Many scientists and robotics experts have sounded the alarm that the parameters for robot development and interaction with humans have not been established within a foolproof ethical framework. This has led to human rights organizations and universities like Cambridge to issue formal cautions against the inevitable rise of “Killer Robots” outfitted with the same moral capacity of the human beings that have given us modern weapons of warfare. Moreover, it has been speculated that we only have a few years remaining to resolve this potential catastrophe.
This concern has spawned an unresolved dialogue at the United Nations, and even the U.S. military is seeking ways to create moral, ethical robots. Such dialogue and warnings might give one the perception that killer robots are not already here. Wrong, they are.
The global drone arms race has spawned a range of systems that are leading toward a fully autonomous matrix of war that will unilaterally direct itself on the battlefield. The U.S. and 90 other countries already employ robots on current missions, although so far they are typically restricted to specific tasks to assist soldiers with dangers such as bomb defusing. There are, however, Modular Advanced Armed Robotic Systems (MAARS) like the one below that are capable of launching grenades or firing weapons from a mobile unit.
The danger, of course, with all military systems is that they have a way of trickling down into everyday life. This is most apparent in the military surveillance technology that has now taken over every major city and Internet connection on the planet.
With the recent uptick in terror attacks, new systems are likely to be more widely embraced and rolled out among a fearful public. Sure enough, citing the threats of “global terror,” China has openly announced the formation of squads of weaponized attack robots that are being termed “anti-terror machines.”
As you will see in the report below from the Telegraph sourcing China’s state news agency, Xinhua, these robots are implied to be autonomous, which is considered to be the final threshold to reach a true “killer robot” scenario. There are apparently 3 models that will be enlisted and, as you will read, their intended use is full-spectrum. My emphasis added….
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“The toy-sized robots can coordinate with each other on the battlefield,” said the report, following their unveiling at the 2015 World Robot Conference in Beijing.
The first model is known as a “reconnaissance” robot, which scouts for poisonous gases, dangerous chemicals and explosives before transmitting its findings back to base.
But with other, more complicated threats, an attacker robot would start its mission, armed with “minor-caliber weapons, recoilless rifles and grenade launchers”.
“With a sighting telescope, a trigger and a safe installed, the attacker can hit its target from a long distance,” Xinhua said.
The local police force in Beijing was reported to be among the buyers for the three robots, which are priced at 1.5 million yuan (£156,000) for the set by manufacturers HIT Robot Group, who are based in the northern city of Harbin.
“Apart from anti-terror operations, they can also be applied in fire fighting, public security, forestry and agriculture,” the company’s sales manager Chen Deqiang said, according to Xinhua.
In an age where war is perceived as peace, perhaps there should be no irony in terrorizing the public with armed machines that make their own decisions under a guise of stopping terrorism. Interestingly, a recent study looked across cultures and countries and concluded overwhelmingly that the public wants to ban killer robots.
Unfortunately, when war becomes peace and business is booming, “the public” often becomes the very last consideration.
If you’d like to make your voice heard, please visit the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots HERE