AI and weapons
Autonomous weapons can safely be considered the third revolution, this technology is changing the principle of warfare in the same way as gunpowder or nuclear weapons. The evolution from anti-personnel mines to guided missiles was only a prelude to true autonomy with the support of artificial intelligence.
A prime example of autonomous weapons in use today is the Israeli Harpy drone, which is programmed to fly in a specific area, track specific targets, and then destroy them with a fragmentation part. And an even more provocative example is illustrated in the short anti-utopian film Slaughterbots, which tells the story of bird-sized drones that can actively seek out a specific person and shoot at their skull. Such drones are small in size, fly by themselves, and are too nimble to be easily caught, stopped, or destroyed.
Such killer robots are not just fiction. One such drone nearly killed the president of Venezuela in 2018, and now it can be assembled by many skilled amateurs-all the parts can be ordered online, and all the technology can be found there as well.
We have witnessed how rapidly AI has evolved, and these advances will accelerate the near future of autonomous weapons. Killer robots will become smarter, more accurate, faster, and cheaper. Also, new abilities will allow swarms to form with teamwork and redundancy, making their missions virtually invincible. A swarm of 10,000 drones capable of wiping half a city off the ground could theoretically cost as little as $100 million.
Nevertheless, autonomous weapons are not without advantages. They can save soldiers’ lives if wars are fought by machines. And in the hands of a responsible military, such weapons can help soldiers target only the military, avoiding the unintentional killing of friendly forces, children and civilians. Autonomous weapons can also be used to protect against murderers and criminals.
But according to many analysts, the disadvantages far outweigh these advantages. Autonomous weapons reduce the moral burden on the killer. Giving up one’s life for the cause is difficult enough for many, and in the case of autonomous killers, no such sacrifice is required. Well, in addition, AI weapons remove potential liability from the individual, which makes it easier to make decisions about killing.