With the advent of fully autonomous weapons called the “killer bots”, the question of losing humanity is at stake. Since, technology is taking giant steps towards high-tech military capabilities, the nations across the globe are moving towards techniques that provide better combat autonomy by integrating these self-governing machines.
Technologically it’s not difficult to morph controllers from humans to fully autonomous systems but a bot can never empathize with a mortal being and hence would definitely pose a threat to global sustainability.
The robotic weapons are divided into three categories, with respect to the element of human involvement, these are:
- Human-in-the-Loop Weapons – Human command is required for delivering force once the target has been selected.
- Human-on-the-Loop Weapons – The machine selects and attacks the target under the oversight of a human operator.
- Human-out -of -the-Loop Weapons –The system itself selects target and attacks without any human endeavor.
Bots can work in an assembly line, but can never be intelligent. Although with the element of strong artificial intelligence, these machines may try to mimic human thought process but this would not qualify them for containing the basic human qualities. Moreover, for robots performing tasks in dynamic environment and in reconstructing strategies & paths still remains a challenge. However, these emotionless bots might serve as tools of repressive dictators. Mercilessly marching across the theatre of war and killing masses.
Proponents are of the view that by depending on these machines in battle zones would lessen the military casualties but what about the civilians caught in the crossfire. Who would be held responsible for mass killing, the military commander for deploying it, the programmer for creating it, the manufacturer for making it or the bot itself?
It would totally erode the question of accountability forget about the retributive justice.
If we crane our necks towards future, we’ll find that these bots will change the way we do business, fight wars and live our lives. As a matter of fact, we actually are surrounded by robots be it cooking food in kitchen, cleaning homes, running cars, mobiles all are bots but with no face.
Currently technology – via radio, TV, telephone, internet – is instrumental in bringing world to us but soon enough the bots will eclipse this role of technology for us. Yes, the concept if iRobot could be a reality. We have already witnessed the dramatically changed warfare because of the presence of drones or unmanned armed vehicles.
Other than the ethical dilemma (like than with cloning and now with these killer bots), two more questions loom before us:
First, how far are they prepared to combat the risk of re-programming and hacking by rivals?
Second, is a worst-case scenario, the algorithms of autonomous systems start communicating with each other, then what?