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Should we ban killer robots?

by on December 11, 2012   : Report from the Human rights watch.

I have been researching a little into the topic of banning killer Robots. Recently a hot topic of conversation has been the report from Human Rights Watch suggesting that we should stop while we are ahead. They believe that if we get carried away with the fantasy surrounding robots and automata we could create war fighting drones who will gain intelligence to become fully autonomous killer robots. So we should therefore stop creating them.

In terms of humanity it has done it’s fair share of killing, but the concern is that robots are already so developed and better than us humans are. According to the Human Rights Watch, a machine could independently choose targets, and with that kind of power it would be a horror to humanity, even more so if it does not behave in the way it’s programmers intended.

As discussed in lectures living soldiers can be directed to do terrible things, but the difference between them and robots is that they have consciences.  You could go as far to say that civilian lives might be lost in greater numbers to machines that feel no remorse or compassion.  A machine that can decide when to shoot of course creates fear to the human race, if a human pulls the trigger there are serious consequences. In fact a person who identifies and empathizes with another human being would be more reluctant to harm an individual something which a robot cannot do. A robot however cannot be held truly accountable for committing such a crime. Trying to hold the programmer of commander responsible for the actions of a robot presents us with both ethical and legal problems

But we do need to remember as the report discusses is that these fully autonomous weapons do not yet exist. But on the other hand technology is heading that way, developing fast and some small elements are already in use.  Today’s robotic weapons are still controlled by human beings, requiring some form of human intervention before the weapons take any potentially fatal action. The Human Rights Watch suggests that if this trend continues to develop humans could start to fade out of the decision therefore limiting the amount of control that we have. However we could think from the Military’s perspective the more autonomous weapons we use the less harm done to their soldiers.  


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