#468 July 11, 2016 – The Ethics of Killer Robots

This week’s headline story: The Ethics of Killer Robots

Northrop Grumman Robot used in Dallas
Northrop Grumman Robot used in Dallas

The use of a robot to kill the man who authorities say fatally shot five Dallas police officers has drawn attention in part because it’s the first time police have used robots in such a manner. After an hours-long standoff that included exchanges of gunfire, and threats of hidden explosives in the area, Dallas Police decided that the safest course of action – to avoid further casualties, was to use a robot to deliver an explosive that killed the gunman. Robots have been used by police bomb squads, in surveillance roles by SWAT teams and in standoffs with armed gunmen in a variety of examples. But never before to deliver lethal force within U.S. borders. Regarding ethics, Arthur Holland Michel, co-director of the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College in New York, cautions the public not to overreact. “These robots are not autonomous. They do not make decisions on their own. They are sophisticated remote-control systems.” Still, the tactic illustrates what police see as the new opportunities for self-defense presented by advancing technologies and the transfer of second-hand military equipment to local police departments. But it also raises difficult ethical questions about how and when such technologies should be deployed in a civilian setting to allow police to kill a suspect while facing little or no risk.

other Technology Headlines…

  • Huge Pokemon Go Craze Brings Malware and Muggers, for Real [NewsFactor]
    iOS version of Pokemon Go is a possible privacy train wreck [AIR techtorials]
    The new mobile game, Pokemon Go, is officially the latest craze! The augmented reality game that has users searching for Pokemon around the neighborhood, surpassed Twitter in the number of daily users on the Android mobile operating system — even as demand for the game caused Nintendo servers to crash. Nintendo’s stock price jumped by almost 25 percent this morning on the heels of last week’s release of the mobile game. However, it’s not all fun and games for the users. Police in Omaha as well as in several Missouri cities have reported that Pokemon Go players have been robbed. The players in Missouri were robbed after being lured to remote “Pokestops.” Other players have reported bruised shins and even broken bones sustained when they were too absorbed in the game to pay close attention to their surroundings. A Wyoming player had the unnerving experience of finding a dead body as she was playing the game. Hackers are taking advantage of the craze by posting malware disguised as Pokemon Go at 3rd party vendor sites. There are also privacy concerns over Pokeman Go on the iPhone, since signing into the app through Google currently gives the game full access to your Google account. Keep these dangers in mind if you decide to join in the fun!
  • UW, Microsoft researchers break record for DNA data storage [U Washington]
    University of Washington and Microsoft researchers have broken what they believe is the world record for the amount of digital data successfully stored — and retrieved — in DNA molecules. The team encoded and decoded 200MB of data including a video, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in more than 100 languages, the top 100 books of Project Gutenberg and the Crop Trust’s seed database all on strands of DNA.

in Information Security News…

  • Your smartwatch is giving away your ATM PIN [Binghamton University]
    Researchers at the Stevens Institute of Technology and Binghamton University, have discovered a way to steal ATM PIN numbers from users wearing smart watches. By recording millimeter-level information of fine-grained hand movements from accelerometers, gyroscopes and magnetometers inside the wearable technologies, the researchers were able to monitor the hand movement of a banker during PIN entry and calculate the PIN code with 90-percent accuracy.

and in Tech Industry News…

  • BlackBerry Ends Production of Classic Smartphone [NewsFactor]
    It was the device that launched the smartphone revolution, but this week, the classic BlackBerry smartphone is no more. The company has confirmed that it will no longer manufacture the iconic BlackBerry Classic with its trademark tactile keyboard

and finally,

  • Apple Releases iOS 10 and macOS Sierra in Public Beta [NewsFactor]
    iPhone and Mac fans who want to test out Apple’s latest operating systems can now download the public beta versions of both iOS 10 and macOS Sierra. Both were recently released, a few months before the final versions are launched in the fall.


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