Opinion – Why robots will be granted a license to kill, in Japan and everywhere else | The Japan Times – John Gelmini

Sergeant Jason Mero describes the capabilities...

Sergeant Jason Mero describes the capabilities of the Special Weapons Observation Remote Direct-Action System at the Washington Auto Show. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dr Alf brings us an article from the Japan Times, which ponders the question of the ethics of robots being used to kill people.

The implication seems to be that robots will dispatch people without human involvement, and since they are machines nobody can be held accountable. This, at the moment, does not apply because robots are made by humans are controlled by humans, and lack sufficient artificial intelligence to make decisions on their own.

Since the Opium Wars, in which 100 million people died, we have had: 50 million dead from World War; 2,50 million killed in India when Pakistan broke away, largely due to religious infighting, which Lord Mountbatten did little to stop; 66 million killed in the Gulags by Stalin; 10 million Congolese killed by King Leopold of Belgium; the Holocaust which killed 6 million Jews, 1 million gypsies and another 1 million assorted people; the Armenian genocide by Turkey, in which 3 million died,; Rwanda and Cambodia in which a total of 4 million died; plus, of course, the 70 million Chinese dispatched by Chairman Mao the so called “Great Helmsman”. Each of these events were financed and instigated by a small group of people, often based on events which never happened, like the Gulf of Tonkin incident, which became the trigger for the Vietnam War, which for the Americans officially lasted from 1963 to 1976, and in which 1 million people died, 225,000 North Vietnamese were missing in action, 58,000 American soldiers perished and 2,100 ended up missing in action.

In every one of these wars, no robots were used, so with or without them, we clearly have a predisposition towards violence.

The next phase, before the widespread disposition of fighting and storming robots is perhaps the ekoskeleton and the Pentagon’s dream of a liquid metal “Ironman” suit similar to the one depicted in the film of the same name. That still relies on a human but a human with capabilities not available to a normal human.Robots and the Skynet system of automated nuclear warfare, as depicted in the second Terminator film, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, do pose a problem because to make them accountable you would need an override system. The Pentagon allegedly has plans to launch a real live version of Skynet but naturally has not said when or what manual override system they envisage.

The public in the West want to be protected but are not prepared to pay higher taxes for defense, and are too squeamish to demand really robust action against terrorism. Here robots could perhaps be used to provide “boots on the ground”, and thus save the lives of our young fighting men and woman, whilst efficiently and relentlessly dealing with the escalating threats.

Similarly, with drones, other threats to our way of life can be dealt with in areas, where other methods would cause collateral damage.

Thus for me, there is a sound financial and practical case for using robots to remove dangerous threats to our way of life, wherever they may exist.

Open this link for graphical examples of the latest robots


John Gelmini

The follies of the UK’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) – John Gelmini

Second Life: National Health Service (UK):

Second Life: National Health Service (UK): (Photo credit: rosefirerising)


The Public Accounts Committee does a good job of creating interesting theatre and making it appear that this or that Chief Executive, foreign business person, Climate Change Professor or NHS official is being put on the rack.


This latest episode is in the same mold with the recalcitrant NHS people grilled publicly, admonished by Margaret Hodge, made to squirm and made to either grovel, answer back or be contrite.


Then once they are full of “contrition“, they promise never to do it again, that they have “robust plans in place”, that nothing like it”will ever happen again”, “that the culprits have been identified and removed”, that they have new”robust processes in place”, that “the important thing now is to “look forward”.


The proceedings are televised, reported on in the press, the guilty men and woman leave and then go back to doing exactly the same thing again and again and again.


Rarely, if ever, is anyone fired, suspended or held accountable.


If they are, after a short interval,  they reappear just like the advanced Terminator in the Hollywood film Terminator 2, which was made out of liquid metal and able to reconstitute itself and metamorphose into any shape even after doing battle with the good Terminator played by Arnold Schwarzenegger.


Often the only way we can discover what has happened to these people is by reading the satirical magazine Private Eye because only the right wing “red tops” and the Telegraph when it decides to go after fraud and waste are able or willing to do the job.


Sometimes their reappearances are as very expensive interims, sometimes if they have made monumental mistakes and cost the taxpayer dearly we are told that they are “Tough acts to follow”.


Never are these incompetent and mendacious people fired and stripped of their ability to function in the same role in the same way as Directors can be struck off and barred from being a director for up to 15 years or doctors can be barred from practicing medicine by the General Medical Council.


In all other walks of life, at a mundane level, non-performance is rewarded with a performance management regime at best and more often than not summary dismissal.


Similarly, a look at the job boards for interim managers and consultants for the NHS reveals that “NHS experience of commissioning, contracts or whatever it happens to be is essential”.


Dr Alf, from his sun drenched Mediterranean lair, has once again hit the nail on the head, in exposing the NHS for what it is, a bloated, inefficient structure which is beyond reform and needs to be replaced with something very much better.



Let me turn this to two open question:


  1. Why is the PAC so weak that the same errors are repeated time and time again?,
  2. What should be done to make the PAC more effective?




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