Military Robotics

Can Military Robots be More Ethical than Human Soldiers?

Posted 26 Nov 2008 at 17:55 UTC (updated 29 Nov 2008 at 16:18 UTC) by steve Share This

Several readers sent us links to the NY Times story, "A Soldier, Taking Orders From Its Ethical Judgment Center". The article discusses the ongoing ethical debate about autonomous military robots that will make their own decisions about life or death on the battlefield. Ronald Arkin of Georgia Tech says that while he doesn't believe autonomous robots can be perfectly ethical, "my research hypothesis is that intelligent robots can behave more ethically in the battlefield than humans currently can." This may not be as hard as it sounds. A 2006 survey found that less than half of the soldiers serving in Iraq said that, "noncombatants should be treated with dignity and respect, and 17 percent said all civilians should be treated as insurgents." For more details, see the 2006 survey on the troops mental health (PDF format) and Ronald Arkin paper, "Governing Lethal Behavior: Embedding Ethics in a Hybrid Deliberative/Reactive Robot Architecture" (PDF format). Also see our many previous articles on ethical concerns about war robots.

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