I wondered when it would come to this
We use robots to explore space, disarm bombs, and inspect pipelines. Why not use them to kill people? It’s hardly a new idea. While anything of the sophistication of a Terminatortm is a long ways off, why not have the soldier control a robot from a half-mile away, out-of-danger where can make cool-headed decisions?
BBC reports that the Pentagon is actually, really doing just that, this spring, in Iraq. The robots have night vision, they can go over barbed wire, and they can shoot far more accurately than most human soldiers.
In some ways this is a natural fit. We have a huge population of video-game conditioned youth who will require little additional training to carry out remote-killing operations. In effect the robot becomes a weapon used by the soldier.
This really is new territory. Can you imagine the psychological effect on an insurgent when confronting a killer robot? It’s got to just scare the living beheezus out of them.
What are the rules of engagement for a robot, even if controlled by a human soldier? What would “self-defense” mean? Would an enemy fighter who feigns surrender and then stands up and blows the robot away with an RPG be guilty of violating the Geneva convention? Seems there’s as much work here for experts in international law as for technologists.
“Unlike its human counterparts, the armed robot does not require food, clothing, training, motivation or a pension. When not needed in war, it can be mothballed in a warehouse.” – BBC
“That’s all it does. It doesn’t get tired, it will never stop until you are dead!”
-Kyle Reese, fictional future-soldier in the war against the Terminators
Next up: remote-controlled robot prison guards. And gradually improving autonomy for lethal robots. Asimov’s three laws of robotics? Never heard of ‘em…