Last week, Big Think uploaded an interview with P.W. Singer, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who has worked in the Pentagon and as a military adviser to Barack Obama's presidential campaign and recently, has authored the book Wired For War, about the impact the age of robotics will have on warfare in the near future. Video games coming to life, that sort of thing.

 

Now, according to today's GlobalPost, a new report supports Singer's thesis on the frightening next stage in military technology: "the imminent arrival of weapons designed to fight on their own.

 

"The 108-page report, prepared for the U.S. Navy's Office of Naval Research, does not predict when independent killing machines might go to war, nor take a firm stand for or against their deployment," according to GlobalPost. "Instead it suggests that advances in artificial intelligence, coupled with the growing use of semi-autonomous robots in battle, make it a question of when, not if, robots will become capable of making life and death decisions."

 

Obviously, this raises some important Terminator-esque ethical dilemmas for humanity. Robots can prevent human casualties, sure. But they also might turn on us. Fortunately, "The technological and moral considerations involved in putting that killing decision on autopilot make up the body of the report," according to GlobalPost's Tom Abate.

 

Ultimately the report is a double-edged robotic sword: "The report entertains the possibility that properly designed robots might be less prone to commit atrocities." However, "in a scholarly way the report reminds us that technology is posed to bring science fiction to life."