Military sets out to create 'moral' robots

The U.S. military is awarding a multi-million dollar contract to anyone able to build a robot capable of deciding right from wrong and understand moral consequences.

According to the Office of Naval Research, the military is looking to build robots that have the capability of deciding right from wrong.

Engineers who believe they can pull off the feat will be competing for $7.5 million in grant money.

Can it be done? Well, experts say we're getting closer.

"Even though today's unmanned systems are ‘dumb' in comparison to human counterparts, strides are being made to incorporate more automation at a faster pace than we've seen before," direct of cognitive science program at the Office of Naval Research Paul Bello told Defense One. "As researchers, we are playing catch-up trying to figure out the ethical and legal implications."

As of right now, the U.S. military prohibits fully autonomous robots that can be used for lethal force. So any "moral" robot invented would not be able to be a "soldier" in the military sense. Despite the ban, military officials believe that moral robots could be used in other instances.

For example, Bello said, these types of robots could be used in non-lethal missions such as search-and-rescue operations and disaster crises.

Both military leaders and members of the artificial intelligence stress the importance of moral decision making in robots.

Researcher Steven Omohundro, an American scientist who conducted ground-breaking research in the area of Hamiltonian physics, told Defense One that, "Human lives and property rest on the outcomes of these decisions, and so it is critical that they be made carefully and with full knowledge of the capabilities and limitations of the systems involved."

Robots with consciences would have an additional benefit--avoiding an all-out war with computers as shown in the The Terminator.

Read the whole article at Defense One.

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