A debate has heated up about the future of unmanned weapons of war. International human rights groups have issued a 50-page cautionary report about the potential for losing control over systems that are increasingly autonomous. Cambridge University issued their warning through a study officially known as the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, where they warn that one of the greatest threats that humanity faces are “terminators.”
While the Pentagon has thus far insisted that automated systems will never supplant human decision making, and various military analysts don’t see any type of autonomous machine warfare as likely before 2030, a recent video by defense contractor General Atomics puts a very specific date on the next generation of drone warfare – 2017. This video is very slickly produced and speaks for itself in terms of what type of capabilities of the Predator C Avenger they are selling, but what should be highlighted is their stated goal to reduce the number of humans and increase the number of Unmanned Aerial Systems. Cost-reduction is mentioned as a key component of the flexibility that can be offered.
Also worth noting is the multiple weapons capability of this single aircraft employing a range of missiles, as well as the recently discussed “death ray” directed energy weapon. Lastly, it is disturbing to see the video game feel of this entire presentation, even referring to the fantastic “plug and play” functionality. Does this video convince you that warfare is likely to end anytime soon?
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