Whenever we talk about something insane involving robots, it’s only a matter of time before DARPA comes up. Essentially the mad science division of the Armed Forces, DARPA does all sorts of weird, usually ill-advised stuff. Their latest brainstorm? Teaching robots the value of teamwork.
Called “Collaborative Operations In Denied Environment”, DARPA just put up a job announcement. And you don’t have to read very far between the lines to see what they want to do:
DARPA is soliciting innovative research proposals in the area of advanced collaborative autonomy for aerial platforms. Proposed research should investigate innovative approaches that enable revolutionary advances in algorithms and software, and, to a lesser extent, devices or systems.
In other words, DARPA wants systems where, when flying robots get near each other, they say “Hey, I’m a robot! Wanna kill all humans?” “Sure, bro!” And then they start blasting Hellfire missiles at everything.
OK, so in theory, what it will do will allow robots to hand off missions they’re assigned if they’re damaged, or offer cover so that the other robot can complete its mission, or any of a host of other things anybody who has seen a Terminator movie is vaguely uncomfortable with a robot doing.
This will, of course, be incredibly useful militarily provided DARPA can actually get it to work. Of course, if it doesn’t, there’s always the contract for making robots learn in the field, the ability to make bioweapons in the field and God only knows what else. We’re looking forward to when all this stuff filters down to the civilian level, because then the fun really starts.