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Autonomous robots- the third revolution in warfare, after gunpowder and nuclear arms

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Posted June 3, 2015

The autonomous weapons systems such as LAWS, EXACTOsmart bombs, and some other current developments have stirred a debate over positive and negative aspects of autonomous robots that are being empowered with artificial intelligence. That means their robots could work without human interference once activated. They will be able to take decision and to chose and kill at their own.  Moreover, they have already entered as unmanned drones in US military and are presently deployed alongside human soldiers.

BAE Systems' Taranis drone has autonomous elements, but relies on humans for combat decisions. Image credit: Tony Garner/BAE

BAE Systems’ Taranis drone has autonomous elements, but relies on humans for combat decisions. Image credit: Tony Garner/BAE

The US military aims at replacing one-third of their military strength with autonomous robots. These robots will do a great favor to humanity. It will be possible to create lesser grieving families of soldiers who die in battlefields.

Many critics such as Stuart Russel, Professor of computer science, University of California, Berkeley have raised concern over robotic ethics of artificial intelligence. A recent research paper published in Nature said:

“Automated weapon systems could violate fundamental principles of human dignity by allowing machines to choose whom to kill — for example, they might be tasked to eliminate anyone exhibiting ‘threatening behavior’. The potential for those technologies to bleed over into peacetime policing functions is evident to human-rights organizations and drone manufacturers.”

Why autonomous robotics is the third revolution in warfare?

However, irrespective of their negative and positive impacts; development of autonomous, advance military robots is the third revolution in warfare after gunpowder and nuclear weapon. We can discuss both sides of the coins and then talk about it, but we can’t conclude much right now. Artificial intelligence is a developing field and science is still striving to make most of it.

It’s not just one country that is laying emphasis on autonomous robots. United Kingdom and Israel are in race too. Also, China is preparing a 42,000 military drone army according to US reports.

Limitless capabilities of warfare robots

We already know about autonomous unmanned drones that are capable of spying, surveillance, and carrying payloads including ammunition. However, DARPA is aiming for more than that. They had been working on projects like BigDog and Cheetah; advanced robots capable of running, climbing, hiking with four legs on any surface while carrying over 300 pounds that might include anything from weapons, batteries, supplies, machinery etc. You name it; it’ll deliver more than a human soldier can.

Similarly, the Cheetah project wants to deliver a robot that behaves exactly like a real cat does. It can run fast and catch preys with lighting speed. Prays could be anything, but in warfare the prey will be humans or may be enemy robots. USA isn’t the only nation working on autonomous warfare robots.

How about daVinci surgical robot that is highly-specialized in treating soldiers remotely when they are closer to dangerous battlefield? Silicon Alley’s RoboteX has got a little robot that will carry a gun and fire away to blow a hole in a steel door from hundreds of meters away. It can jam radios and communication devices around it. There are many other examples where robots are emerging as superhero characters. A number of other underwater robot, humanoids, and spy insects are in development too.

Conflict is a human tendency; why not replace human lives with robots?

It’s apparent that conflict with each other, even with nature, is a tendency of human mind. People with guns or solider on the other side of the border means every nation needs solid defense. Presently, human solider put their lives at risk, but with the advent of autonomous robots, it’s possible to take an armed stand but without worrying about dead soldiers. If a robot is destroyed, it’s still bearable, but loss of a human life is always a waste in warfare.

Accurate killers as well as live saviors

The Terminator: Judgment Day and  iRobot; are movies that have already shown how lethal artificial intelligence can be if autonomous robots are equipped with it to make them capable of taking decision at their own. An autonomous robot with a attached gun, sensors, cameras and advanced communication technologies can pick a target and deploy at will in case of a intense combat. Small drones will shoot every shot with an accuracy that human reflexes can’t provide.

However, destruction and killing isn’t the sole purpose behind the development of such robots. They can be used to rescue human lives in battlefield under highly lethal conditions.  A robot can carry rescue or reinforcement to a troop otherwise disconnected and surrounded by enemy.  A robot can run across a battle field to carry immediate first-aid to wounded soldiers. These robots will be the first to open the door of a space suspected of planted with explosives or a place hijacked by terrorists. It can send visuals, location, and map of a place to assist solders.

That makes the development of autonomous military robots the third revolution in warfare.

Sources:

Robotics: Ethics of artificial intelligence

What Might A Killerbot Arms Race Look Like?

Big Dog Robot Family Gets A Faster, Lighter Little Brother

China Is Building 42,000 Military Drones: Should America Worry?

Military robots sparking a revolution, both on and off the battlefield

With Drone Warfare, America Approaches the Robo-Rubicon

Author Bio: The author of the article, Ng Wei Khang, is a blogger, author and entrepreneur, founder of Apixel IT Support. He loves to write about Technology and news and helps businesses and organizations deliver them to a broad audience.

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