thinker sends in an MSNBC report on the development of ethical guidelines for battlefield robots
. The article notes that such robots won't go autonomous for a while yet, and that the guidelines are being drawn up for relatively uncomplicated situations — such as a war zone from which all non-combatents have already fled, so that anybody who shoots at you is a legitimate target. "Smart missiles, rolling robots, and flying drones currently controlled by humans, are being used on the battlefield more every day. But what happens when humans are taken out of the loop, and robots are left to make decisions, like who to kill or what to bomb, on their own? Ronald Arkin, a professor of computer science at Georgia Tech, is in the first stages of developing an 'ethical governor,' a package of software and hardware that tells robots when and what to fire. His book on the subject, Governing Lethal Behavior in Autonomous Robots, comes out this month."