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Mars AI NASA Space

Laser-Armed Martian Robot Now Vaporizing Targets of Its Own Free Will (dailymail.co.uk) 73

Slashdot reader Rei writes: NASA -- having already populated the Red Planet with robots and armed a car-sized nuclear juggernaut with a laser -- have now decided to grant fire control of that laser over to a new AI system operating on the rover itself. Intended to increase the scientific data-gathering throughput on the sometimes glitching rover's journey, the improved AEGIS system eliminates the need for a series of back-and-forth communication sessions to select targets and aim the laser.
Rei's original submission included a longer riff on The War of the Worlds, ending with a reminder to any future AI overlords that "I have a medical condition that renders me unfit to toil in any hypothetical subterranean lithium mines..."
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Laser-Armed Martian Robot Now Vaporizing Targets of Its Own Free Will

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  • by anyaristow ( 1448609 ) on Sunday July 24, 2016 @11:45AM (#52570575)

    Once upon a time the icon would have been a shark. Sigh.

    • Once upon a time the icon would have been a shark. Sigh.

      To be fair, sharks would suffocate / freeze / explode on Mars.

      • by drnb ( 2434720 )

        Once upon a time the icon would have been a shark. Sigh.

        To be fair, sharks would suffocate / freeze / explode on Mars.

        Not the robotic space probe sharks. Nor the native marian sharks, keep in mind they think they found surface water that freezes and melts periodically. Stay away from any standing martian water.

    • Once upon a time the icon would have been a shark. Sigh.

      And since when is HAL's camera blue? Hmm what color was SAL's camera?

    • by ShaunC ( 203807 )

      Look on the bright side, at least they didn't use the DEC logo.

  • Don't want it shooting one of own wheels off, thinking was some curious object that didn't seem to belong.

    Giving such a young machine free will and a laser, isn't that a little like leaving the gun on the kitchen table where the four year old can grab it while you're out in the garden?

    • isn't that a little like leaving the gun on the kitchen table where the four year old can grab it while you're out in the garden?

      Or under the seat of the truck [chicagotribune.com], or in your purse [usatoday.com], or under a pillow [time.com].
      • Yeah, let's not take this too far off base. It's only a story about Socratic rovers with frickin' lasers, not a another troll fest on gun control or he who shall not be named. Try to maintain some detachment. If the joke doesn't work, please, just say so.

    • Don't want it shooting one of own wheels off, thinking was some curious object that didn't seem to belong.

      Giving such a young machine free will and a laser, isn't that a little like leaving the gun on the kitchen table where the four year old can grab it while you're out in the garden?

      I want my childhood over! We only found magnifying glasses in the kitchen drawer... no wait, actually dad's desk drawer.

  • by jdagius ( 589920 ) on Sunday July 24, 2016 @12:57PM (#52570899)

    This is journalistic BS, disguised as 'science'. Like all computers, these robotic vehicles do only what they are programmed to do. Even so-called "random number generators" are deterministic, given the seed which generates them.

    We won't be able to impart true "free will" to machines, in the human sense, until we eventually verify that we humans actually do have free will and understand how it works in us. Including understanding self-awareness ("consciousness") and how human reasoning and volition works. (Seems to be and "analog" process, not "digital").

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You admit that you have no idea how "free will" emerges, but you pretend to know that a "machine" can't have it. I don't believe that the Mars rover or any AI program has volition comparable to a human's, but I don't see any reason why future computers shouldn't acquire it. Even current computers, as deterministic as they are (modulo physical glitches and IO), are often beyond predictable, and their decisions are increasingly hard to trace back and explain by humans. As to "free will" -- I've never understo

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You play a game of semantics. "Free will" is a word we made up. It only seems mysterious because the definition is deliberately vague.

      We observe that humans make decisions, whereas rocks don't. So we slapped this word "free will" on that behavior and got ourselves all confused.

      First, you give me a clear, precise, no-bullshit-word-games definition of "free will," and then I will tell you whether or not computers do it.

      While we are at it, "consciousness" is an extremely sloppy word full of equivocation and

    • by Anonymous Coward

      What makes you think humans aren't deterministic but everything else is? Surely not science.

    • by jdagius ( 589920 )

      > A number of the current hardware random number generators use either resistor noise or balanced diodes.

      Yes, by sampling avalanche noise etc. But these devices have to be carefully timed and balanced to eliminate sampling biases. I doubt that such finicky devices would be used in remotely deployed systems. Indeed, the pseudo-random generators tend to be far more useful, in a systems engineering sense, because test sequences can be easily generated by repeating a seed number, for regression testing etc.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Robots and AIs do decisions they were not programmed for all the time. There are errors in logic, cosmic rays, new unplanned situations, emergent properties of complex systems, chaos. There's no use classifying anything as "free will" or not if you can't define it though.

    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      This is journalistic BS, disguised as 'science'.

      Its from the Daily Mail, so the "journalistic" part is completely incorrect.

    • It's cute that you think you have free will
  • If you don't pay me 1 million dollars the laser will blowup washington dc

  • yea, we all have that, that's why we build these things in the first place.
  • I'm coming for you!

  • https://xkcd.com/1504/ [xkcd.com] "That's Opportunity's side of the planet."
    • by Rei ( 128717 )

      The sad thing is that Spirit could still be with us today too if things had played out differently. When Spirit got stuck a lot of their early attempts to get out so that they could get to a good wintering grounds were in vain. However, right near the end they came up with a clever way to "swim" the wheels through the sand and were nearly out when winter hit and they had to leave it in a poor location... where it failed to wake up the next spring, most likely due to excessively low internal temperatures.

      C

  • When it was Star trek the motion picture.
  • Some poor martian will be continually shouting, "Ow! Knock it off! Ow! stop following me!..."

  • If there are any aliens on mars, could this be a war provocation? Now they could send, to eartg, a huge scientific 6 leg robot to start laser probing our citys.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Seeing as how a turtle could outrun Curiosity's top speed of 0.09 mph, I think world domination might take a while.

  • So just like in Quatermass and the Pit, we are the martians.

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