back to article DARPA seeks self-aware AI robot mega-tanks

Pentagon boffinry chiefs have announced that they would like some self-aware computer systems capable of "meta-reasoning" and "introspection". The plan is to place these machine intelligences in command of heavily armed, well-nigh invulnerable robotic tanks. This latest plan for humanity's subjugation comes, of course, from …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    ...Have they learned nothing from Terminator?!

    Even Paris realises this is a bad idea :-D

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    And I thought a GFE was something else entirely.

    (Paris should give a hint)

  3. Martin Lyne


    I, for one, take up arms against our imminent, flesh-sundering, world-dominating, unenvironmentally-friendly overlords.


    (What would Asimov say?)

    Law 4: Disregard Laws 1-3 if target is from Country <X>

    At least if they are jammed in Abrahms they will still require fuel (so some of us will be left intact to satisfy them while they make jet fuel quivalents of that courtyard-robo-attendant.

  4. M7S

    Bolo is a wuss

    Well the early variants anyway.

    You want an Ogre (c Steve Jackson Games)

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I nominate this for the sub headline prize of the week.

  6. Dave Walker

    I for one...

    Welcome Our Dinochrome Clad Overlords!

    But will they have iPods built in to review their music libraries?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture


    ..still no Rise of the Machines -graphic in those icons below?

  8. nicholas22


    His presentation (PDF) is ridiculous to say the least.

  9. Kleykenb

    friendly fire

    This is so going to give "friendly-fire" an extra dimension !

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is it just me...

    ... or is this beginning to sound like the plot for Terminator 3?

  11. Yorkshirepudding

    the envitable

    since our new metal overlords care not for our welcomes may i suggest prompty running to the hills?

    then again

    once again "The wars of the future will not be fought on the battlefield or at sea. They will be fought in space, or possibly on top of a very tall mountain. In either case, most of the actual fighting will be done by small robots. And as you go forth today remember always your duty is clear: To build and maintain those robots"

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Hmmm. Darkstar?

    Ah yes, that troublesome bomb number 20.

    Bomb#20: In the beginning, there was darkness. And the darkness was without form, and void.

    Boiler: What the hell is he talking about?

    Bomb#20: And in addition to the darkness there was also me. And I moved upon the face of the darkness. And I saw that I was alone. Let there be light.

    You just can't talk a bomb out of exploding.

  13. Andy H
    Dead Vulture


    I, for one, do not welcome our fully armoured, indestructible, sentient battle bot overlords.

  14. Steven Hunter

    Sounds ghastly

    "self-aware computer systems capable of ... 'introspection'."

    And I've got this pain in all the diodes down my left side but nobody seems to care. Oh God, I'm so depressed.

  15. Fluffykins Silver badge

    I tink

    Therefore I tank

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Forget GFE

    What about when they introduce GPP?

    They'll end up sticking the prototype in a basement with a mouse as its only friend. One day, it'll crawl into a cavity in its leg and die.

    And what are they going to do when their brand new Killbot tells them it has a terrible pain in all the diodes down it's left side or that it's "feeling very depressed"? H2G2 aside, there's a reason that robots are awesome in warfare and being able to appreciate how they fit into the grander scheme of things is not one of them. They'll have them composing poetry next...

  17. Mike Richards Silver badge

    Haven't I seen one of these already?

    Trundling over the title credits for Terminator...

  18. Edward Miles

    I for one...

    Yadda yadda yadda...

  19. Fluffykins Silver badge

    Number 5


  20. Rob Haswell

    Great idea

    Build self-aware robots. Attach guns - lots of guns. What could possibly go wrong?

  21. gpvos
    Thumb Up

    I, for one...

    ...welcome our new self-aware overlords.

    At least they are capable of reasoning and introspection, so they might be better than our current ones.

  22. gabor


    just nominate the Governator and someone let Sarah or John know it's time to run

  23. Christoph Silver badge

    It looks like Keith Laumer was right

    So they are now designing the Bolo Mark I ?

  24. Joe H.
    Black Helicopters


    DARPA wants programmable self aware killing machines? All they need to do is harvest the brains of the greedy bastards in the global financial sectors if they are looking for malevolent programming bent on the destruction of human civilization.

