Jason Ditz, July 15, 2009
Will Future US Military Vehicles, Robots Feast on the Flesh of the Slain?
Postscript (July 17, 2009): Foraging Killbots Will Be Strictly Vegetarian, Company Assures (See at end of Post)
The real downside to the Pentagon’s planned army of merciless killbots, besides the inevitable robot rebellion (which the Pentagon is spending billions trying to head off) is all that fuel. Robots need really big batteries, or internal combustion engines, or something. No matter how they’re powered though, it’s not free. Until now.
A Pentagon contractor in Maryland is now working on a robot that can forage for its own food. It could use any biomass in the area. And lets face it, in any really big war there’s plenty of biomass just lying around all shot up or bombed to death and not doing anything for the war effort. So the robots, and potentially vehicles based on the same design, will be feeding off the flesh of slain humans to continue on their mission to slay humans and feed off their flesh.
Besides the obvious ethical issues of creating man-eating, killer robots (which presumably don’t concern the Pentagon any more than the non-man-eating but still killer robots did), the plan will also raise serious concerns about the reliability of body counts. It is difficult enough to get an accurate death toll out of the military when villages present the bodies to local officials. Imagine the skepticism if the villagers have to explain that Pentagon battle droids consumed all the slain villagers and sped off for more mayhem.
Following a flurry of reports that a Pentagon contractor’s foraging robotic platform would be feasting on the corpses of slain soldiers, the company in question Cyclone Power Technologies Inc. has issued a press release hoping to clear up the matter.
“We completely understand the public’s concern about futuristic robots feeding on the human population,” Cyclone’s CEO said in what must be the most bizarre comment in a press release ever, assuring that the platform was an attempt to “create usable, green power from plentiful, renewable plant matter.” The killer robots will, according to the press release, be strict vegetarians.
It does not appear clear from the company’s previous documents regarding to product why the killbots should be unable to consume flesh, let alone human flesh, and indeed the limitation may be purely for the sake of public relations. It has a legal aspect too, as the Geneva Conventions ban the desecration of the dead during time of war. Presumably consumption by a kill-mad battle droid would count as “desecration.”
Given that recent US wars have been fought in barren deserts and urban cityspaces, it seems difficult to imagine that the robots will find plentiful plant matter to consume
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