While we’re still ways away from Terminators stomping around eliminating all humans it seems that we’re close enough to it that robotics experts, Professor Ronald Arkin and Professor Noel Sharkey, will debate the necessity of autonomous killer robots at the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW).
The debate seems like it will be pretty straight forward. The negatives are quite obvious, as this technology can be used for evil and if a powerful A.I. is in place then the danger becomes even greater. Those in favour of killer robots argue that current laws if war are sufficient enough to address any recurring issues that would occur if these machines were deployed.
Professor Arkin is an advocate for killer robots and believes that they could greatly reduce non-combat casualties and friendly fire. But Arkin fears that these machines will be shipped into battle before they are 100% completed. He went on to say that killer robots might be able to better discern when not to fire, but again this is all speculative at this point.
We’re already heading in the direction of autonomous killing machines with drones being the first step towards that, but drones still require a human pilot, though this is slowly changing.
It should be noted that, according to Human Rights Watch, the United States Defense Department issued a directive that, “requires a human being to be ‘in-the-loop’ when decisions are made about using lethal force,”
While that may sound reassuring it’s not crazy to think that opinions will change when the technology is ready available.