The Ethics Of Unleashing Killer Robots

I'll be backThe UK Ministry of Defense experiences a moment of self-reflection that one can’t imagine happening at, say, the Pentagon. Richard Norton-Taylor and Rob Evans report for the Guardian:

The growing use of unmanned aircraft in combat situations raises huge moral and legal issues, and threatens to make war more likely as armed robots take over from human beings, according to an internal study by the Ministry of Defence.

The report warns of the dangers of an “incremental and involuntary journey towards a Terminator-like reality”, referring to James Cameron’s 1984 movie, in which humans are hunted by robotic killing machines. It says the pace of technological development is accelerating at such a rate that Britain must quickly establish a policy on what will constitute “acceptable machine behaviour”.

“It is essential that before unmanned systems become ubiquitous (if it is not already too late) … we ensure that, by removing some of the horror, or at least keeping it at a distance, we do not risk losing our controlling humanity and make war more likely,” warns the report, titled The UK Approach to Unmanned Aircraft Systems. MoD officials have never before grappled so frankly with the ethics of the use of drones. The report was ordered by Britain’s defence chiefs, and coincides with continuing controversy about drones’ use in Afghanistan, and growing Pakistani anger at CIA drone attacks against suspected insurgents on the Afghan borders.

It states that “the recent extensive use of unmanned aircraft over Pakistan and Yemen may already herald a new era”. Referring to descriptions of “killer drones” in Afghanistan, it notes that “feelings are likely to run high as armed systems acquire more autonomy”.

The insurgents “gain every time a mistake is made”, enabling them to cast themselves “in the role of underdog and the west as a cowardly bully that is unwilling to risk his own troops, but is happy to kill remotely”, the report adds…

[continues in the Guardian]

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  • http://www.zazzle.com/fantoccini* Gort

    Sentient drone swarms should surround all government, military and corporate agencies around the world including the homes of those “leaders” involved, and deliver a simple message of love:

    Live in peace or face obliteration.

    Gort

  • http://www.zazzle.com/fantoccini* Gort

    Sentient drone swarms should surround all government, military and corporate agencies around the world including the homes of those “leaders” involved, and deliver a simple message of love:

    Live in peace or face obliteration.

    Gort

    • GoodDoktorBad

      Thanks for coming to Earth Gort, but we humans can kill ourselves just fine without your help.

      P.S. Love your movies!!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for coming to Earth Gort, but we humans can kill ourselves just fine without your help.

    P.S. Love your movies!!

  • Anonymous

    Ethics? What ethics could you possibly apply to this kind of cowardly warfare? It’s ludicrous!

    To use these mechanical monsters against people doesn’t involve anything resembling “ethics”. Indeed it takes a complete lack of ethics. Is it now “ethical” to have no ethics at all?

  • GoodDoktorBad

    Ethics? What ethics could you possibly apply to this kind of cowardly warfare? It’s ludicrous!

    To use these mechanical monsters against people doesn’t involve anything resembling “ethics”. Indeed it takes a complete lack of ethics. Is it now “ethical” to have no ethics at all?

    • Bud Bundy

      First, ethics are a false dichotomy. There is no such thing.

      Second. Battle is man against man. This is indeed cowardly.

      • Anarchy Pony

        You are right there are no such thing, so I think I’ll kill your family and take your stuff and sell it. 

        Of course ethics are real dip-shit they govern how we interact with one another, if there weren’t then people would just murder you in the theater for talking on your phone instead of asking you to leave, or just shoot you for grabbing the last snickers bar in the vending machine.

        Amateur philosopher is amateur.

  • Bud Bundy

    [REDACTED] has not advanced to such a level yet. Nice try. I’ve seen the people flying these purported [REDACTED] killing machines. I’ve seen [REDACTED] flying them. I was the body guard for a [REDACTED], and thus had access to otherwise [REDACTED] areas. There are people..

    I was an [REDACTED]

    pop pop poster [REDACTED]

  • Bud Bundy

    [REDACTED] has not advanced to such a level yet. Nice try. I’ve seen the people flying these purported [REDACTED] killing machines. I’ve seen [REDACTED] flying them. I was the body guard for a [REDACTED], and thus had access to otherwise [REDACTED] areas. There are people..

    I was an [REDACTED]

    pop pop poster [REDACTED]

  • Bud Bundy

    First, ethics are a false dichotomy. There is no such thing.

    Second. Battle is man against man. This is indeed cowardly.

  • http://twitter.com/MiGaOh Michael G. O’Hair

    The article doesn’t elaborate on the probability that a humanoid robot from the future befriends a young boy targeted by a fake patrolman made of liquid metal and learns to speak Spanish. But seriously, the ethical questions of using machines to kill are no different that using guns, bayonets, sharp pointy sticks, or bombs in war. There is no ethical mystery in making war, even in choking an enemy combatant with your bare hands. Drones are tools, just as a rifle is a tool. A drone, just like a rifle, does not identify friendly or foe by itself. A human and will always be required to pull the trigger… or in the case of drones, press the spacebar on the keyboard.

    • Anarchy Pony

      You are over simplifying it.

  • http://twitter.com/MiGaOh Michael G. O’Hair

    The article doesn’t elaborate on the probability that a humanoid robot from the future befriends a young boy targeted by a fake patrolman made of liquid metal and learns to speak Spanish. But seriously, the ethical questions of using machines to kill are no different that using guns, bayonets, sharp pointy sticks, or bombs in war. There is no ethical mystery in making war, even in choking an enemy combatant with your bare hands. Drones are tools, just as a rifle is a tool. A drone, just like a rifle, does not identify friendly or foe by itself. A human and will always be required to pull the trigger… or in the case of drones, press the spacebar on the keyboard.

  • Synapse

    Angela: Griffin! What the hell is this?
    Peter: Its a robot that I built to save this company money. Now before you say anything; 1: It has no human emotions. And 2: It’s prime directive is never to harm people.
    Peter: Oh, oh God! Its harming people!
    Robot: ANGRY! ANGRY!
    Peter: Oh, God! It’s got human emotions, too!
    Peter: Ahh! It’s using tools! It’s learning, Angela, it’s learning! Run!!

  • Synapse

    Angela: Griffin! What the hell is this?
    Peter: Its a robot that I built to save this company money. Now before you say anything; 1: It has no human emotions. And 2: It’s prime directive is never to harm people.
    Peter: Oh, oh God! Its harming people!
    Robot: ANGRY! ANGRY!
    Peter: Oh, God! It’s got human emotions, too!
    Peter: Ahh! It’s using tools! It’s learning, Angela, it’s learning! Run!!

  • Anarchy Wolf

    You are over simplifying it.

  • Anarchy Wolf

    You are right there are no such thing, so I think I’ll kill your family and take your stuff and sell it. 

    Of course ethics are real dip-shit they govern how we interact with one another, if there weren’t then people would just murder you in the theater for talking on your phone instead of asking you to leave, or just shoot you for grabbing the last snickers bar in the vending machine.

    Amateur philosopher is amateur.