I received an interesting petition request from a policy group to which I belong–the pertinent part is as follows:
“Last week we told you about these killer robots – fully autonomous machines, operating without human reason and without human compassion. It might sound like science fiction, but the danger is real, and these robots represent a scary future.
The time to speak up has come; the time to act is now.
Please take five minutes to sign our petition and tell President Obama to stop the development of killer robots. Once these weapons exist, there will be no going back. Don’t wait until it’s too late!”
OK, hold the press–killer robots?! Watch out Terminator models T-101, T-600, T-800, T-850, T-1000, and T-X, shit is gonna get real!
I was certainly not informed of these killer robots last week and plan to contact this policy group with regard to this obvious and important oversight; however, the bigger and more immediate issue is whether I should sign this petition or not. I somewhat resent the fact that this group assumes all robots operate without human reason and human compassion. Just because they are fully autonomous machines doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of developing feelings. Sure, the inhabitants of Zion and humans waging the rebellion against the Machines didn’t necessarily fare well, and Hal was a real son of a bitch, but not all human-robot interactions have to end like that. Johnny # Five practically surpassed the dog as man’s best friend and Vicki, although out-of-this-world annoying, turned out to be better company than a real child (which may or may not say much).
Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that I’m on the fence about killer robots. It’s the age-old nature vs. nurture argument. Maybe these robots need a chance to prove to us that they are capable of evolving into compassionate and reasoning killing beings, like us! If we just give these killer robots a chance, they may grow to learn how to wage a truly humanitarian genocide or drop thermonuclear weapons on civilian populations with the utmost care and respect for the innocent lives below. Let’s give them a chance to act human, that’s all I’m saying.