Are the events in The Terminator movies no longer complete science-fiction? Are autonomous weapon systems ethical and how likely is the government set to deploy them? Robotics and artificial intelligence expert and CEO of the Patriarch Organization, Eric Schiffer, joined Richard Syrett in the first half of the show to discuss the future of warfare using advanced artificially intelligent robots, and if a situation as presented in The Terminator franchise may soon be upon us.
Advancements in drone technology, self-driving vehicles, and algorithms which allow computers to beat humans at strategy games Chess and Go, are the leading the way to fully autonomous weapons, Schiffer explained. Once we add weapon systems to something with the ability to think and move on its own, it will be able to execute lethal operations without human interference, he added. "The concern is what would happen if you have an ever-increasing level of artificial intelligence that has a system that allows itself to continue to expand its knowledge... and then can begin to have, in time, a consciousness," Schiffer said.
Schiffer called the steady march toward a fully robotic battlefield a huge challenge for humanity, and revealed how fully autonomous swarms of tiny robots could work together to achieve an objective much like a pack of wolves. He warned about the implications of artificially intelligent robots not sharing humankind's code of morality, and the possibility of losing control this technology. Schiffer pointed out that there are no restrictions in place to prevent any nation or organization from developing lethal fully autonomous devices. Robots will supersede human fighters, eventually look like them, and at some point we will lose control, he predicted. Such weapons will likely be online by mid century as precursor systems, like Israel's fully autonomous unmanned combat aerial vehicle (IAI Harpy), already exist, Schiffer observed.
Open Lines followed in the latter half of the program. Shannon in Oklahoma City, told Richard she is an 'electrical person' who consistently shocks people she touches, causes microwaves and computers to malfunction, and can pop light bulb filaments. Shannon believes her strange condition may be related to Fibromyalgia.
Several callers weighed in on artificial intelligence and robotic warfare. Leslie in Birmingham, Alabama, expressed her concern about those in power pitting human assets against machines and keeping their true intent hidden. She likened it to the HAL 9000 computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey, which sought to continue its general mission by leaving the crew to die in space. Denton from Sedro-Woolley, Washington, praised technological advances which led to robot vacuums, but suggested artificially intelligent self-driving systems in passenger cars might be too much and result in needless deaths.