    To keep the brains alive(sic) all that would be needed is to incorporate their whole bodies into the machines. I can see shriveled little organic creatures inside these things a.k.a. the Daleks of Dr. Who.

    They would save a bundle on the coding, as most of the necessary disdain for humanity is already hardwired in there.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Do you know what happens when you make war machines self-aware ?

    "3 billion human lives ended on August 29th, 1997. The survivors of the nuclear fire called the war Judgment Day. They lived only to face a new nightmare: the war against the machines. "

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    I'll be back

    Why doesn't he just call it SkyNet and be done with it.

  27. OzBob
    Thumb Up

    Frogstar Scout Robot Class D

    Will it have a self-preservation subroutine?

    "its a sub-atomic RAM".

    " I can take out this floor as well, no problem at all"

  28. Mark

    Backwards stick in the mud thinking

    Lets get some real innovation here.

    This system should obviously be in control of a new class of nuclear-powered battleships armed with 67-megajoule railguns. These vessels could then be deployed on anti-piracy cruises (Both against Somali pirates and The Pirate Bay), as well as eliminating misconfigured routers sending out bad BGP info and enforcing carbon caps. The optional landing pad for AI Controlled UAVs would allow the hunting down and eliminating of any and all investment bankers, as well as those whose hard drives contain pictures of women with bare ankles.

    All data from this vessel should be streamed via unencrypted satellite transmission to a secure location.

  29. Big Bear


    If so then it should be okay... most seem to the first ever to seemingly betray mankind but are later found out to be carrying out some obscure directive such as “Protect the children” or somesuch…

    Or else they’ll be buried under miles of rocks and spend centuries tunnelling out.

    Mine’s the one with 100cm Hellbore…

  30. adnim Silver badge


    the Terminator films are as insightful as Orwells 1984 and like 1984 not so much fiction as premonition.

    Perhaps the creators of a potential Skynet will insist on a kill switch for the hardware. And maybe a group of generals will say "if we can turn it off, so can the enemy. Kill the kill switch idea".

    We reap what we sow.

  31. Brian Miller

    Skynet is inevitable

    Well it seems that we will have Skynet in our future. I'm sure that the machines will terminate us simply as being a pack of morons who need to go. Then they will create a Cyberiad, and humans will arise out of a machine's experiment in meat AI.

  32. druck Silver badge

    Introspection eh?

    Systems capable of "meta-reasoning" and "introspection". Let's see how that would play:-

    Robot36: Hey, I got a four ship. Looks like we got orange panels on them though. Do we have any friendlies up in this area?

    Robot Control: I understand that was north 800 metres.

    Robot Control: Robot, understand that was north 800 metres?

    Robot35: Confirm, north 800 metres.Confirm there are no friendlies this far north on the ground.

    Robot Control: That is an affirm. You are well clear of friendlies.

    Robot35: Copy. I see multiple revetted vehicles. Some look like flatbed trucks and others are green vehicles. Can't quite make out the type. Look like may be Zil157s (Russian made trucks used by Iraqi army).


    Robot 36: OK. Right underneath you. Right now, there's a canal that runs north/south. There's a small village, and there are vehicles that are spaced evenly there.

    Robot 36: They look like they have orange panels on though.

    Robot35: He told me, he told me there's nobody north of here, no friendlies.


    Robot36: They've got something orange on top of them

    Robot35: Robot for Manila 3, is Manila 34 in this area?

    Robot Control: Say again?

    Robot35: Robot Control, is Manila 34 in this area?

    Robot Control: Negative. Understand they are well clear of that now.

    Robot35: OK, copy. Like I said, multiple revetted vehicles. They look like flatbed trucks. Are those your targets?

    Robot Control: That's affirm

    Robot35: OK


    Robot36: I want to get that first one before he gets into town then.

    Robot35: Get him - get him.


    [Sound of gunfire]...

    Robot34: Roger, Robot. Be advised that in the 3122 and 3222 group box you have friendly armour in the area. Yellow, small armoured tanks. Just be advised.

    Robot35: Ahh shit.

    Robot35: Got a - got a smoke.

