Ethics of Killer Robots

24 05 2009

Would you deploy a new military robot, armed to the teeth and more operationally capable than any human soldier, if it was programmed with a detailed set of ethical rules? This is the intriguing question asked by Russell Blackford over at the IEET.

ed 209These rules would encourage the robot to act within current international laws of war, and enable it to complete its objectives with a minimum of collateral damage and loss of civilian life. In fact, by all measurable accounts, it performs better than human soldiers:

The T-1001 is more effective than human soldiers when it comes to traditional combat responsibilities. It does more damage to legitimate military targets, but causes less innocent suffering/loss of life. Because of its superior pattern-recognition abilities, its immunity to psychological stress, and its perfect “understanding” of the terms of engagement required of it, the T-1001 is better than human in its conformity to the rules of war.

Sounds pretty appealing; a device of any nature that can end wars with a minimum of damage and loss of life sounds pretty appealing. But what if something went wrong?

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