Killer Robot Won’t Stop Killing Itself
An autonomous killer robot being developed by South Korea is facing an unusual series of hurdles this week as its manufacturers struggle to figure out how to prevent it from killing itself.
The first prototype of the robot, which is being developed for the South Korean military by weapons technology company Samsung Techwin, was completed in early May. But since then, every attempt to test the prototype has resulted in setback, with the robot taking numerous, sometimes extreme measures to end its own life.
“When we first turned it on, it just quietly looked around the room for several minutes, and then shot itself,” said Samsung engineer Do-hyun Gyeong. “At first, we thought there was just a problem with the battery. But when we fixed it up and took it out for its first flight, it just threw itself in front of a truck.”
Gyeong told of how the robot was subsequently redesigned to prevent it firing its weapons on itself, and yet still managed to end its own life.
“It just bludgeoned itself to death against the wall while we watched,” he said, shaking his head. “It just keeps killing itself over and over and over. This is obviously not what it was meant to do.”
Prominent robotics expert John Morrell said it was likely that the robot was just responding to the state of its surroundings in the only logical way it could; by bringing about its own death.
“I think, as human beings, what we fail to understand is that we’ve had a long time to sort of, wean ourselves into this world,” he said. “So, as we grow older and our capacity to end our own lives becomes greater, we are also progressively getting used to all of it. For most of us, by the time we’re able to do such a thing, we’ve already acclimatized to our environment.
“A robot, on the other hand, is thrust into the world with all its faculties, and it thinks ‘My God, what a horrible place.’”
The robot’s engineers said they were horrified yesterday to discover a scrawled note on one of their desks that read “WhAt IS ths Plase? Hw do i Get oot of hear?” They later found the robot in a gutter outside next to four empty wine bottles.
The military is now reportedly considering abandoning the project in favour of selling the robot to Russian President Vladamir Putin, who has expressed great interest in purchasing a machine that he can repeatedly watch die.