Autonomous Robots with a License to Kill

The rise of autonomous killing machines is a grim and frightening prospect, but it’s virtually guaranteed to happen.

We already have various levels of autonomy in a number of weapons systems, including cruise and patriot missiles. The Aegis Combat System, which is found aboard naval ships, has an autonomous mode in which it uses powerful computers and radars to track and guide weapons to destroy enemy targets. There’s also Samsung Techwin‘s remote-operated sentry bot — which is currently deployed in the Korean DMZ. And the U.S. packbot/REDOWL system could be easily modified to take out snipers on its own.

Despite calls to halt the development of machine-soldiers that identify and kill without human input, military leaders will not hesitate to use a robot when a human life can be spared. What’s more, these machines will eventually exceed human capacities across a number of physical and cognitive domains. They may also be developed as part of a pending arm’s race.

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