The inhumane treatment of robots
May 9, 2007 The development of robots for the U.S. Military is primarily so they can do jobs that keep humans out of harm's way. One of the world’s foremost roboticists, the delightfully eccentric Mark Tilden, recently encountered an interesting response while testing an autonomous landmine-detecting robot according to the Washington Post. Tilden is best known as the designer of Wowee’s Robosapien, RoboReptile ad infinitum range of robotic toys, but has worked for NASA and more recently Los Alamos National Laboratory where he is developing a five feet long stick-insect-like autonomous robot designed to step on landmines, get itself blown up, then intelligently adapt so that it can continue onwards with its remaining legs and step on more mines. During a demonstration, where the robot was continually blown up until it was down to one leg, Tilden was ordered to stop by an Army Colonel who was distressed at seeing the crippled robot hobbling toward the next landmine. With his judgement clouded no doubt by seeing humans engaged in the real thing, the Colonel declared the demonstration was inhumane.