Thursday, February 11, 2010

BBC on Robo Wars

Chris Bowlby at BBC Radio 4 has been doing shows and articles on robot soldiers. One article, Can battlefield robots take the place of soldier?, is particularly relevant to our concerns about ethical considerations arising from the roboticization of the military.
But the speed of modern warfare can make direct human control difficult, says Peter Singer, author of Wired for War.
Take the automated counter-artillery system deployed in Afghanistan.
"The human reaction time when there's an incoming canon shell is basically we can get to mid-curse word… [This] system reacts and shoots it down in mid-air. We are in the loop. We can turn the system off, we can turn it on, but our power really isn't true decision-making power. It's veto power now," Singer says.

"Robots that are programmed properly are less likely to make errors and kill non-combatants, innocent people, because they're not emotional, they won't be afraid, act irresponsibly in some situations," says Robert Finkelstein.
But Christopher Coker of the London School of Economics, an observer of wars past and present, disagrees.

"We should put our trust in the human factor," he says.
"Unfortunately the military in their reports often see the human factor as what they call the weakest link. I don't think it's the weakest link. I think it's the strongest link."

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