A few days ago I noticed a piece by Katy Waldman on Slate.com about how soldiers may be developing excessively close attachments to the robots, according to a professor who is doing research into "human/robot interrelations".
"She interviewed 23 explosive ordnance personnel—22 men and one women—who worked with robot sidekicks, looking at how they imagined the bots in relation to themselves. She found that some troops anthropomorphized their machines, assigning them names (at times painting them on), genders, and even personalities. And while the soldiers denied that affection for the bots colored their combat strategy, they reported feeling sad and angry when the equipment was destroyed."
The irony, as Waldman notes, is that militaries are developing robots for purposes such as ordnance and explosive demolition to spare human soldiers from engaging in this risky tasks; "if troops care too much about the bots to put them in danger, that hesitance could compromise outcomes in the field."
However, yesterday the New York Times reported that while the US Air Force has done well in acquiring killer (if not lovable) robots, the Army has not had the same success in acquiring funding for so called Autonomous Ground Vehicles. There have been some advances, such as the Legged Squad Support System, a vehicle the size of a cow that can carry 400 pounds of equipment. Watch this video and you can easily imagine soldiers becoming emotionally attached to this device. However, budget reductions, and the ongoing cost of supporting human soldiers damaged in the wars of the last decade, may well mean that the peaceful (or terrifying) future of killer robots predicted here by John Arquilla may not happen anytime soon.