The history of battle knows no bounds, with weapons of destruction evolving from prehistoric clubs, axes, and spears to bombs, drones, missiles, landmines, and systems used in biological and nuclear warfare. More recently, lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS) powered by artificial intelligence (AI) have begun to surface, raising ethical issues about the use of AI and causing disagreement on whether such weapons should be banned in line with international humanitarian laws under the Geneva Convention. Much of the disagreement around LAWS is based on where the line should be drawn between weapons with limited human control and autonomous weapons, and differences of opinion on whether more or less people will lose their lives as a result of the implementation of LAWS. There are also contrary views on whether autonomous weapons are already in play on the battlefield. Ronald Arkin, Regents' Professor and Director of the Mobile Robot Laboratory in the College of Computing at Georgia Institute of Technology, says limited autonomy is already present in weapon systems such as the U.S. Navy's Phalanx Close-In Weapons System, which is designed to identify and fire at incoming missiles or threatening aircraft, and Israel's Harpy system, a fire-and-forget weapon designed to detect, attack, and destroy radar emitters.
NAIROBI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Countries are rapidly developing "killer robots" - machines with artificial intelligence (AI) that independently kill - but are moving at a snail's pace on agreeing global rules over their use in future wars, warn technology and human rights experts. From drones and missiles to tanks and submarines, semi-autonomous weapons systems have been used for decades to eliminate targets in modern day warfare - but they all have human supervision. Nations such as the United States, Russia and Israel are now investing in developing lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS) which can identify, target, and kill a person all on their own - but to date there are no international laws governing their use. "Some kind of human control is necessary ... Only humans can make context-specific judgements of distinction, proportionality and precautions in combat," said Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
Chinese military contractors have already started to sell dangerous, autonomous killer robots to customers in the Middle East. For instance, a Chinese company called Ziyan is actively marketing its Blowfish A3 -- an autonomous helicopter-like drone armed with a machine gun -- to international buyers, according to Defense One. While several countries have been working towards this tech for years, this news means we're finally, and unfortunately, living in the era of killer robots. While Ziyan works to sell its autonomous killbots to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, the Chinese government is already entrenched in the killer robot trade. "As we speak, the Chinese government is already exporting some of its most advanced military aerial drones to the Middle East, as it prepares to export its next-generation stealth UAVs when those come online," said Defense Secretary Mark Esper, per Defense One.
Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Friday (Sept. AI development "raises colossal opportunities and threats that are difficult to predict now," Putin said in a lecture to students, warning that "it would be strongly undesirable if someone wins a monopolist position." Future wars will be fought by autonomous drones, Putin suggested, and "when one party's drones are destroyed by drones of another, it will have no other choice but to surrender." U.N. urged to address lethal autonomous weapons AI experts worldwide are also concerned. On August 20, 116 founders of robotics and artificial intelligence companies from 26 countries, including Elon Musk and Google DeepMind's Mustafa Suleyman, signed an open letter asking the United Nations to "urgently address the challenge of lethal autonomous weapons (often called'killer robots') and ban their use internationally."
It is a terrifying vision of the future of battle. Called RoBattle, this heavy duty combat and support robot is strapped with a'robotic kit' consisting of vehicle control, navigation, RT mapping and autonomy, sensors and mission payloads. In addition to ambushing and attacking on command, this combat ready platform, developed by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), can raise its body four feet in the air to tackle obstacles or crouch down 23 inches to hide from enemies. It may be focused on the sky, but Israel Aerospace Industries has stepped down on land to develop the newest member of its unmanned ground robotic systems family. RoBattle is a combat and support robot equipped with a'robotic kit' of vehicle control, navigation, RT mapping and autonomy, sensors and mission payloads RoBattle, is an semi-autonomous combat and support robot designed to assist ground soldiers in the field.