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Jihadis: We turned hacked killbots against US troops

ROTM fever spreads to mujahideen press office

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In a strange twist of fate it has emerged that gutter hacks, writing for a well known publication offering tasty mechanically recovered news-like media product, have handed a stunning propaganda coup to jihadi terrorism. We're obviously very sorry*.

The story began last month, when scribblers from Popular Mechanics, attending a very boring robot business conference, reported thus:

[Blah blah blah] Armed Robot Pullout from Iraq [Blah blah robot industry] ...

Last year, three armed ground bots were deployed to Iraq. But the remote-operated SWORDS units were almost immediately pulled off the battlefield ... Here at the conference, the Army’s Program Executive Officer for Ground Forces, Kevin Fahey ... confirmed that ... "the gun started moving when it was not intended to move." In other words, the SWORDS swung around in the wrong direction, and the plug got pulled fast.

The Reg killer robot desk handled this according to our rigorous code of journalistic ethics, running it under the perfectly reasonable subhead "Kill-droid rebellion thwarted ... this time". At least we didn't say the robots had been withdrawn from Iraq - which was lucky ethical of us, because they haven't. (We did sort of hint that the SWORDS had been bent on a mechanised orgy of slaughter that would only end with the extinction of the human race, and that US troops had possibly had to suppress them using secret/nonexistent electromagnetic pulse bombs; but hey. It was Friday.)

Everyone on the internet with a sense of humour, in fact, had lots of fun with the story. But controversial UK gov spinoff outfit Qinetiq, nowadays owners of SWORDS maker Foster-Miller, got in a grump. They said that actually the robot guns had never made an uncommanded move. Well, not in Iraq, that is; the three occasions Fahey had presumably been thinking of actually occurred in the States, which is obviously much better. Anyway, those problems had been dealt with. Without the use of electropulse bombs.

The war-bot company shouted mainly at Pop Mech, for some reason (maybe - it's just a guess - because they were the ones who'd started the hugely enjoyable brouhaha and made up the withdrawal from Iraq bit). Tearfully, the Pop Mech scribes explained to the world that it wasn't their fault. Bigger kids had pushed them in the stingers at breaktime and taken their story away.

"It’s not Popular Mechanics that is stoking the fire," they blubbed. "The story took on a mutated life all its own ... others have used our story to generate a false online rumor ..."

They aren't joking, because now Wired are reporting that jihadi propaganda outlets claim that the [not actually] rogue robots weren't trying to wipe out their fleshy masters and usher in a new age of machine civilisation at all. The jihadists claim the killer droids were hacked by blackhatsturbans in the pay of the Iraqi insurgency, who redirected them against their US masters and precipitated the machines' [imaginary] withdrawal from the country.

The conclusion is obvious. Reading killer-robot stories instead of proper news rots your teeth, contributes to global warming, kills pandas ... and helps terrorism.®

*That Popular Mechanics could have done such an awful thing.

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