So, I already have robots in my setting in the form of artifacts, from golems to the Antiochian Holy Hand Grenade. Artifacts, though exotic, are nothing more than advanced technology, so much so that almost all of them require molecular nanotechnology to be reproduced.

The problem is with Mephisto's Immortals. An army of at least 300 (juxtaposition intended) animatronics (humanoid robots in silly suits that might or might not be armor plates), some dressed as SS officers on top of that.

Aside from their creator's edgy design choices, they are fairly high quality and able to tank 2, if lucky, 3 point-blank shots from a .50 cal Barret and can use artifacts themselves. They have access to camouflage and have the option to be either remotely controlled or use their (more primitive) onboard AI, though they remain just as lethal.

Meph hates when people break his stuff, so expect countermeasures to be applied where physically possible and not extremely impractical.

Manufacturing animatronics requires molecular nanotechnology, their operation a plentitude of gasoline. Animatronics are water-resistant, their muscles are pneumatically actuated, there's an emphasis on making their communication untappable and unjammable.

So, how can a portable, dedicated anti-robot (as in next to useless against organics) hard-to-counter artifact work?

  • $\begingroup$ Hint: introduce halting problem $\endgroup$ – user6760 Jun 6 '20 at 10:34

If the artifact releases an EMP, then yes.

An EMP is able to force electrons in and out of circuits and magnetic media randomly scrambling thier data; however, it has very little effect on humans. This basically destroys any kind of digital media wiping the AIs out that drive the robots. Even if you reestablish communications with the robots, to take "manual" control over them, they still won't work because all the programming responsible for governing things like encoding stimulus input and co-coordinating locomotion will also be lost.

Your robots will need to essentially be factory reset from an installation file that was not caught in the EMP to get up and running again, and you probably won't be able to do that remotely unless the robot has an entirely functional networking protocol hardwired into it. Since Meph is a stickler for countermeasures his robots probably use too complex of a networking protocol to be hard-wired.

The robots probably have some sort of faraday cage type protection to prevent weaker EMPs, but a person sized robot will be a bit limited to how much EM shielding it can have; so, a reasonably large EMP should still be effective.

  • $\begingroup$ Reasonably large or reasonably close? $\endgroup$ – Mephistopheles Jun 6 '20 at 10:59
  • $\begingroup$ @Mephistopheles Flux compression generator bombs are single use, but they are not very big and can fire a powerful directed EMP. If you need multi-use, non-nuclear electromagnetic pulse weapons are basically high powered microwave generators. Their specs tend to be pretty classified; so, finding information on minimum sizes and power requirements is hard, but you are already allowing a fair amount of future tech; so, hypothesizing a future where one could be hand portable is not that far fetched. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki Jun 14 '20 at 17:37

Well, lets them discuss this:


The aliens in this video can be inferred to be machine entities, especially based on the warning that "Humans are immune to all but the strongest magnetic fields and all known Halting Problem Attacks"

So we can move and fight in environments with strong magnetic fields and cripple AI through the use of sophisticated software like Halting Problem Attacks (much like Captain Kirk in classic Star Trek causing sentient computers to lock up with logic problems and paradoxes.

The video also has several sidebars which also suggest avenues of approach to fight AI, robotics and similar threats.

Earth, for example, does not host "nano viral replicators, antimemetic devices or singularity modification". I suspect the effects of these devices might be equally fatal to humans, so caution is advised.

The most startling capability of humans is, of course, self delusion. AI's, being programmed with various forms of logic, will be unable to determine what exactly the human is thinking or planning, and thus as things progress, the AI will have its OODA loop disrupted (unable to properly interpret observations or orient itself to the situation) and end up running farther and farther behind as the humans make seemingly erratic and illogical moves and decisions.

So fundamentally, according to the machine entries themselves, humans really need to do little differently from what they do now in order to defeat the AI's.

Special thanks to Tom Scott for being able to intercept this communication and provide us all with valuable information allowing us to go forward.....

  • $\begingroup$ This makes me think of self driving cars that block traffic or cause accidents because they don't know how to handle things like loitering pedestrians or another car going backwards $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki Jun 6 '20 at 14:35
  • $\begingroup$ But there is a human-like being controlling these robots from afar. $\endgroup$ – Mephistopheles Jun 6 '20 at 18:17
  • $\begingroup$ @Mephistopheles Powerful magnetic fields would have the same effect as an EMP. It would totally wipe it's OS leaving no interface for remote control. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki Jun 14 '20 at 17:45
  • $\begingroup$ Halting problem attacks are a form of self sustained DoS attack. The robot's processing capacity would be reached putting it into a sustained state of thrashing which would cripple its ability to process input from its controller. That said, modern OSes are pretty good at overcoming stopping problem attacks; so, these are not usually viable attack vectors anymore. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki Jun 14 '20 at 17:45
  • $\begingroup$ As for human logic, magicians have proven that we are more predicable than we think. Given a small number of priming stimuli, humans very frequently start coming up with the same "random" answers to problems which is how those "I know what you are thinking" tricks work. As it turns out, learning AI are much better at being unpredictable than humans. So much so that, pro-chess players can often identify strategies that were invented by really good humans vs really good AIs based on how counter intuitive they are. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki Jun 14 '20 at 17:53

I think the best bet for a portable anti-robot artefact would be an amped up taser. Most sophisticated electronics are vulnerable to electrostatic discharge (ESD) and the majority of tasers currently work at at least 50KV, easily dealing enough damage to destroy their software. The issue would be getting the taser itself to penetrate their metal bodies, as opposed to the organic bodies tasers are designed for.

While this might not destroy the robots themselves for good, it would certainly fry their communication, leaving them vulnerable and potentially cut off from the rest.


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