“The Terminator” is clearly science fiction, but it speaks to a deep intuition that the robotization of warfare is a slippery slope—the endpoint of which can neither be predicted nor fully controlled. Two reports released soon after the November 2012 election have propelled the issue of autonomous killing machines onto the political radar.
“Furthermore, delegating life and death decisions to machines is immoral because machines cannot be held responsible for their actions.”
This hardly seems relevant. As long as these machines lack personhood, their actions are the direct responsibility of the forces that choose to deploy them, as they are but tools, no different in principle except more complex intermediate steps between deployment (with human intent) and completion (result of said human intent). Whether it’s a drone being piloted by some guy in a bunker halfway across the world or by a sophisticated object detection algorithm, the relevant factor is who gets killed as a result.
“So let us establish an international principle that machines should not be making decisions that are harmful to humans.”
If we’re to interpret that as “harmful to any humans”, it won’t work - machines will often need to kill a few bad people in order to save many good people and it would be wrong to ban them from doing so. If it’s to be interpreted as “harmful to people in general”, then it will allow killing of bad people: murderers and warmongers. The military hopefully wants to use machines to kill bad people and to avoid killing good people, and that would be absolutely the right thing to do. What could rightly be banned is any use of machines which set out to kill good people on the bahalf of bad people, but the kind of people who want their machines to do that will not respect laws and will have to be defeated militarily. The only solution to this will be a military fight over control of the planet, though most of the action will actually come in the form of assasinations carried out by people on the instructions of artificial intelligence with no involvement of any robotic capability.
Posted by HowardI on 01/30 at 06:54 PM
Unfortunately, with Islamic extremism threatening to inflame North Africa from Morocco to Egypt and south to Kenya, the disintegration of Syria threatening Lebanon and Jordan, the threat of the explosion throughout the Turkic “Stan’s” of the old Soviet Union, the increasing intensity of competition for water supplies between China and the countries of South Asia, the need for the United States to require increasing leverage for it military power, makes increasingly predictable, in the short and medium term, the development of exceedingly lethal and increasingly autonomous weapons.