For all the joking we do about Skynet-scenarios and killer robots, there's some truth to the worrisome creations. To prevent Terminators from becoming a real threat, some 50 robotics experts are boycotting the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and… Engadget RSS Feed
During Vladimir Putin’s state of the nation address this week, the Russian president revealed a nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed missile that can apparently deliver a warhead to anywhere on Earth.
“I want to tell all those who have fueled the arms race over the last 15 years, sought to win unilateral advantages over Russia, introduced unlawful sanctions aimed to contain our country’s development… you have failed to contain Russia,” said Putin, according to a report by NBC News.
Experts are, needless to say, taken aback by this development.
“I’m still kind of in shock,” said Edward Geist, a researcher specializing in Russia at the Rand Corp, speaking to NPR. “My guess is they’re not bluffing, that they’ve flight-tested this thing. But that’s incredible.”
But what makes this weapon just so surprising? Here are four factors that, if they’re true, would leave experts astounded.
It Was Tested in Secret
Putin stated that Russia already tested its new weapon, performing a missile launch as well as ground tests. An accompanying video seemed to show a cruise missile being propelled into the sky, though Newsweek noted that the missile depicted in the video might be a decade old.
U.S. intelligence agencies have not made it known whether they knew about those tests before Putin’s speech, or if the tests themselves are real.
In his interview with NPR, Geist said that the missile is likely powered by what’s known as a “fast reactor.” It’s riskier than most other types of nuclear reactors. If the missile were to crash, or the reactor failed, it would cause a major nuclear incident.
It Can Dodge Missile Defenses
An animation accompanying Putin’s remarks also showed how such a weapon could dodge terrain and missile defenses while flying towards its intended target.
U.S. defense strategies typically assume that nuclear missiles will fly high above the Earth, making it possible to shoot them down before they reach their target. Putin promises that Russia’s new missiles will stay close to the ground and travel too quickly for ground defenses to react. If he’s right, the U.S. military might have to tweak its current defense strategy, and fast.
President Trump’s recent budget suggested increasing missile defense spending by 25 percent, or an additional $ 1.91 billion, according to report from Bloomberg. Russia is likely none too thrilled with that development, but Putin seems confident his country’s new weapon could stymie U.S. defenses, regardless of what the military adds with its expanded budget.
Is Russia bluffing? Some experts suspect they aren’t. “They’re willing to go full Strangelove on us,” Geist told NPR. But we have yet to see proof other than what Putin said during his address. Regardless, the Russian president’s message was loud and clear: Russia is a technologically advanced nation, and one to be reckoned with.
Lieutenant General Ludwig Leinhos, head of Germany’s Cyber and Information Space Command, told panel members at the Munich Security Conference yesterday that Germany would abstain from using autonomous weapons. According to the “Campaign To Stop Killer Robots” Germany joins 22 other countries in pledging to keep AI-powered weapons off the battlefield. That leaves just 170 countries who’re either undecided or not interested in banning autonomous weaponry. Reuters reports General Leihnhos told the panel Germany needed to prepare to defend itself against such weapons, but had no plans to obtain them: We have a very clear position. We have no intention…
After months of rumors, doctors have published the first detailed report describing the mysterious illness that struck US diplomats stationed in Cuba. While the source of the illness is still a mystery, the doctors say they’re “pretty certain” it wasn’t a sonic weapon.
Doctors examined 21 people associated with the US embassy in Cuba, and found that their symptoms resembled those caused by brain injuries — including headaches, sleep disturbances, and mood changes. But surprisingly, none of the diplomats showed any obvious signs of head trauma, according to a paper published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
“This is really concussion without concussion,” says study co-author Douglas Smith, director of the…
Kick the Buddy is an addictive beat-em up (blow-em up?) that’s more commonly tagged as a stress reliever rather than a formal game. You’re given a slew weapons which you can then use to take out your frustrations on the titular buddy, a stuffed doll.
The only real goal is to get as much money as possible to unlock new weapons to give you even more ways to kill the buddy. Here are a few tips to help you unlock every weapon in the game.
At the end of October, Bungie announced that the first DLC for Destiny 2, Curse of Osiris, would be available starting December 5th. Now, the company has discussed details of how exactly the release will work. Players can start preloading the expansi… Engadget RSS Feed
In two letters addressed to the heads of state in Australia and Canada, hundreds of experts in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) have urged for the ban of “killer robots,” artificially intelligent weapons with the ability to decide whether a person lives or dies. They join a growing crowd of scientists who have stressed the need for an autonomous weapons ban.
The Australian open letter, addressed to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, carried 122 researcher signatures, while the Canadian letter addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau carried was signed by 216.
“Delegating life-or-death decisions to machines crosses a fundamental moral line – no matter which side builds or uses them,” said Toby Walsh, Scientia Professor of AI at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Sydney, to The Independent. “Playing Russian roulette with the lives of others can never be justified merely on the basis of efficacy. This is not only a fundamental issue of human rights. The decision whether to ban or engage autonomous weapons goes to the core of our humanity.”
The letters call for governmental support, at the upcoming United Nations Conference on the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), of an international ban on such weaponry from being developed and deployed.
Walsh explained in a press release, “These will be weapons of mass destruction. One programmer will be able to control a whole army. Every other weapon of mass destruction has been banned: chemical weapons, biological weapons, even nuclear weapons. We must add autonomous weapons to the list of weapons that are morally unacceptable to use.”
Chorus of Experts
Many experts agree on the need to ban these weapons from entering the sphere of war. In August, 116 experts, including SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk, sent an open letter to the United Nations that called for strong AI regulation, especially in the area of AI weaponry.
The letter stated: “Once developed, they will permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend. These can be weapons of terror, weapons that despots and terrorists use against innocent populations, and weapons hacked to behave in undesirable ways.”
Still, not everyone is so sure that an autonomous weapons ban is practical or even possible. According to Greg Allen, coauthor of a report commissioned by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to explore the implications of AI on war, “You are unlikely to achieve a full ban of autonomous weapons,” he told Wired. “The temptation for using them is going to be very intense.”
Others still don’t believe such a ban would even be effective. A study from SUNY Buffalo concluded that killer robots are not inherently a problem; instead, the problem lies in the way society is enabling and researching them: “…instead of demonizing Killer Robots as such, we need to understand the tools, processes and operating procedures that create, support and validate these objects.”
Both sides seem to agree that, at the very least, we must be watchful in this early development stage. While these robots have the potential of preserving the lives of any military with the technological sophistication to launch them, the potential for a new level of weapon-based brinkmanship can further agitate an already volatile state of global conflict.