Killer Robot Use In Dallas Raises Ethical Questions - InformationWeek

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Killer Robot Use In Dallas Raises Ethical Questions

Dallas police used a robot to deliver and detonate a bomb to stop a suspected sniper who killed five officers and injured nine others. This deployment raises ethical questions.

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A bomb-toting robot's deployment to shut down a suspected snipper in the Dallas shootings last week marks what is believed to be one of the first uses of robots to terminate human life, rather than help it, in a non-warfare situation. This use raises ethical questions about such actions.

The suspect, Micah Xavier Johnson, allegedly killed five police officers and wounded nine others in downtown Dallas, during a peaceful rally to protest the recent Minnesota and Louisiana police shootings that killed two black men, according to media reports.

Dallas Police Chief David Brown, in a press conference aired on NBC, said after negotiations with the suspect broke down and he began firing on police officers, a decision was made to equip the robot the department uses to remove bombs to deliver them instead.

 "There was no other option but to use our bomb robot and place a device on its extension for it to detonate where the suspect was. Other options would have exposed our officers to great danger," Brown said.

(Image: Manakin/iStockphoto)

(Image: Manakin/iStockphoto)

The decision by the Dallas police to use a robot to kill a person is believed to be a first, outside of military warfare, according to a report in Fortune. The military has used MARCbots with land mines strapped on during the second Iraq War.

The robot used in the Dallas shootings was operated under manual control by a human, even though technology exists to have bots with artificial intelligence perform tasks autonomously, according to a report in USA Today.

"When it comes to life and death, you want people making those decisions," Martial Hebert, director of Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute, told USA Today.

When it comes to robot and drone use in the military, there are currently three major global debates underway relating to ethics, Ryan Calo, a University of Washington law professor who focuses on robotics policy and law, told The Verge.

[Read Google Developing Panic Button to Kill Rogue AI.]

One debate centers on whether society should allow a robot to make a decision to kill, or whether a human being should always be involved in the process, Calo said.

A second debate examines the process that is used to select who should be on a kill list and the deployment of drones to terminate those on the list.

Finally, if nations used armies of only robots, would the situation generate more violence because human lives would not be at risk, whether or not there were human operators?

The ethical debate for local law enforcement using weaponized robots and drones has not yet reached similar proportions.

"Maybe there should be policies in place for how robots are used, maybe we can be considered about the overuse of robots in policing, but this debate is not connected to the greater debate about the military use of robots, in my view," Calo told The Verge.

Dawn Kawamoto is an Associate Editor for Dark Reading, where she covers cybersecurity news and trends. She is an award-winning journalist who has written and edited technology, management, leadership, career, finance, and innovation stories for such publications as CNET's ... View Full Bio

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Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
8/10/2016 | 12:30:12 PM
Re: Bomb Carrying Robots
tjgkg, 

You have found the one word that summarizes it all: Chaos.

The advancement and easiness of travel and communications shouldn't have a negative side, though. As someone who travels often and hates feeling like a suspect, I can tell you that one of the problems I consistently see is that making things more difficult to the good people is not stopping the bad people to go commiting crimes. They simply get smarter and find new ways. As in cybersecurity happens, they always seem to be one step ahead. That's not good, isn't it? That's what needs to be fixed.

You say about borders, but there are other ways of moving around and certainly the ones who need to be stopped are not traveling and crossing borders like us. Is air traffic efficiently controlled? What about the seas and shores? 

It's impossible to control communications. It's true that many crimes have been commited for the instant moment of fame. Who is to blame here? If certain media wouldn't devote their efforts to give them so much publicity, if instead, they would report the facts, short, it might help. But they wouldn't create such a huge wave of shares and clicks. Business first, right? That's how it is. 

Yes, the Internet can be both a blessing and a curse in this case. It makes it easier to plan crimes, as you say, but it also makes life esier for us. As said before, new ways of stopping criminals need to be created without altering and bothering the life of everybody else. 

<"So I think the miscreants have always been here, they now just have an easier path to organize, plan and carry out their crimes. And with the lax security, the crime can more often be comitted than prevented."> Yes, I completely agree. New security alternatives should be created. The old ones don't work any more. 

-Susan

 
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
8/10/2016 | 10:56:24 AM
Re: Killer Robot? Really?
tjgkg, 

I got in trouble with the Biology teacher. I didn't care much. I was sure of what I had done, or not done. I told my mother. She said I did the right thing.

Never too old to change. :)

Yes, it was very distrurbing. You then realize that is not enough to stay away from trouble. That even if you are doing something as healthy as going for run you might be killed. There is not even need for a gun involved.

Freedom implies feeling safe when you leave your house in the afternoon to train for a marathon. I didn't know about the other killing in Boston. If the possibility of a serial killer is being contemplated it's not good. What about the CCTVs?    

-Susan
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
8/10/2016 | 9:31:26 AM
Re: Bomb Carrying Robots
Susan,

Yes that was a very sad story. I think violence is out of control because there has been a general loosening of restrictions. It is easier to travel. It is easier to communicate to a vast audience. Wars have been going on continuously for decades. There is a feeling that people are trapped economically. It is a number of issues that combine to create chaos.

