No Evil Robots
Prevent evil robots from taking over the
Just say no to robot weapons and violent robot competitions.
BBC story describes the deployment of armed mobile robots by the
US forces in Iraq in early 2005. The robot is teleoperated; a human
pulls the trigger by remote control.
It is not a trivial matter to make this robot autonomous; it
would require a sensor suite and control software that is at the very
edge of the current state of the art, or beyond.
However, scientists and engineers now have a choice whether or not
to develop future autonomous armed robots.
Taking a life is generally considered a major moral decision in
which the killer, even a soldier in combat, bears individual
responsibility. Autonomous weapons decouple the killer from the
killed; compared to a conventional combat soldier or police officer,
the deployer of a robot weapon faces reduced personal risk and may
feel reduced responsibility for deaths that result.
Autonomous weapons promise to reduce these disincentives to the use
of conventional weapons, with the risk that such weapons may be used
Currently, autonomous killer robots do not exist. Control and
sensing technology isn't quite to the point where we can make them
work reliably. But everything else is in place, and many of the
remaining problems look solvable in the medium-term.
As a robotics researcher, you can choose today whether you want to
build autonomous killer robots. If we don't build them, they can never
menace us and our families, and they can't take over the world.
Have an opinion?
Georgia Tech's "Opinion Survey on the Use of Robots Capable of Lethal Force in Warfare"
Related news articles
In date order, most recent first:
- Cornelia Dean, A Soldier, Taking Orders From Its Ethical Judgment Center, New York Times, 24 Nov 2008
- Kris Osborn, iRobot unveils larger Warrior, Army
Times, 10 Oct 2007.
- Noah Sachtman, Automated AA gun malfunctions, accidentally killing soldiers,
Wired, October 18 2007.
- Pete Warren, "Launching a new kind of warfare", The Guardian, 26 Oct 2006
- Tim Weiner, "A
New Model Army Soldier Rolls Closer to the Battlefield", New York Times, February 16, 2005 (NYT subscription required, unfortunately)
- [unattributed], "US
plans 'robot troops' for Iraq", BBC News, January 23, 2005
- Eric Baard, "Make Robots Not War", Village Voice, September 10, 2003.