Robots and the future of war: P.W. Singer

Posted by Ian on May 16, 2009 in blog | No Comments

In an absolutely arresting talk at TED in February 2009, P. W. Singer has broadened our awareness of the frightening speed at which we are removing human arms from armed conflict. Exploring drone planes, robotic sentries and enhanced human battle technology, Singer fears the ethical and moral implications of warfare that is no longer counter balanced by lived human experience of conflict. The military-industrial complex has brought us towards tipping point where it is not longer humans who fight, but robots who fight for us.

Recalling the call for ethics in robotics from Isaac Asimov, these current trends in military robotics are already creating disillusionment. From US military personnel in New Mexico flying drones and dropping bombs remotely who experience higher PTSD levels than foot soldiers in Iraq to other countries anger that the US army will not fight them as men, the technological acceleration of the removal of humans from war does present us with serious ethical issues which perhaps we need to take time to consider. Unfortunately, the current pace of production supported by the Pentagon may mean that there simply isn’t time…
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