Borders do need to be controlled. It is not a racial issue but an issue of security. I'm not sure how we can control the communication issue. A lot of crimes now happen because the criminal actually enjoys seeing themselves in the media. Many organized crimes like terrorism are coordinated through the internet via social media. People are recruited to join flash mobs or worse via social media.

So it seems the bad messages are getting the traction. People have a place to gather and gripe. And if necessary, they can take their actions to the streets.

There is also a lot of information on the internet that is easy to access. Maybe that is not so good. It makes it easy to plan crimes. It makes it easy for criminals to hack into systems. It makes it easy to see what is going on by viewing internet cams.

So I think the miscreants have always been here, they now just have an easier path to organize, plan and carry out their crimes. And with the lax security, the crime can more often be comitted than prevented.
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
8/10/2016 | 9:10:00 AM
Re: Killer Robot? Really?
Susan, Yes VR or AR would have been much preferred in Bio class for those assignments. Thankfully i did not get in trouble for refusing to kill a frog. Some things are just so senseless.

It was my mind that goes to WWII in regards to any kind of experimentation. It's me. I'm probably too old to change at this point.

I know a lot of folks who feel the same way as you do about that jogger who was recently killed in NYC. There was a similar murder in Boston a few days later. There is speculation it could be the same person who comitted the crimes. He better hope he is not caught alive.
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
8/9/2016 | 4:29:03 PM
Re: Bomb Carrying Robots
Terry, 

There are many countries in South America. Where is it that you say gun possession is legal? Is it legal in Mexico to have a gun in your house? 

The same with Europe, there are many countries in Europe. It's not fair to be general in this topic. For example, in the Nordic and Scandinavian countries you won't find the high rate of crime you can find in the US, the kind of crimes and vilonce we are discussing here. 

Well, neither guns nor trucks kill people. People kill people. I see your point. No, you can't ban everything because anything can be a weapon. 

I agree with you: Trucks have auseful porpuse. They are not made to kill people. Guns are. So, we can't really compare them, can we? 

-Susan
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
8/9/2016 | 4:08:17 PM
Re: Bomb Carrying Robots
tjgkg, 

Yes, everything is getting out of control, not only the problem with guns. Violence is out of control. I don't remember in what part of NY that girl was killed, but it doesn't matter much. What matters to me is that she went for a run in the afternoon --I think she was training for a marathon-- and somone raped her and killed her.

So it's not just terrorism and guns. There is something really wrong with some people's mind. How do you fix that? You really need to dig in society, find the cause of the problem, and fix it. Does that ever going to happen?

-Susan  

 
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
8/9/2016 | 3:42:46 PM
Re: Killer Robot? Really?
tjgkg, 

I refused to kill animals for Biology class. I wonder if someone ever learned anything from that. This is one good example where Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) can be really useful. 

Well, I didn't use the term "experiment" but "testing." And I was referring to new drug testing. It didn't occur to me any WWII revival. Although, if I think of the criminal who attacked, raped, and killed that girl in New York recently, the one who had gone for an afternoon run, I wouldn't mind using him for any kind of testing that would bring something good to others. 

-Susan
tjgkg
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50%
tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
8/9/2016 | 9:51:48 AM
Re: Killer Robot? Really?
Susan,

For me, the death penalty is something that has been around since the beginning of human civilization. It is sanctioned in the Bible and other holy books in addition to secular law. I do not believe in ritual executions, but "humane" ones. I do not believe it is a deterrence for hardened criminals either. But i do believe it is an appropriate penalty to pay for heinous crimes.

With regard to medical experiments, yes to me it is a Frankenstein nightmare. It reminds me of the horrible events from WWII as it brings out the worst in humans. Maybe it is too broad of a term "medical experiments".

I do not approve of medical experiments on innocent animals. I was against it as early as HS Biology when i refused to kill a frog for a class.
Susan Fourtané
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50%
Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
8/8/2016 | 5:34:31 PM
Re: Killer Robot? Really?
tjgkg, 

Perhaps you pictures a Frankenstein's kind of medical experiment? :) I am thinking more in new drug testing which could possibly cure cancer, or any other fatal illness and need to be tested for determining side effects, etc. It just occured to me that they could also be used for dermatological and beauty product testing as well. I would feel much better knowing a shampoo was tested on a rapist eyes rather than on an innocent rabbit. Really.

How is the death penalty right for you, but medical testing on rapists, murderers, and such criminals doesn't seem to be right? Could you please explain? I don't quite understand. Why would you have consideration toward them and wouldn't use them for testing drugs which could cure people, but the death penalty is Okay? 

-Susan  
tjgkg
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50%
tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
8/8/2016 | 5:16:44 PM
Re: Bomb Carrying Robots
Great points.  Crime in NY had really gone down with Giuliani and Bloomberg. Not only gun crime but also quality of life crimes too. NYC turned back into a great place to visit and be proud of. Now things are changing a bit with the current mayor who takes a more liberal view of things. Good law enforcement policies and good policing will take care of most of the crimes. Some crime, whether it is major or minor will never be eradicated no matter how many laws go on the books because criminals don't follow laws.
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