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Robotics The Military

The Struggle To Ban Killer Robots 138

Lasrick (2629253) writes "The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots is a year old; the same month is was founded, the UN's special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions called for a moratorium on the development and deployment of autonomous lethal weapons while a special commission considered the issue. The campaign is succeeding at bringing attention to the issue, but it's possible that it's too late, and if governments don't come to a common understanding of what the problems and solutions are, the movement is doomed. As this article points out, one of the most contentious issues is the question of what constitutes an autonomous weapons system: 'Setting the threshold of autonomy is going to involve significant debate, because machine decision-making exists on a continuum.' Another, equally important issue of course is whether a ban is realistic."
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The Struggle To Ban Killer Robots

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  • Okay, I'll admit... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mrxak ( 727974 ) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @06:51PM (#46954469)

    Okay, I'll admit, when I read the first sentence of TFS, I figured this was some kind of joke campaign or something. I guess my mind is too much in science fiction, and not really noticing that the future is already here.

    Still, do we really think the governments of the world (at least the ones with the resources to build these robots) are actually going to go for fully autonomous killing machines? I would think all of them would want humans in the loop, if for no other reason than to justify their military hierarchies. The USAF, for example, seems determined to keep pilots in planes.

  • Unfortunately, no. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @07:11PM (#46954601)
    There at least 3 different levels of problems here:

    1) Does this even make sense: No. Autonomy is not well-defined. Does a thermostat make "decisions"? etc.

    2) Assuming it makes sense, is it a good idea: No. Firing a cruise missile at a target is better than firing a huge barrage of mortars towards a target, for everybody involved. Any smarter version of a landmine would be better than the current ones that "decide" to blow up whatever touches them 20 years after the war is over.

    3) Assuming it's a good idea, can it be implemented: No. Arms races are often bad for everybody involved. Everybody involved knows this. And yet that universal realization does not provide a way out. Everybody knows if they don't, the other side might well anyways.

  • Re:Too late. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @07:37PM (#46954791)

    The very LAST thing you want is a cheap war, at least if you value peace at least a little. If war is cheap, what's keeping you from using it with impunity when you have the strongest army on the planet?

    Quite seriously, the only thing that keeps the US from simply browbeating everyone into submission that doesn't want to play by their rules is that it's a bit too expensive to wage war against the rest of the world.

"If you lived today as if it were your last, you'd buy up a box of rockets and fire them all off, wouldn't you?" -- Garrison Keillor