Humans have been trying to improve their ability to maim and kill for as long as history can tell us, whether it is for self-defence or for ensuring their survival, we humans have always put a lot of effort into making efficient and ruthless weapons. Modern warfare is incredibly devastating thanks to explosives, killing machines powered by oil and gunpowder and nuclear weaponry that has the potential to permanently scar our planet. Unfortunately, the creation of nuclear weapons was not enough to signal countries to slow down the development of their weaponry.
The world is soon about to see the next big step in modern warfare; unmanned autonomous weapon systems, computerized machines that shall have the ability to select, identify and kill targets without humans having to tell them anything at all. Robots with the ability to kill is a pretty old concept, one that is quite common in the Science Fiction genre, but now this futuristic idea is finally becoming reality. While unmanned weapon systems have been under development for many years, this technology was not thought of as much of a threat, however it has finally reached a phase where it has become a big enough concern to have military artificial intelligence persons from across the world gather for a meeting in the U.N offices.
This meeting gave us plenty of insights on how far the world’s armies had come with artificial intelligence; the Russian Government’s personnel announced their development of a weapon that would make use of neural networks to decide whether to shoot or not, the US department of defence also showcased their development of fully autonomous drones flying in a swarm. According to what the US DOD shared at the meeting, this drone swarm acted as a single organism and has a huge number of options for weaponizing them.
There has been a lot of debating against automated weapon development for quite a while now, mostly because of the fact that having a killer robot that has no emotions and no conscience deciding who should it kill and not kill is quite frightening. The scariest fact is that despite all the protests against the development of such weapons, the world’s leading militaries have already made a lot of progress in this field. Leading countries are several steps ahead of regulating authorities, meaning that there is very little control over what kind of weapons are currently being worked on.
While fully automated and unmanned weapons sound really cool and technologically impressive, they can also become really big threats on the battlefield; a machine that decides who lives and who dies will have a hard time identifying civilians from combatants and knowing when to stop killing the opposing force. The list of potential problems robots can introduce to the battlefield is quite long, the biggest being a complete lack of human judgement on the battlefield. Killer robots sound fascinating, but they are equally dangerous.