Robotic Warfare

January 23, 2015 • Volume 25, Issue 4
Should autonomous military weapons be banned?
By Daniel McGlynn


Atlas, a 6-foot-tall, 330-pound humanoid robot, is designed for search and rescue missions and other emergency situations (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA))
Atlas, a 6-foot-tall, 330-pound humanoid robot, is designed for search and rescue missions and other emergency situations. The government-funded robot was unveiled in 2013 by Boston Dynamics, now owned by Google. The United States, along with many other countries, is also seeking to develop robotic weapons that operate without direct human control. (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA))

More than 40 countries — including the United States, Great Britain, Russia and China — are developing a new generation of robotic weapons that can be programmed to seek out and destroy enemy targets without direct human control. The push for autonomous machines has raised a host of legal and ethical questions and sparked concerns that the Geneva Conventions — international rules of war that date back to the 1860s — may not be adequate to control robotic warfare. Military experts say autonomous weapons could save lives by keeping soldiers out of harm's way and by using pinpoint accuracy to avoid civilian deaths and other collateral damage. But opponents fear the emerging technology might trigger a new arms race and encourage leaders to use force rather than diplomacy. Meanwhile, the U.S. military is developing revolutionary ways to supply and protect soldiers, including Kevlar underwear, invisible camouflage and customizable 3D-printed food.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Artificial Intelligence
Apr. 21, 2023  Artificial Intelligence and Intellectual Property
Nov. 25, 2022  The Future of Artificial Intelligence
Jul. 06, 2018  Algorithms and Artificial Intelligence
Sep. 25, 2015  Robotics and the Economy
Jan. 23, 2015  Robotic Warfare
Apr. 22, 2011  Artificial Intelligence
Nov. 14, 1997  Artificial Intelligence
Aug. 16, 1985  Artificial Intelligence
May 14, 1982  The Robot Revolution
Defense Budget
Defense Technology and Force Planning
Middle East Conflicts
Terrorism and Counterterrorism
World War I
World War II