The debate over the role robots will play in the future of warfare is one that is taking place right now as the development of automated lethal technology is truly beginning to take shape. Predator drone style combat machines are just the tip of the iceberg for what is to come down the line of lethal weaponry and some are worried that when robots are calling the shots, things could get a little out of hand.
Recently there has been some debate at the U.N. about “killer robots,” with prominent scientists, researchers, and Human rights organizations all warning that this type of technology – lethal tech. that divorces the need for human control – could cause a slew of unintended consequence to the detriment of humanity.
A study conducted the University of British Columbia shows that this type of terminator like weaponry isn’t sitting well with the general public, as an overwhelming majority of people, regardless of country or culture, want a complete ban placed upon any further development of these autonomous systems of war.
Despite the warnings of risk and concern, this is not stopping arms manufacturers from taking warfare into the twilight zone and bringing the futuristic battlefield scenario where A.I. robots and human are fighting with each other, side by side, closer to everyday reality.
Kalashnikov, the maker of the iconic AK-47, is one of those manufacturers bringing lethal automation and robotics into the present-day as it is currently building a range of products based on neural networks,’ including a fully automated combat module’ that can identify and shoot at its targets.
Defense One is reporting:
The maker of the famous AK-47 rifle is building “a range of products based on neural networks,” including a “fully automated combat module” that can identify and shoot at its targets. That’s what Kalashnikov spokeswoman Sofiya Ivanova told TASS, a Russian government information agency last week. It’s the latest illustration of how the U.S. and Russia differ as they develop artificial intelligence and robotics for warfare.
The Kalashnikov “combat module” will consist of a gun connected to a console that constantly crunches image data “to identify targets and make decisions,” Ivanova told TASS. A Kalashnikov photo that ran with the TASS piece showed a turret-mounted weapon that appeared to fire rounds of 25mm or so.
Defense One points out that in 2012 then-Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter signed a directive forbidding the U.S. to allow any robot or machine to take lethal action without the supervision of a human operator.
Then in 2015, then-Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work said fully automated killing machines were un-American.
“I will make a hypothesis: that authoritarian regimes who believe people are weaknesses,” Work said, “that they cannot be trusted, they will naturally gravitate toward totally automated solutions. Why do I know that? Because that is exactly the way the Soviets conceived of their reconnaissance strike complex. It was going to be completely automated. We believe that the advantage we have as we start this competition is our people.”
According to Sergey Denisentsev, a visiting fellow at the Center For Strategic International Studies, Russian weapons makers see robotics and the artificial intelligence driving them as key to future sales to war makers.
“There is a need to look for new market niches such as electronic warfare systems, small submarines, and robots, but that will require strong promotional effort because a new technology sometimes finds it hard to find a buyer and to convince the buyer that he really needs it, ” Denisentsev said earlier this year.
With my previous reporting dealing with robotics and war, I always point out the incredible advances made by Softbank owned Boston Dynamics in the field of A.I., using it as an example of what future warfare could (or most likely will) look like it. And to be honest, it really is nightmarish.
The bottom line is war is a racket. Killing for political reasons is always disastrous. So the fact that governments are on the verge of possessing this terminator technology should send chills down everyone’s spine.
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