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Future hazard: Robots throwing things at you


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7 replies to this topic

#1
funkervogt

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They only went out to play a calm game of petanque and enjoy some late summer warmth by a Parisian canal. By the end of the evening, the three friends had neutralized a knife-wielding attacker who had stabbed seven people, with an unlikely weapon: the game’s clanking — and hefty — metal balls.

 
Lobbing them in their dozens at the attacker and whacking him on the head with a wooden plank, they managed to bring the horror that befell the 19th district on Sunday night to an end. 

 

https://apnews.com/7...-Paris-attacker

 

This makes me realize that a future hazard will be super-strong robots that can throw things at humans with high accuracy and force. The Terminator wouldn't have to walk up to you to beat you up, he could throw a rock or any nearby object at you from 60 feet away and hit you in the head, 



#2
Jakob

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Or the robot could throw a small, high-velocity lead slug at you from 600 feet away and hit you in the head. In fact, any idiot can do that, robot or no.



#3
funkervogt

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Or the robot could throw a small, high-velocity lead slug at you from 600 feet away and hit you in the head. In fact, any idiot can do that, robot or no.

That's not true. Most people are terrible shots with guns. Even with a scoped rifle, they'd struggle to hit a man-sized target unless they had relevant experience in the military, law enforcement, or a civilian gun hobby. 

 

Anyway, I didn't mention guns in my original post. My point was that robots could kill or seriously hurt people by throwing objects at them at ranges that humans can't. A wide variety of ordinary objects would become lethal weapons. 



#4
Jakob

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Or the robot could throw a small, high-velocity lead slug at you from 600 feet away and hit you in the head. In fact, any idiot can do that, robot or no.

That's not true. Most people are terrible shots with guns. Even with a scoped rifle, they'd struggle to hit a man-sized target unless they had relevant experience in the military, law enforcement, or a civilian gun hobby. 

 

Anyway, I didn't mention guns in my original post. My point was that robots could kill or seriously hurt people by throwing objects at them at ranges that humans can't. A wide variety of ordinary objects would become lethal weapons. 

 

My point is that this is rather impractical when you could just stick a gun on a robot, or use one yourself.



#5
funkervogt

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Or the robot could throw a small, high-velocity lead slug at you from 600 feet away and hit you in the head. In fact, any idiot can do that, robot or no.

That's not true. Most people are terrible shots with guns. Even with a scoped rifle, they'd struggle to hit a man-sized target unless they had relevant experience in the military, law enforcement, or a civilian gun hobby. 

 

Anyway, I didn't mention guns in my original post. My point was that robots could kill or seriously hurt people by throwing objects at them at ranges that humans can't. A wide variety of ordinary objects would become lethal weapons. 

 

My point is that this is rather impractical when you could just stick a gun on a robot, or use one yourself.

 

Yes, and my point is that some robots wouldn't need guns at all to kill or severely injure humans at medium ranges. Even a robot without a gun in its hands will still be potentially lethal at a distance. Being able to turn a wide variety of common objects (rocks, bricks, kitchen knives, handfuls of nails) into highly damaging projectiles delivered with high accuracy to the target is a highly practical ability to have. 



#6
Alislaws

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I assume with the throwing things we're talking about some humanoid robot that generally mimics human capabilities, (but exceeds them obvs.)? 

 

I think there are 2 ways things could go in robotics: ​Either we manage to get really good at humanoid robots, then we use them for everything (this is easy, because we don't need to redesign all our human tools) the other option will be that humanoids are too hard/expensive so specialist robots for many roles will be developed, and the ability to throw will only exist in robots where it is needed, or where it is a by-product of their designed function, in which case it will be less of a concern. 

 

Obviously if your goal is war or violence and you have humanoid robots it would make sense to arm them with guns, but it might well make more sense to have armed quadcopter drones instead of humanoid robots. We have a lot of testing to do to figure out what makes military sense in a robot war. 

 

This does raise the idea that many places may end up restricting robot ownership, as firearms are restricted. Even if the danger is minimal, some of the wealthy people who own a lot of robots would lobby for restrictions to make their robots more valuable and create barriers too entry for their competition.

