The biggest tragedy of any war is the loss of lives. Excluding civilian casualties, the waring parties charge at one another until one side suffers enough death to cause them to retreat. Then it starts over again the next day, and the day after that, until one of the warring parties waves a tattered white flag.
At this point, each team’s respective government is left to count the cost of either their military victory or their humiliating defeat. Either way, there’s always an enormously steep price to pay. The whole process sounds fairly stupid when put in those terms. Don’t you agree? Israel does…
Though it can’t yet replace an entire army, a defense contractor in Israel has developed a sock em bop em fighting robot. It’s a four-wheel-drive machine that stands upright, can be remotely controlled or make its own decisions, and is armed to the hilt with Rambo-style firepower. In actuality, the thing resembles an oversized toy transformer that can morph from a Ford Escort into a mighty fighting machine hellbent on destroying its enemy.
It’s been claimed that the robot is perfect for patroling live battle zones. It can get over rough terrain with ease, detect infiltrators, and blast them full of holes. It does no good to return fire. Ruben the Robot is bulletproof. Between drone technology and this new over-the-ground entry, war as we have always known it may soon be a thing of the past. Techies and computer gurus are gonna fight the next one.
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Proponents of using robots say it’s a great way to keep the troops safe. Naysayers are saying it would be a dangerous move since robots cannot think for themselves. Life/death situations often require intense thought so the idea of a robot automatically blasting away via preprogrammed commands isn’t sitting too well with them.
The robot’s heart is a computer tablet that controls its cameras, sensors, and of course both of its arms which were custom designed out of machine guns. Because of its strength, the robot can carry injured soldiers off the battlefield while at the same time packing fresh supplies and ammo in. And if it happens detects a nearby enemy target? Adios muchacho’s.
Using robots is nothing new to Israel though they’ve never been presented with anything of this scale. In 2007 when Hamas claimed victory in Gaza, a smaller scale type of robot was used to patrol the Israeli/Gaza Strip border. Called the Jaguar, they’re still being used today, but their capacity is limited.
Jaguar is mounted with only one machine gun and was designed to sit in the same spot as its gun rotates and picks off intruders detected by a series of sensors. When it spots one, bang, they’re dead. Weaponized drones and robots have allowed Israel to maintain the upper hand with Hamas.
When on surveillance missions the new robot stores information on its tablet. Every time it goes out the computer compares the new information against the old until the puzzle pieces fall into place and accuracy prevails. One of the robot’s operational experts, Yonni Gedj, said, “With every mission, the device collects more data which it then learns from for future missions.” How can anything top that?
“Machines cannot understand the value of human life, which in essence undermines human dignity and violates human rights laws,” said Bonnie Docherty, a lecturer at Harvard Law School and a senior researcher from the arms division of Human Rights Watch. It’s her contention that fully robot-controlled weapons should be universally outlawed.
Docherty posed the question of how a computer can possibly distinguish one side from the other, or worse, civilians from combatants. The robots have the ability to phone in what they detect in real-time, but not to distinguish what it is they can’t actually get a visual on. It might be some merry maidens dancin’ ’round a maypole who are about to have their smiles blown off by a drone that can’t tell the difference either.
Docherty makes a convincing point but ultimately, she doesn’t have a dog in this fight. It’s up to Israel to decide if they want to lead the trend of turning warzones into real live-action video games. Ones where the actual characters determine their own moves while citizens in their armchairs woo-hoo for their side. On one hand, it would be entertaining to watch. But on the other hand, lots and lots of innocent civilians probably wouldn’t be around to witness how it all ends.
Are you for or against?