Open letter from Boston Dynamics and other anti-arms companies

Waltham's company this time declared its remoteness by writing an open letter . It did so together with 5 other companies in the sector: Agility Robotics, Unitree, Anybotics, Clearpath robotics and Open robotics. At a time when videos of robot dogs armed with submachine guns and missile launchers go crazy, these companies have declared their dissent to the weapons.

The fears of the signatories of the open letter

What has stirred the conscience is the growing concern of public opinion towards the viral videos that we have already covered. In particular, "a small number of people who have visibly publicized their impromptu efforts to arm commercially available robots."
"Untrustworthy people, who could use them to invade civil rights or to threaten, harm or intimidate others," the letter continues.

What the collective of companies fears is the risk of harm and this raises serious ethical questions . Not to mention that such armed applications will undermine the idea and public confidence in the technology . All of this at the expense of the enormous benefits robots can bring to society, according to Boston Dynamics and others.

The commitment of the collective of companies

These and other reasons led the signatories of the open letter to declare themselves not in favor of the armed use of their "general-purpose robots". And not only that, in fact, continuing with the drafting of the letter, they also expressed commitments to be maintained to mitigate the proliferation of war phenomena linked to robots.

Open letter

The most obvious of these commitments is not to produce general-purpose robots with the installation of weapons, and the same goes for software . In addition to this, the signatory companies will not support those who venture down this path. In fact, a further effort will be to control the projects of their customers so that they do not use weapons. Lastly, the commitment to seek solutions to mitigate or reduce the risks deriving from weapons through the development of technological solutions in this regard.

The important appeal at the end of the open letter

The authors of the letter conclude with a heartfelt call for the mobilization and collaboration of all, as reported here:

We understand that our commitment alone is not enough to fully address these risks and therefore we ask politicians to work with us to promote the safe use of these robots and to prohibit their misuse. We also urge all organizations, developers, researchers and users in the robotics community to similarly commit not to build, authorize, support or permit the installation of weapons on these robots. We are convinced that the human benefits of these technologies far outweigh the risk of misuse and are excited about a bright future where humans and robots will work side by side to address some of the world's challenges.

Boston Dynamics, Agility Robotics, Unitree, Anybotics, Clearpath robotics, Open robotics

Is this the right initiative?

It is not clear how the situation will evolve, even a few years from now. Everyone knows about Boston Dynamics' past and it is no mystery that they developed the first prototypes for DARPA. As is well known, the use of the spot robot dog by the French army, but in practical scenarios.

Open letter

Some comments received on the net do not bode well for a success of the initiative. Phrases such as: "Once I have purchased the product, I should be free to use it as I prefer".
Or many attribute a badly concealed hypocrisy to the main company underwriting the letter, recalling precisely the financial origins of its most famous robots.

The fact is that in the history of humanity many newly introduced technologies have always had a double-edged impact on the public. There were those who looked at them with enthusiasm and those who condemned them with ferocity. This happened with electricity, nuclear power or telecommunications, just to name a few.

And like these, Boston Dynamics and other companies have understood that the problem is in the use made of it, not in the technology itself.

The article Open Letter from Boston Dynamics and other anti-arms companies was written on: Tech CuE | Close-up Engineering .