Terminator robots clashing with armed rebels over a city wasteland while enemy airships overhead chase down the resistance. This is the classic scene at the start from ‘Terminator 2: Judgment Day’ which people will say can only happen in the movies. Could it just happen in reality? According to Noel Sharkey, a professor of artificial intelligence and robotics at the University of Sheffield, the technology to create Terminator-style machines already exists and international discussion about its military applications is desperately needed! Possibly so, looking at today’s developing technology and the controlling forces behind them, it may not be too far-fetched.
Robotic technology is currently being used in Afghanistan and Pakistan like SWORDS which is actually a machine-gun mounted on a rover which can be remotely-controlled to shoot down opponents. Another similar robot called MAARS (Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System) can carry anything from pepper spray and laser dazzlers to a 40-mm grenade launcher or a M240B medium machine gun. Then there are Recon Scout robots which are used for counter-terrorism surveillance and its developer, Recon Robotics, was recently awarded a $1.3 million contract from the U.S. Army.
Other robots include the Big Dog, which is developed by Boston Dynamics and funded by DARPA, appears more impressive and threatening at the same time, since it actually can traverse rough terrain and can go up and down slopes. It can hike a muddy trail, walk in snow and water, while carrying a 340 lb load! A mounted machine-gun perhaps?
Also being developed by Boston Dynamics is Petman which is a humanoid robot that will have the ability to stand and walk on his own two feet. According to the site, “PETMAN will balance itself and move freely; walking, crawling and doing a variety of suit-stressing calisthenics during exposure to chemical warfare agents. PETMAN will also simulate human physiology within the protective suit by controlling temperature, humidity and sweating when necessary, all to provide realistic test conditions.” A human-looking entity with a robotic endoskeleton for military applications is actually in the making!
On the waterfront, robotic penguins developed by Festo look and act strangely realistic. Robot fish developed by British scientists are supposedly to be used to detect pollution and if the first trials are successful, they’ll eventually be used in rivers, lakes and seas across the world! Aside from detecting pollution, could they also be used for military surveillance?
Perhaps the most devastating of today’s remote-controlled technology is the dreaded ‘air drone’. These jets carry missiles and are remote-controlled from a Nevada air base to supposedly attack and eliminate militants in Pakistan. Unfortunately, they are actually wiping out more civilians than actual militants! According to David Kilcullen, a counterinsurgency adviser, he says since 2006 when the air strikes began, the U.S. has killed 14 mid-level Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders. In the same time frame, the strikes have killed 700 Pakistani civilians! This obviously has caused an outcry and a rising anger against the U.S. and western involvement in Pakistan.
Could these robotic and remote-controlled technologies be used at home against its citizens? The site of a recently concluded military National Level Exercise 2009 (NLE 09) in the U.S. has its focus on issues related to preventing terrorist events domestically and protecting U.S. critical infrastructure. But who’s to say that they won’t use advanced robotics against ‘domestic terrorists’. The Census Department recently deployed agents to get the GPS location of every household in the U.S. This has raised suspicions that GPS locations could actually be used to facilitate missile drone attacks against houses of suspected ‘domestic terrorists’. After all, this GPS system is what they used in the Pakistan drone attacks.
There are other technologies that have been developed like the XM25 remote-controlled bullets rifle wherein if the bullet that is fired is in range of the enemy, it will explode and kill thus rendering the use of cover pointless! There’s also a controversial DARPA-sponsored robot called the Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot (EATR) which fuels itself by consuming biomass like leaves, twigs and possibly decomposing bodies! All the mentioned technologies are the ones that are being ‘allowed’ to be circulated in the media but who knows what classified technologies are being developed underground in secret.
It is said that what is developed in secret is usually 10 to 30 years ahead of its time and this is where whistleblowers come in to try and expose these secret projects. People like Engr. Phil Schneider who worked in the military underground bases had come forward but died later under mysterious circumstances.
Another aspect of the ‘Terminator’ scenario is the use of RFID chips and sensor-based technologies. There is a growing concern wherein a person’s identification might just be a microchip that is placed under the skin. This is worrisome since it concerns privacy issues but it’s surprisingly being tested at a Barcelona nightclub wherein the cover charge is an RFID implant! How far could micro-chipping actually go?