 

In terms of other ways to turn theoretically peaceful robots into riot bots:

Larger Quadcopter style Drones can also be pretty heavy so they could deactivate themselves and fall on people, or ram them in the face at max speed, oh also they are basically covered in rotating knives, so that's an option. 

 

Driverless flying passenger drones are bigger, heavier and have rotating swords attached, and would have the added benefit of a confused and terrorised passenger/hostage, making stopping it more difficult.   

 

Driverless vehicles will allow the "drive vehicle through crowd of innocent people" style attacks, it will take a lot more skills than it currently does to set it up, but much less chance of being caught, and the passenger/hostage bonus, obviously driverless school buses would need extra security (and they'll need someone there to supervise the kids anyway) 

 

I'd suspect most homicidal religious fundamentalists are not actually the brightest people intellectually so this might be a method of terrorism used more by groups with better technical skills.



#7
funkervogt

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I assume with the throwing things we're talking about some humanoid robot that generally mimics human capabilities, (but exceeds them obvs.)? 

Humanoid robots could of course throw objects like humans, but non-humanoid robots could do so as well. Any robot with at least one arm and a stable body that could resist the force of the arm's jerking motion could do it. 

 

 

 

I think there are 2 ways things could go in robotics: ​Either we manage to get really good at humanoid robots, then we use them for everything (this is easy, because we don't need to redesign all our human tools) the other option will be that humanoids are too hard/expensive so specialist robots for many roles will be developed,

In the short to medium term, we won't have humanoid robots, but in the long term we will. 

 

 

 

and the ability to throw will only exist in robots where it is needed, or where it is a by-product of their designed function, in which case it will be less of a concern. 

As I said, if a robot has an arm appendage, a stabilized body, and human levels of strength and flexibility, it could throw objects. The accuracy would be superior to ours, but the force would be dependent on how strong it was. Still, such a robot would pose a real threat to humans. Imagine in 20 years a four-legged house robot with two arms coming out of the top that could throw steak knives as hard as an average man, but also accurately and precisely enough to hit a pie-plate-sized target from 50 feet away, over and over again. 

 

 

 

Obviously if your goal is war or violence and you have humanoid robots it would make sense to arm them with guns, but it might well make more sense to have armed quadcopter drones instead of humanoid robots. We have a lot of testing to do to figure out what makes military sense in a robot war. 

I think the misunderstanding you made on this thread is assuming that I implied that the best means robots will have to kill humans is throwing random objects at them. I never said or implied that. Of course it will be most efficient to create purpose-specific military robots--mostly armed with guns--for that task. In starting this thread, I merely pointed out that robots could also kill or injure humans by throwing things at them. 

 

 

 

This does raise the idea that many places may end up restricting robot ownership, as firearms are restricted.

Maybe. I think it would be a good idea to limit most robots' strength and speed to being no greater than the average human adult's. Why does your robot butler need to be able to bench press 200 lbs? 



#8
Alislaws

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I think the misunderstanding you made on this thread is assuming that I implied that the best means robots will have to kill humans is throwing random objects at them. I never said or implied that. Of course it will be most efficient to create purpose-specific military robots--mostly armed with guns--for that task. In starting this thread, I merely pointed out that robots could also kill or injure humans by throwing things at them. 

 

Sorry should have been clearer, I understood that you were not saying "in the future our military will have robots throwing spears at people instead of using guns".

 

I was just acknowledging Jakob's point, that when violence is the goal we would certainly use guns (or lasers or whatever, depending how far in the future this is), but was then agreeing with you that the ability to throw objects harder and more accurately than the peak of human ability would make many non-military robots potentially very dangerous so it may result in issues around terrorism and robot licencing.

 

I think you're right that it would likely result in rules limiting the capabilities of many robots that don't need them. There would still be issues around things like construction robots, where there are good practical reasons for them to be strong and flexible. 

 

I think the main dangers of this are:

1. people using the danger as an excuse to promote monopolisation

2. Terrorist attacks using robots

3. people not thinking these risks through, and then eventually some guy running a construction company sets his thousands of robots off on a rampage and kills half a town somewhere. Or installs crap security and a hacker/terrorist sets of his robots either way.

 

(in no particular order)


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