Should machines have the power over life or death?
Imagine being a soldier in two different scenarios. In the first, you know you won’t be in the line of fire because there’s an intelligent machine will take that place instead. In the second, you ask an intelligent fighter aircraft to take you to a specific point as fast as possible, and it will do. Actually, there is no guarantee to be alive; it may develop a destructive method such as choosing a higher risk flight path, to achieve what you ask without taking any consideration of your life. So we could see that autonomous military machines are in between saving and destroying humanity.
What are they?
Autonomous machines have the ability to sense, imitate cognitive processes and take a decision without human intervention. Currently, militaries use some forms of them for missions like, inspecting zones and spying. But what if it comes to giving a machine the power over human life?
I know! It’s hard to imagine a global autonomous arms race where humans could act under the decision of the machine.However, it’s a developing reality; without any doubt, autonomous machines are on their way to becoming a part of the future of militaries around the world.
With or Against?
There are many arguments for and against having independent thinking war machines that act in a totally autonomous manner. Some argue that developing such machines will lead to a global arms race. They don’t require much to be developed as nuclear weapons, so how we going to stop despotic governments and terrorist groups from using them! On the other hand, there is a number of arguments that supports using autonomous machines. Taking humans out of the fire line is one of them.
The discourse around issues concerning fully autonomous machines is rich and complex. It raises serious moral and ethical challenges. Research confirms the importance of negotiating the development trajectory of such intelligent machines among human-rights activists, researchers, developers, policy-makers, military authorities, journalists and the public. Such a process will generate recommendations that could influence future policies and industry decisions.
I believe that autonomous military machines have many great benefits. Instead of considering a ban on them, which is likely impossible given their advantages, we should act collectively to allow all actors a chance for input regarding these machines’ use. So, it’s up to us to draw our future.