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Imagining Robot Battles in the Caliphate.

Imagining Robot Battles in the Caliphate.

    How long will it be before we have robot armies that are controlled by humans who make the kill decisions? Probably closer than you think. Here’s what I think it will look like.

    The “robots” will be armored vehicles full of armed drones, with extra battery packs that can be hot-swapped during a battle, without human help. Now imagine that the armored vehicles approach a battle and let loose a flock of drones. The drones can identify targets and ask for human permission before firing. As batteries run down, a continuous set of new armored vehicles and drones is flowing into battle. The key to a robot army is numbers. Humans can kill most robots if they can focus on them. A swarm of hobby-sized drones will be a lot harder to address.

    But here’s the interesting part. Instead of one human operator per drone, the kill decision could be made by a three-person vote. In other words, you need two-out-of-three military observers to agree to each kill shot, but instantly (sub second) during an actual battle. That should cut down on the innocent deaths. Robots don’t need to panic or protect themselves, so they can take more reasoned shots than humans. They can also operate indoors if they have to. 

    Another robot bonus: One translator could be on call to speak to humans through drones flying at head level. That way your translator is wherever the drones are.

    You also need some door-kicking robots, perhaps one per armored vehicle. Those too would have limited range, so you would use them only when needed.

    I have predicted that a robot army will someday prevent the Caliphate from expanding beyond its borders. Expect the robot army to be mostly hobby-sized drones. Human-sized robots are easy targets and too hard to recharge.

    How far away does a robot army of small drones look to you? I say five years.

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