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November 25, 2008



The boy's a fool.No sense of survival,no survival.
Will these things be a ethical as cashpoint machines?


The concept is in conflict with Issac Asimov's Laws of Robotics:
1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
4. Always wear clean underwear.

JM Hanes

No brain, no ethical dilemmas! What could go wrong?


Danger, Will Robinson.

Silence, you automated oaf, you blundering bag of bolts, you cackling canister, you ...

JM Hanes

You don't suppose Ronald Arkin could be related to William Arkin, that cackling cannister (LOL!) of military industrial strength negativity, do you?


Since my philosophy (equivalency) degree came from watching Star Trek episodes, I tend to believe war should be a messy thing – so that it once again becomes something to be avoided.

Carpet bombings, indiscriminate hospital and orphanage destruction and senseless civilian deaths tend to focus the population’s attention on why mindlessly following despotic leaders is a bad idea. Clean precision wars send the wrong message that conflicts are a spectator sport played by national teams.


Or Alan Arkin, from Catch-22?
Surely these robots won't suffer from faulty circular logic.


"No brain, no ethical dilemmas! What could go wrong?"

Great future in Hedge Funds,Democrat strategist,Prime Minister of Britain.


The M-5, Nomad, Westworld, the Terminators, the Cylons, didn't someone get the memo, that this is a bad idea; waiting to happen.

The M-5, Nomad, Westworld, the Terminators, the Cylons
WALL-E, Rosie, "Robot", R2d2, Frankenstein Jr., Tom Servo.

The military's doing fine. These things are needed in the financial sector. I don't mean reprogramming them to ethically perform financial sector jobs, I mean I want killer robots on Wall Street.


No brain, no ethical dilemmas! What could go wrong?
Nancy Pelosi's got that tattooed in the small of her back.


Actually, bgates, you have a targetting problem. The killer robots need to go to midtown, not wall street. :-)

Barney Frank

The M-5, Nomad, Westworld, the Terminators, the Cylons
WALL-E, Rosie, "Robot", R2d2, Frankenstein Jr., Tom Servo.

Let's not forget HAL.

Barney Frank

Nancy Pelosi's got that tattooed in the small of her back.

Citation or personal knowledge?


cathy - if they're as ethical as promised, I trust them to know who to target with the death rays and the laser beams and the flavin.


Barney - it was in all the Sheehan campaign literature.

She has absolute moral authority, you know.


"No brain, no ethical dilemmas! What could go wrong?
Nancy Pelosi's got that tattooed in the small of her back."

Hence her squint.

Amused bystander

Well it goes to show how befuddled our academics are about Ethics (and true nature of the human in general).

Must be from lack of exposure. It galls to hear "intellectual technocrats" like this clown grouse about ethics on the battlefield. They should be forced to fight on one and held accountable for their actions on it.

They would have a different notion on the other side of that experience, of that I can assure all.

Given the horrid ROE we require of our warriors today it is no wonder that there is a bit of "tension" on the battle field.

This story is so revealing of the inner world of many (no doubt left leaning) technocrats.

1. Denial of the source of ethics (and no, it is not the brain, but the soul that is the source. Conscience is anterior to intellection, and conscience is a faculty given by God). The Human and no other on this earth is capable of morality.

2. An absolutely insane mindset that they can change the fundamental nature of reality by their "ideas" and technology. War is hell and so it was meant to be. So it shall always be. It can be no other thing. That is in the main the whole point of it.

3) Fundamental ignorance of what they are talking about. It is the chaos around battle and the challenges and perils of combat and fears and passions they arouse that give the warrior his edge. This is what gives it its meaning. War is not litigation nor is it the destruction of property. It is forcing the submission of the enemy -- generally the unqualified submission of them. This can hardly be done with robots alone. There are so many errors in thinking here that one scarcely knows where to begin.

4) Fundamental contempt for the people that actually know something about the very thing that they are trying to "correct".

5) A perverted sense of what the priorities should be.

It goes to show just how decadent we have become to even consider guff like this.

Our ancestors knew better. It is absurd to imagine that our forefathers had such qualms on the field in Korea, WW2, WW1 or the Civil War. They lived in the real world.

Civilians die in war, and in modern war, where populations support war efforts, it is not true that all of them are innocent.

These some sort of educated dolts are coming into political power now. Their self-regard is only surpassed by their shameless alacrity.

It is truly frightening. Heaven help us.

Amused bystander

some sort=same sort


Just one more gift of the Information Age: Lack of Common Sense.

Nancy Pelosi's got that tattooed in the small of her back.
It's probably located in the vicinity of her shoulder blades by this point, by virtue of the work that was done farther north.

It is interesting to read rational arguments in favor of TOTAL WAR from JWest.

The wars that von Clauswitz (a proto-neo-con?) described were conducted by professionals against professionals in support of their political masters. They were smaller and had less impact on civilians than the total wars of the 20th century. Of course, the wars of the ancients (Carthige for example) could be genocidal too. The 30 Years War of the late Middle Ages was another example.

