Wunderkind starts robot-buster weapons firm
Noel Sharkey backs RoTM droid-defence biz bonanza
Famed dotcom 1.0 teen millionaire Ben Way has started a company specialising in anti-robot weaponry. Way foresees lucrative business opportunities in suppressing the inevitable rogue killbots and machine rebellions to be expected in coming years.
The new company, WAR Defence (Weapons Against Robots) was launched this week.
"The use of robotics in the military is on the up," said Way in a statement.
"Although the decision to take human life is currently still taken by another human, before long such decisions will be made ... within a robot.
"Within 15 years robots will be commonplace in the home, and in just another 15 it is likely that they will have the same physical abilities as humans.
"Potentially the consequences of a computer crashing could be devastating. Hence, robotic defence is not just necessary for tackling combatants, but potentially for making sure we have control over our own weaponry."
The techbiz wunderkind, who left school at 16, is now in his late 20s and handles an array of techy ventures via his London-based Rainmakers operation (sample quote: "What we do is not easy to sum up; we invent, create and connect...")
Apart from the new robo-busting venture, Rainmakers is also instrumental in a web-to-mail application referred to as "post over internet protocol", a firm of green plumbers who arrive in electric vans and similar flava-du-jour notionry projects. WAR Defence thus far appears to have little substance beyond the Rainmakers phone number and a flash-heavy, info-lite website.
Nonetheless, the company assures the soon-to-be-annihilated population that it is engaged in all kinds of hefty droid-defence tech development. Promised goodies include "Autonomous-Against-Autonomous" and "Biological-Against-Autonomous" weaponry, plus "real-time detection systems" with "HUD integration" and "pattern movement tracking" to scan for "robotic entities".
If these don't stem the tide of malignant mayhem-minded mechanoids bent upon humanity's overthrow, WAR Defence promises "robo viruses" able to "infiltrate and control" the enemy droids; or alternatively you might be interested in some "molten metal ballistics".
Astonishingly, Way reckons that he's already in product development on the legendary, circuitry-frying electropulse/high-powered-microwave bomb. Despite the fact that even the mighty US military don't see any such programme starting until 2012 - assuming success in ongoing basic-principles research - WAR Defence says it is already working on the Electric Storm-AX1, a "simple to use microwave high energy device that disrupts and destroys nearby electrical systems". Even more remarkably, according to the accompanying graphic the Storm-AX1 appears to run on clockwork.
By now it will come as no surprise that Way's efforts to defend humanity against the coming frenzy of automated slaughter have won authoritative backing from Professor Noel Sharkey of Sheffield Uni. Sharkey (sample quote: "I can imagine a little girl being zapped because she points her ice cream at a robot to share") is well-known for his colourful robopocalypse warnings.
Speaking of Way's WAR Defence effort, the media'n'AI prof said that the planned virus plagues, pulse bombs and robot sniffers would surely come in handy when the machine praetorians of tomorrow's corrupt human polities inevitably turn on their jaded fleshy overlords.
"This is the first real response that I have seen to the predicted rise in the use of autonomous military robots," said the arm-waving prof, quoted by Way. "It testifies to the dangerous slippery slope that we seem to be inevitably sliding down.
"Ben Way has certainly picked up on the magnitude of the impending threat ... I really hope that it does not come down to the use of these devices."
According to the WAR Defence press release:
WAR Defence is the world's first defence company specifically targeted at protecting us against the current and emerging threats posed by robotics and is said to be already in talks with several Government defence agencies.
We phoned up WAR Defence and asked who had said they were in talks with several government defence agencies, and whether it was true. A company spokesperson said "I don't know", and promised to get back to us. Company PR later confirmed that this was a question which could only be answered by Mr Way himself, but he couldn't be reached just then.
As of publication we haven't heard anything further. ®
Sweet Seduction is a Powerful Weapon with No Known Valid Effective Defence
"The only weapon we'll ever need...... the humble staircase. That's yer robot rebellion stumped right there, that is." ... By Anonymous Coward Posted Wednesday 17th September 2008 22:50 GMT
Ye Olde Stalwart, Room at the Top, Ploy, AC And there's Depth in Unknown Defence there too, with Wild Card Rogue Action Possible ...... for those Bolts out of the Blue which Level the Field to IntelAIgent Advantage.
Stairway to hell.
@ AC . When in say the centre of Salisbury Plains being pursued by a horde of blood thirsty kilbots, where exactly would you produce your handy bot defeating staircase from?
Personally, a large calibre slug thrower would be my preference ( no not the slimy things that eat lettuce,I mean soft nosed, semi jacketed lead slugs.)
reply to lewis' reply
You make a good point. Ben's press team did indeed ask my permission to use my quote. It does not mean that I endorse his products - naive as that may sound - I am taking every opportunity to raise public awareness of the issues. I am seeing more and more moves towards autonomous weaponry every day.
You also correctly point out a confusion that I introduced in my open letter about the word control. Let me try to clarify. When I say that I have no fear of robot overlords, I don't mean that I am not worried about "robots out of control". There are two different senses of control here. One is the direct remote control of robots and the other , which I intended, is control in the sense of being responsible for which robots are developed and deciding how the robots will be used.
All machines under our control can go out of control - they do not have to be smart to do so. I mean that they will not in themselves have any intent to do us harm - they are just machines whether autonomous or remote controlled.
The point that I keep banging on about and will keep banging on about until everyone is sick of it is that the planned development of autonomous weapons does not take into account the fact that none of the available methods of sensing equip a robot to distinguish between combatants and innocent civilians.
And Lewis, even though you do not appear agree with me, I am always glad to see you writing about it and providing the opportunity for a wider discussion.
May I point you and your other readers to the Armed Unmanned Systems Forum of AUVSI for further reading on the topic. http://www.unsysinst.org/forum/viewforum.php?f=89&sid=348e8c8baed97bae9f70451e90293223