Drones, killer robots, and ugly possibilities is a continuation of a subject I have written about before. Blame it on an imagination gone wild or a distrust of those with too much power. Unfortunately, more recent revelations about the American government spying on us, our friends, and the leaders of our allies across the world does little to calm my concerns. We must take note that technology is quickly blurring the line between drones and robots at the same time that the killing power of these machines is being ramped up, we should be afraid! To say these machines have the potential to become formidable and a danger in the wrong hands is an understatement.
Several reports over the last two weeks detailing cases of U.S. armed drones killing civilians and how the U.S. has expanded their use is causing worldwide outrage. Reports from the United Nations, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International, and the lack of transparency on the use of drones from Washington recently resulted in a debate at the UN. A movement has emerged to get ahead of another potential problem by establishing an international ban on fully autonomous lethal weapons dubbed “killer robots,” it’s a technology that can kill targets (humans) without any human input. Whereas drones today have someone somewhere remotely determining where and when to fire, a fully autonomous air, land, or sea weapon could make the decisions on its own.
It sounds like the stuff of sci-fi, but the technology is well within reach given existing weaponry. The U.S. Navy’s X-47B, a Northrop Grumman-developed drone, has taken off and landed on an aircraft carrier entirely on its own, it would only be a short step to add missiles to its weapons bay. The unmanned plane is capable of supersonic twists and turns with a G-force that no human being could manage, and could take autonomous armed combat to a whole new level. In South Korea, several years ago a Samsung subsidiary designed a stationary robot sentry that sits along the demilitarized zone and can identify and fire at a target on its own. It’s linked up with a human operator for now.