hesitation whatsoever. Though I imagine they may prove to be more durable than humans in many ways.

  2. How many Ceylons do you kill before one kills you. The Ceylons can be recycled or rebuilt if killed. You, not so much. Battling robots is a lot like fighting drones. If you’re fighting the machines and not the controllers you might as well not even start.

    • You have to survive the robot in order to take the fight to the controller. Plus, automomous robots that don’t need a “pilot” aren’t that far off.

      • Not far off AT ALL. When “new” military hardware is dragged into the light, it’s already ancient history. The lag time between operational technology and its unveiling is regularly 25-30 YEARS.

        The SR-71 Blackbird is a case in point: it actually became operational in 1966. It was two DECADES before the public saw this “new” piece of technology. For many years, the U2 and Blackbird both flew classified missions. The public was shown the U2 as the operative technology, and the Blackbird was flying too.

        Some of you will sputter and curse this “conspiracy theory”. Do yourselves a favor and LOOK IT UP.

  3. You can escalate all you like, but when it looks back and laughs at you ED-209 style style you might regret being so hasty!

    • As usual, nothing gets Hmmmmmmmm hot and bothered like the thought of the government killing and subjugating the citizenry.

  4. Interesting philosophical topic.

    I don’t know that robot po-po would necessarily encourage violence, but it would certainly remove a major factor in inhibiting violence. Shooting “to kill”, something that doesn’t live and breathe simply cannot/will not carry the same weight as smoking flesh and blood.

  5. If these robots are being used as police, I can guarantee they’re going to come standard issue with armor capable of resisting most small-arms fire, probably everything up to a .45ACP.

  6. The same way “they” have made it a felony to kill a police dog, it will also be a felony to destroy a police robot.

    • If it’s in full uniform (including face mask) as above, your friendly local DA will probably throw in an attempted murder charge as well (hey, you didn’t KNOW there wasn’t a flesh and blood cop in that suit, did you?).

      Sure, a good lawyer would beat it, but that’s not really the point. It is just one more charge that the DA can offer to ‘drop’ as part of your plea agreement.

  7. Seems like a more practical Police Robot design would be less humanlike and more Armored Machinelike to be more intimidating, lethal looking and appear to be damage resistant. Is this thing shown like a drone with a human controller in a remote location, or autonomous? Checking Boston

    • This is designed for testing Chemical Suits for Humans. The anatomical capabilities are impressive, however…”If I only had a brain…”.

    • “Thou shall not design a machine to replace mankind..” I believe Isaac Asimov rather fully explored the philosophical ramifications of I-Robot. What we can do with technology, and what we should do with it being two different things..

      • “thou shallt not make a machine in the likeness of a man” was, if I recall, one of the major causes of the Butlerian Jihad. Frank Herbert on that one, but it’s been a while since I read Dune.

    • Actually the humanoid appearance of the robot will help it better integrate into society. We humans like humans and we project human qualities onto everything. If the robots already appear human-like, it’ll only make our natural tendency to project ourselves onto them that much easier.

      • And if it’s not so hard after all to “kill” all sorts of things that look and seem human, maybe it will also be easy to kill all sorts of people who don’t seem human enough.

  8. Interesting, I wrote a law school paper on this topic, and examined how tort and criminal intent would attach to robots. It’s completely theoretical, but I learned that researchers believe liability would depend on how sentient the robot is. If it’s a drone or semi-intelligent, you may go after the controller or owner. If sentient, it may be liable if the law doesn’t (wouldn’t) require you to go after the operator first.

    I’m sure that anyone attacking them would be on the hook for destruction of property, or subject to new laws equating attacks on police bots as attacks on flesh and blood officers. Some jurisdictions treat police dogs that way, I believe, so there will be precedent on this issue.

    • There is no such thing as an intelligent or “sentient” machine. When you take off the possibly-humanlike exterior, all it is is a collection of nuts, bolts, gears, electric motors, and computer circuitry. It has no soul of its own, and never can have one. It is not self-aware, and cannot think for itself in any way. It may, however, perform a very convincing mockery of self-aware thought, because it is following it’s programming, which was designed to take into account every operational circumstance it was likely to encounter. A machine will never be a human life. When the laws are twisted to the point where a machine is regarded as equal to a human, that’s the time we will know we’d best try a 1776.

      • No one said anything about a HUMAN life. But that does not mean that computers will not one day, as many sci-fi authors for decades have postulated, self-aware and sentient. That was the whole point of I-Robot, Blade Runner, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and on and on. Just because that sentience is non-human, does that mean that we are free to enslave it? How, as a friend of mine asked, does that differ from the treatment of slaves in America a couple hundred years ago? Blacks were only 3/5 human…

  9. High tech problems are usually best defeated with low tech solutions. Fill a squirt gun with paint and aim for it’s eyes. You’ll need one of the plunger style ones that shoot a water jet to allow for the thicker liquid. Even if it has multiple sensors it won’t be difficult to map them all out, politicians love bragging about their new “tools” for public safety.

    • Long-wave IR and sonic imaging are paintproof.

      Steel bola; even if the thing can stand up to a howitzer, it’ll have limited strength.

      • Unless it was an actual warzone they would never allow IR only for targeting, no way for positive target recognition. I do like the bola idea tho, like tying up the legs of the imperial walkers in star wars.

  10. If they ever rolled out robo-popo it would be a safe bet they would apply a harsher felony to damaging or destroying it than felony murder. Humans are cheaper to replace and those ultimately in charge hardly care about them.

  11. I doubt you’d need a gun to defeat it. I’d like to see it walk or run on uneven ground and on different surfaces like long grass, gravel, dirt, mud etc. Like someone said above, a track driven robot would be much more effective but all you’d need to do then is find a doorway that it wouldn’t fit through or some stairs or a ladder. There is no substitute for the engineering feat that is the human body.

  12. Wait, does this mean that those pdw cartridges and those kinda silly AR/AK pistols are going to become tons more practical?

    Will 7.62×25 and TT33s see their usage extend into the 22nd & 1/2 century? Will 12ga slugs be designed with even more penetration expected?

    Will Bill the galactic hero save the princess from the planet of the robot slaves?! Tune in tomorrow to find out on The Future, coming at you whether you like it or not!

  13. I could see their practical application in traffic enforcement. But that would be a huge bummer because that would kill officer discretion and I’m fortunate enough to have been born with a Golden Horseshoe lodged somewhere up my rectum.

  14. One shot kill would have to hit the CPU or battery pack. CPU is very small, battery pack would be a better option.

  15. 1 gallon of olive oil on a hardwood or tile floor should plant it square on it’s backside, then you can dispose of it at your leisure.

  16. I’ve got eight Garand clips loaded with ’06 black tips just in case. 70 year old technology solves a “modern” problem.

  17. A number of different techniques for neutralizing robotic devices come to
    mind….EMP is one. While not off the shelf tech it’s not hard to gin together
    the necessary stuff to create an EMP weapon that can do a number on
    anything real close to it. The bolo idea is excellent. However eventually
    these machines will be strong enough that it would have to be high tensile
    rope to work. Once down a sharpened piece of rebar would do the job.

    In wet environments one can arrange to supply high voltage to a puddle on the
    ground….when robot steps in puddle throw switch and watch barbecue.

    Effective means of attacking these things simply requires a bit of imagination
    and ingenuity. It will be a LONG time before devices like this can both out
    think and out maneuver humans.

  18. Why would a robot need a gas mask? They’re not going to carve up some of the loyal grabbers & shove them in there, are they? Well, I guess thats the “plan” they always wanted, Randy


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