Dr Alf brings us an article from the Japan Times, which ponders the question of the ethics of robots being used to kill people.
The implication seems to be that robots will dispatch people without human involvement, and since they are machines nobody can be held accountable. This, at the moment, does not apply because robots are made by humans are controlled by humans, and lack sufficient artificial intelligence to make decisions on their own.
Since the Opium Wars, in which 100 million people died, we have had: 50 million dead from World War; 2,50 million killed in India when Pakistan broke away, largely due to religious infighting, which Lord Mountbatten did little to stop; 66 million killed in the Gulags by Stalin; 10 million Congolese killed by King Leopold of Belgium; the Holocaust which killed 6 million Jews, 1 million gypsies and another 1 million assorted people; the Armenian genocide by Turkey, in which 3 million died,; Rwanda and Cambodia in which a total of 4 million died; plus, of course, the 70 million Chinese dispatched by Chairman Mao the so called “Great Helmsman”. Each of these events were financed and instigated by a small group of people, often based on events which never happened, like the Gulf of Tonkin incident, which became the trigger for the Vietnam War, which for the Americans officially lasted from 1963 to 1976, and in which 1 million people died, 225,000 North Vietnamese were missing in action, 58,000 American soldiers perished and 2,100 ended up missing in action.
In every one of these wars, no robots were used, so with or without them, we clearly have a predisposition towards violence.
The next phase, before the widespread disposition of fighting and storming robots is perhaps the ekoskeleton and the Pentagon’s dream of a liquid metal “Ironman” suit similar to the one depicted in the film of the same name. That still relies on a human but a human with capabilities not available to a normal human.Robots and the Skynet system of automated nuclear warfare, as depicted in the second Terminator film, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, do pose a problem because to make them accountable you would need an override system. The Pentagon allegedly has plans to launch a real live version of Skynet but naturally has not said when or what manual override system they envisage.
The public in the West want to be protected but are not prepared to pay higher taxes for defense, and are too squeamish to demand really robust action against terrorism. Here robots could perhaps be used to provide “boots on the ground”, and thus save the lives of our young fighting men and woman, whilst efficiently and relentlessly dealing with the escalating threats.
Similarly, with drones, other threats to our way of life can be dealt with in areas, where other methods would cause collateral damage.
Thus for me, there is a sound financial and practical case for using robots to remove dangerous threats to our way of life, wherever they may exist.