May 13, 2002
Preparing for the Future

The lines are getting blurry, but we don't quite have autonomous robots that are meant to injure or kill people as part of their job*. The machines pictured here are teleoperated, but it's easy to picture that in 20 years we'll see images just like these except that humans will no longer be part of the control loop.

So get ready for the future.

Israeli police robot

An Israeli police robot checks the body of a dead Palestinian man for explosives.

Israeli police robot

Another robot checks the same man.

Israeli police robot

An Israeli robot drags a critically injured Palestinian suicide bomber whose bomb exploded prematurely.

Predator UAV with Hellfire missile

An unmanned Predator aerial vehicle, armed with laser-guided Hellfire missiles. Armed Predators are flown by the CIA (and have been used heavily in Afghanistan), which first deployed armed UAVs in Vietnam.

* Though accidents happen, of course. 1981 had the first documented case of a person being killed by a robot; a repairman was pushed into a grinder in a japanese factory. The grisliest case I read about was one where an engineer was pinned by a robot when a production line unexpectedly started up, and molten aluminum was poured on him.

Posted by jjwiseman at May 13, 2002 02:38 PM

"An Israeli robot drags a critically injured Palestinian suicide bomber whose bomb exploded prematurely."

I realize he may be a suicide bomber, but is it wise to drag critically injured people?

Posted by: Dan Moniz on May 13, 2002 08:47 PM

The police thought he was dead until, after the robot started dragging him, he began to kick at it.

Not that I think the police would have handled it much differently if they'd known he was alive. And I think I have to agree; If there's any chance of more explosives waiting to go off, I think sending in the robot is probably the right thing to do.

Posted by: jjwiseman on May 13, 2002 08:52 PM

Who cares if he is alive or dead? He went with the intention to die anyway, and take as many innocent people as he could with him. Drag him to death if he's still alive so he can die in the name of Jihad....

Posted by: Ralphmouth on November 5, 2002 12:11 PM

Dan Moniz, it seems to me that the most likely alternative to having the robot investigate him might be to cordon off the area, and wait to see if he explodes some more. My impression is that in the event of an explosives misfire, there's a possibility of further explosions during the next few minutes or so. If he's critically injured, he might very well die during the wait.

I don't know why he would be "dragged"; the picture looks to me like the robot might be rolling him over, so the authorities can see what might be hidden under him. For that matter, one of the steps in evaluating an accident victim is to roll him/her (after suitable precautions to avoid spinal injury) to see if there are any more urgent injuries beneath the victim. If you've got an injured suspected bomber, two important things to determine are, how dangerous is he, and what are his injuries. Using a robot to roll him over might help evaluate both questions with minimal danger to the other people involved.

Posted by: Jeremy Leader on November 11, 2002 01:58 PM

it won't be long now till our corporate overlords deem that human bodies are technically hazardous waste, and all dead bodies are handled by large, sterile robots.
big up the overlord oppressorman.

Posted by: meatsock on May 16, 2003 12:40 AM

well i look i am not happy israel terror robots and killing palestine i know israel link USA what is future worse and doom! i don't like that! look stupid

Posted by: Kaylees on May 24, 2005 06:29 AM
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