An up and coming sensor-based technology is Microsoft’s game console, Project Natal which contains voice and facial recognition software. At first glance, it seems really cool and exciting but when you look into what it entails, you are actually giving away your facial and body biometrics to a database on the web which could possibly be accessed without you knowing! It actually scans your face and body to indicate who you are so that you can interface with its available games on the tv screen. You can also watch movies and do a couple of other things without the use of a remote-control device. But how convenient it is to be possibly tracked, traced, and databased right in your very home without your knowledge!
But it doesn’t stop there. Bill Gates who is a CFR member plans to bring gesture recognition to Windows too which may mean that you have to give away your biometric data in the future in order to access your computer! And almost everyone uses Windows! Yet another way to get your facial data so that you can be tracked anywhere at anytime.
Today, robots, drones, and missiles are being controlled by humans but there could come a time when humans are taken out of the loop. This is where software and hardware come in which are being developed in the first stages by Ronald Arkin, a computer science professor who believes military robots can be programmed with artificial intelligence to know when and what to fire. He actually believes that not only can robots be programmed to behave more ethically on the battlefield, they may actually be able to respond better than human soldiers!
"Ultimately these systems could have more information to make wiser decisions than a human could make," says Arkin. Information like a house’s GPS location or a person’s RFID data? Or perhaps a person’s facial and body biometrics and voice patterns so that those Big Dog robots or air drones would know where you are and who to exterminate! Of course these people would be tagged as so-called ‘domestic terrorists’ and ‘enemies of the state’. But who decides who’s a ‘terrorist’ or not?
In the Terminator movies, Skynet was a computer system which had become self-aware and eventually overthrew its creators through assimilated artificial intelligence with sensor-based and robotic technology. Obviously, predictive programming has been used in movies such as these to acclimatize the public to what seems could happen in a Terminator-esque future based on what is now unfolding militarily and technologically. And if someone points out that a similar ‘Skynet’ scenario is actually happening, the other will say, “That’s insane, that only happens in the movies!” This therefore makes ‘predictive programming’ in movies a very cunning psy-op.
But maybe it doesn’t sound too insane since according to Peter Singer, who’s a leading defense analyst at the Rockefeller-funded think-tank, Brookings Institution, “We don't have to be in the year 2018 with Skynet and the terminators all around us, for those huge policy and military dilemmas to take form… They're already here."
In the movies, the Skynet system revolted against the people on its own. However, the ‘Skynet’ that is happening today is actually being controlled by a group of people who don’t have our best interests at heart. This is where the difference lies. Going back to the question ‘who decides who’s a terrorist or not’? It’s actually this elite group of people. Look into David Rockefeller for starters and you’ll soon get a good idea as to the power, wealth, and influence this character has.
What can people do to stop this situation which is evidently making some alarming advancements in technology? Avoiding RFID chips and other sensor-based technologies in the meantime is a start. But as things progress, maybe it’s best to be aware of what is happening militarily and technologically so perhaps when things come to a head in the future, people will band together and know how to deal with the situation and fight back. Does the first Terminator 2 scene come to mind? Talk about living out a sci-fi movie
Expert Warns Of 'Terminator' Robot Threat (Noel Sharkey)
EOD/LIC Technologies: Weaponized Bot Rolls into Battle (SWORDS)
New 'Terminator' Robots Go in Harm's Way MAARS (Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System)
Recon Scout Robot
BigDog - The Most Advanced Rough-Terrain Robot on Earth
Festo shows off robot penguins and other visions of the future
UK team builds robot fish to detect pollution
Army Terminators Walk Like Men (PETMAN)
US drone attacks kill 13 in Pakistan
US Missile Strikes in Pakistan Kill At Least 45
Drones Hardly Ever Kill Bad Guys
National Level Exercise 2009 (NLE 09)
Census GPS: A Missile at Your Door
US Army develops XM25 remote-controlled bullets rifle
Military Robot Could Eat Dead Bodies - Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot (EATR)
Will Your ID Soon Be a Microchip Under Your Skin?
The cover charge at this club? An RFID implant
Project Natal, Milo, and the Xbox 360. Is this the Future?
Gates: Natal to bring gesture recognition to Windows too
Robot warriors will get a guide to ethics (Ronald Arkin – Artificial Intelligence)
Reality Aware Systems – The “SKYNET” Concept
Real Soldiers Love Their Robot Brethren (Peter Singer on Terminator comparison)