New Walking Military Robots Suggest AI Future For War

Boston Dynamics has just released new video of PETMAN, their anthropomorphic robot. It mimics human physiology — even sweating in response to high temperatures or humidity — to test military chemical protection suits. But an army white paper suggests future roles for robots in handling explosives, mobile reconnaissance, and reducing soldier workload — and acknowledges robotic systems may already have saved hundreds of lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In fact, one think tank is raising questions about the ultimate prospect of robot soldiers. “It is tough enough for us to train human soldiers to distinguish between combatants and noncombatants on the battlefield. It is much more difficult to write software that does that.”

But a university researcher counters that robots might actually make better decisions “in the fog of war,” and it all comes back to the classic debate: whether one day an AI could outthink a human.