Robots will be patrolling cities by 2040 according to Professor Noel Sharkey, who predicts their tasks will include asking for ID, tasering and arresting suspects as well as crowd control.
In an article entitled 2084: Big robot is watching you, Sharkey, a robotics professor at the University of Sheffield, forecasts a world in which the jobs of surveillance, security and law enforcement have largely been handed over to artificial intelligence.
WIthin the next 30 years, Sharkey asserts that, “Humanoid walking robots would be more in use for crowd control at games, strikes and riots. Robots will patrol city centres and trouble spots where fights are likely to break out.”
“Robots will have reasonable speech perception and be able to ask questions and respond to answers. What is your ID number? What are you doing here? Move along. They may work in teams of tracked robots with non-lethal weapons (e.g. Tasers or nets) and be on call for diffusing difficult situations and arresting people,” adds Sharkey.
As well as performing more mundane tasks like checking tickets and throwing people out of events, robots will also “be able to spray a crowd with RFID tag darts or some futuristic equivalent so that people can be tracked after the crowd has been dispersed,” writes Sharkey.
By 2070, the professor predicts that robots will take on a human appearance and will be able to deploy swarm intelligence technology that will “make escape from capture impossible.” Robot police cars will also roam streets scanning license plates and deduct speeding fines from bank accounts automatically.
Sharkey has become a prominent voice in warning about how DARPA’s fleet of robots, which are ostensibly being developed for “humanitarian” and “emergency response” purposes, are in fact being designed to kill.
“Of course if it’s used for combat, it would be killing civilians as well as it’s not going to be able to discriminate between civilians and soldiers,” Sharkey told the BBC.
His warning has been echoed by Human Rights Watch, as well as former intelligence officer Lt. Col. Douglas Pryer, who wrote an essay warning of the threat posed by remorseless “killer robots” that will be used to stalk and slaughter human targets in the near future.
Last year, experts at the prestigious University of Cambridge announced a project to conduct research into the “extinction-level risks” posed to humanity by artificially intelligent robots.
As we reported in April, Pentagon scientists have already constructed a machine that functions like a human brain and would enable robots to think independently and act autonomously.
Watch a recent TedX lecture given by Sharkey below in which he warns about how robots will inevitably be used as killing machines in the near future and will also “destabilize world security and trigger unintentional wars”.