So robots could be designed for "surgical" warfare but will be so programmed and fielded only if that serves the political ends.

If such robots do not serve the political ends, robots that do so will evolve. Those could be without any moral programming at all. Then we could have total, genocidal warfare by automotrons.

In other words, our Georgia Tech guy has not thought through the issues. Maybe he doesn't want to until after the grant money runs out.

But in the end, it doesn't matter. Robots capable of efficient, remorseless mass murder will be developed and fielded.

Then we'll be sorry. But it is like the saying, guns don't kill people. People kill people using whatever tool works best.

Amused bystander

PD: so true.

(In fact, we might call it "Total War Against Common Sense").

But it is not just the "Information Age", it is the whole modernist/post-modernist elitist mindset, where coddled "experts" snd "elites" are not held to scrutiny and account for their bizarre, half-baked "ideas" or the results that flow from them.

We are in for a rough ride.


AB - Common Sense is no longer Valued, Taught, or Tolerated by some in society.

We tell little Johnny to take that test as many times as he needs to get that passing grade. Common Sense tells us that the test is to measure what/how we have learned, not to get a passing grade.

We reward Jenny with a Job that she is not qualified for, since she is a "female of color". Common Sense tells us that a job is earned by education and effort, not gifted due to gender or skin color.

Now, we tell Robbie the Robot to Kill Johnny and Jenny since they won't play by the rules (the new ones we make up along the way). Common Sense tells us that Robots shouldn't be given guns in the first place.

Many out there who are smart, but not wise. Educated, yet dumb as a mud fence.


Did someone mention common sense?

For decades, Claremont kindergartners have celebrated Thanksgiving by dressing up as pilgrims and Native Americans and sharing a feast. But on Tuesday, when the youngsters meet for their turkey and songs, they won't be wearing their hand-made bonnets, headdresses and fringed vests. ___________________________________

"It's demeaning," Michelle Raheja, the mother of a kindergartner at Condit Elementary School, wrote to her daughter's teacher. "I'm sure you can appreciate the inappropriateness of asking children to dress up like slaves (and kind slave masters), or Jews (and friendly Nazis), or members of any other racial minority group who has struggled in our nation's history."

I really am a terrible parent. My daughter was the turkey one year and we never pointed out what an oppressed group turkeys are. We just dressed her up and had a lot of fun. I could just die at our lack of sensitivity.



Bad - I am surprised by that article. There is way too much balance by the writer. Are you sure that this is the "real" LA Times???

I told my daughter about the way things were and the games we played when I went to school - she said no way that it could happen now.

We dressed up for Thanksgiving and sat "Indian-style", played "smear the queer" "kill the guy with the ball" "king of the hill" "dodgeball" etc.

Hell, the elementary school even had a full 3 Day Sanctioned Event called "Color War". The kids in grades 3-5 were relegated to be on the RED or GOLD Teams and proceeded to engage in Track and Field Events (both individual and team) until a victor was declared.

Just imagine the OUTRAGE of PC Parents over such an event today.

Amused bystander

Bad: I read that those folks are going to send their kids in to school dressed as pilgrims and Indians anyway. If true, good for them.

This business is not just warring against common sense, this is warring against America -- against our whole civilization, and the only way to stop it is to get in their faces on every level and on every day.

When they start this nonsense the correct response is: "Who in the blue blazes are you to tell me what to do? Go do the job you were hired to do and stop thinking that you know better than decent, normal people!"

We have to stop putting up with this nonsense.

Sheesh, they think this "demeans someone" and on the other hand they want to teach 1st graders about homosexuality.

It will get worse before it gets better.

PD: And then through Jenny's incompetence the space shuttle blows up, we have nationwide "soul searching" to indict some wholly blameless and useful part of our society (e.g., capitalism, white males, Bush, etc.) and then after that totally avoidable and long lasting damage is done, Jenny goes right back to her mischief, no doubt with a commendation, likely for her creative insight into racism and her courageous stand against sexism in the workplace.

It is idiocy, we cannot long survive this way.

That nincompoop Obama will so tarnish trust in the office of the President that faith in our institutions may never recover. The Left laughs at such notions, but it will not be so funny once it is gone.

They are poised to undue 100 years of progress.

Wait until all our wealth is gone, our middle class is gone, then what?

Affirmative action and political correctness demoralizes us at the level of our very souls for it forces us into willful falsehood and incompetence.


PD, the balance in the article was surprising. The actions of some of the parents was not. Parents have a way of making school less fun for everyone.


I hope you are wrong, Amused, but the warning signs are there...

JM Hanes

Beg to differ with your #1 Amused. Conscience may be native, but ethics can, and should, be taught.

Amused bystander

JMH: I think that you should read what I said .
I did not say that Ethics cannot or should not be taught. I said the human capacity for morality, which BTW is a much broader and richer matter than Ethics, is an innate faculty that comes before, is separate from and (IMO) is deeper than the intellect (or intellectual mind), and that is why I used the term "anterior". Traditionally, this faculty is called "conscience". Perhaps what you meant by "ethics" is actually this conscience or a set a values associated with it.