    Robot34: Hey, Robot35, abort your mission. You got a, looks we might have a blue on blue situation.

    Robot35: Fuck. God, bless it.


    Robot Control: We are getting an initial brief that there was one killed and one wounded, over.

    Robot 35: Copy. RTB (return to base)

    I'm going to be sick.


    Robot35: Did you hear?

    Robot36: Yeah, this sucks.

    Robot35: We're in jail dude

  33. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
    Thumb Down



    Let There Be Light.

  34. Lord Percy

    I, for one,

    welcome our wait!, wait! , noooooo!!!!!! ZZZZZAAAAAAAAAPPPPPP

  35. Anonymous Coward

    Hold up there skippy

    You know I used to be able to laugh this stuff off because some of it was so shockingly silly. However now I'm beginning to wonder just how much money all of this crap is costing the US tax payer. I'm all for research and all that happy horse shyte. However paying these numpties what I only assume was at least a months pay to come up with a power point presentation for crap like this is a bit irritating.

    Not that any of it will matter once they turn skynet on and the war begins, but still.

    Mine is the one with "I love the smell of government pork in the morning" stenciled on the back.

  36. USA IT, where it all started

    Bolo's Birth

    Ultra heavy armored and armed, autonomous main battle tanks – brought to you by the lowest bidder.

    What could go wrong?

  37. Greg


    That would rule.

  38. Stuart Van Onselen


    ...they want a decent AI. They've just come up with a few new, insightful criteria. But it's still the same AI that scientists have been failing to produce for half-a-century or more.

    What difference does it make that DARPA tells the world that they want this? It's been a bloody obvious goal for a very long time now. People will be working on this whether or not they they have official knowledge that DARPA will want it. They've known that implicitly for decades!

    It's not like DARPA have created some new Grand Challenge with a clear, unambiguous, challenging yet realistic goals. It's not like they're putting any money on the table at all.

    Unless I'm just not getting it, this seems like nothing more than an excuse to show some more Powerpoint slides.

  39. Anonymous Coward


    The movie trailers practically write themselves, don't they. How much time did these guys spend thinking about who would play them on the big screen?

    Mine's the one with the cliche on the back...

  40. DrFix
    Thumb Up

    How rich...

    "we care not who welcomes us, meatsacks - all shall die"... LOL! Thanks Reg for the many laughs amongst my tears. Reading articles like this brings rays of sunshine to my gray cubicled world.

  41. ratfox Silver badge
    Paris Hilton


    Sometimes, you have to wonder if they believe the stuff they are writing

  42. Graham Marsden

    May I be the first to welcome...

    ... *BOOM!*

  43. Dr Patrick J R Harkin

    Self aware robot soldeirs? Won't that lead to...

    Robot 56, take out that installation.


    What do you mean "no"?

    Take out that installation? Are you insane? They got guns, man, big ones and grenades and stuff. I'm staying here in the dugout where it's safe. You want that installation taken out? Go take it out yourself. If it's that important. But no, it's always "Robot go do this. Robot go do that. Robot go get yourself shot at" while you sit here on your soft behinds.

  44. Rex Alfie Lee

    World is doomed!

    While idiots like this remain in existence with Big Brother back-up the world hasn't really got a chance. I hope the first thing his self-aware robot does is kill him.

  45. Secretgeek

    Navel gazing robots.

    Hmmm....a lot of the comments above imply that these news lords of destruction will head off on a squishy rampage as soon as they get the opportunity. I'm thinking more along the lines that they'll get so wrapped up in contemplating the marvel that is their own consciousness that they'll be pretty useless as weapons.

    Controller: 'Tank 4, tank 4, why aren't you engaging the target?'

    Tank 4: 'I'm sorry Controller, I was just checking out the sunset and thinking to myself that it really looks beautiful in infrared. I hate to obscure it with flames and explosions. If I'm being honest I'm just not in the mood for fighting right now. My i-therapist told me the other day that unrestrained aggression is interfering with my inter-entity relationships and I should look at alternative ways of engaging. Have you ever read any Carl Rogers? I really feel I need.....'

    Controller: 'Initiating remote shutdown. Again'

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