Killer Robots or Killer Headlines?
By Paul Parkinson
I’ve been tracking the developments since the publication of the article ‘Non-Answer on Armed Robot Pullout From Iraq Reveals Fragile Bot Industry‘ in Popular Mechanics. The article covered the recent RoboBusiness conference and had highlighted the fact that three SWORDS armed robots which had been deployed to Iraq in 2007 and had subsequently been withdrawn. Popular Mechanics cited the US Army’s Program Executive Officer, Kevin Fahey, who reportedly said that there was an incident where "the gun started moving when it was not intended to move".
The article didn’t go into any further details about the
circumstances in question, but that wasn’t enough to prevent some
hysterical headlines in a number of blogs, for example: ‘Combat Robot Attempts Rebellion Against Human Masters in Iraq, Army Pulls Plug for 10-20 Years‘ (Gizmodo), and ‘US war robots in Iraq ‘turned guns’ on fleshy comrades‘ (The Register).