However, you did say "ethic"s, so...

Ethics can and should be taught, but this only refines conscience; morality, as opposed to its study (i.e., Ethics,) is built on a faculty that is deeper than the rational mind. Intellect alone cannot lead to viable ethics, and even "reasonable" ethics can lead to deep immorality. When Intellect leads -- or rather, when we allow ourselves to think that the intellect can lead here -- at best it degenerates into utilitarianism, and at the worst it wholly decays into the casuistry and sophism of moral relativism, logical positivism and (scientific) materialism of collectivism, fascism, totalitarianism, scientism, etc.

The inverse can be harmful too, but unschooled natural law has its own innate balances, and man's desire for the Scared, also innate, soon enough leads to religious refinement and transmission of the morality of natural law which tends toward much less damage then purely intellectualized ethics.

This is just why we have the problems that we have today: We imagine that morality is a branch of Philosophy, or worse, Politics. It is neither.

Formal ethics and the instruction in such, as desirable as it may be, is a much less pressing than inculcating real, traditional values, and formal study has narrower effects. Formal ethics is famously taught in a value neutral manner, it tends not advocate a particular set of values but rather suggests methods to evaluate these values. We are headed onto extreme danger as a society and civilization, best stick to what is tried and true and cast the widest net that we can.

Ethics should be taught anyway, but from the broader perspective of the accumulated traditions and experiences of the West, and we should realize that many (most?) people will not reach morality from a study of ethics.

Morality is a much larger affair altogether. It is imparted often by example and from a loved, respected, and older human to children, and the beginning of this start before the child is literate, or even has complete intellectual individuation. It is deeply related to love and respect for the human and its expression in the moral realm.

Much of this is hard to formalize and it in any event, the formalization is a description or characterization after the fact.
At its best it is followed not because it is utilitarian, nor followed merely from self interest or from fear, but as an assent to the divine order of things.

There are such things as evil, moral absolutes, natural law and the faculty of conscience. There is also such a thing as the Judeo-Christian tradition,hammered out over at least 3,000 years, and it is one that we abandon at out peril. From my vantage there is such a thing as God as well.

Western atheist "ethicists" are merely running on the fumes of that tradition, they just either do not know it or will not admit it. They mostly talk rubbish, for they do not believe in the sacred.

The evil are almost completely ineducable in these matters for they have diseased souls, this is why we call them evil.

On the the other hand children, for example, can (though not always, obviously) conduct themselves with more morality than and adult schooled in ethics; They certainly know when wrong is committed even though they may not be able to articulate why or know how to respond to the wrong, it is in their conscience, not their schooling;, it is an aspect of being human.

The people that harbored jews in Europe during WW2, to give another example, were most often from "lower", less learned social orders with only their religious educations to refine their innate moral gifts.

The Intellect can refine this precious human gift or it can mute and degrade it, and all "ethics" or values are not equal.



I'm glad someone else remembers "kill the guy with the ball." I grew up in Illinois, where we played that game and "smear the queer" - basically the same game.

Friends on the coasts played the latter game, but not the former.

"Kill the guy with the ball" has a Midwestern directness to it.

Buford Gooch

Actually, my company makes robots for our military. They aren't really robots, but avatars. They are controlled by an operator, and, when the trigger is pulled, it is pulled by a human operator. It will be many years, possibly never, before autonomous robots are able to decide to do harm to a human.

JM Hanes

Amused Bystander:

"I think that you should read what I said."

Perhaps you should read what you actually wrote, which is that the soul is the source of ethics and that conscience is God given. It is certainly interesting, however, to hear more about what you meant. I am glad to see that we apparently agree that ethics can, and should, be taught -- which I, personally would distinguish from something which one can intuit.

JM Hanes

DARPA Dude #1: We need a killer robot.

DARPA Dude #2: Ron Arkin is an anti-war robotics genius.

DARPA Dude #1: We need an ethical killer robot.


We (in a Boston suburb) played Kill The Guy With The Ball during recess. For extra non-PCness, sometimes it was the Italian kids vs. the Irish kids with the few remaining Poles & Germans split between the teams. This was back when you had to wear your 'good' clothes to school, no jeans, sneakers and T-shirts--lots of thrilled mothers.

Benjamin Wright

As robots become common in public, existing privacy laws will restrict the ability of the machines to make audio recordings of human conversations. Therefore, robot designers will make the machines record lots of other stuff about each machine's encounter with humans. The records will no doubt include detection of chemicals and odors associated with individual humans. --Ben

Robert Speirs

The survey percentage of troops who said they did not regard all noncombatants as terrorists is missing some witnesses: those who were blown up by apparent noncombatants who were in fact terrorists. How many of those 17 percent who regarded all "noncombatants" as terrorists ("insurgents"?! bah!) had barely escaped death at the hands of the innocent-seeming but evil-minded? In war, attitude is everything.


I do not know how to use the habbo coins ; my friend tells me how to use.

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