Save Military and Civilian Life: Deploy AI Robots as Soldiers

We have an ethical imperative to deploy artificially intelligent robots on the battlefield, says Jerry Kaplan. They keep soldiers off the battlefield and discriminate between civilian and military life.

Jerry Kaplan: Everybody’s concerned about killer robots. We should ban them. We shouldn’t do any research into them. It may be unethical to do so. There’s a wonderful paper in fact by a professor at the post naval graduate school in Monterrey I believe, B.J. Strawser. I believe the title is the moral requirement to deploy autonomous drones. And his basic point in that is really pretty straightforward. We have obligations to our military forces to protect them and things that we can do which may protect them. A failure to do that is itself an ethical decision which may cause – may be the wrong thing to do if you have technologies.

So let me give you an interesting scale that whole thing down to show you this doesn’t have to be about terminator like robots coming in and shooting at people and things like that. Think about a landmine. Now a landmine has a sensor, a little switch. You step on it and it blows up. There’s a sensor, there’s an action that’s taken as a result of a change in its environment. Now it’s a fairly straightforward matter to take some artificial intelligence technologies right off the shelf today and just put a little camera on that. It’s not expensive, same kind you have in your cell phone. There’s a little bit of processing power that could look at what’s actually happening around that landmine. And you might think well okay, I can see that the person who is nearby me is carrying a gun. I can see that they’re wearing a military uniform so I’m going to blow up. But if you see it’s just some peasant out in a field with a rake or a hoe we can avoid blowing up under the circumstances. Oh, that’s a child. I don’t want to blow up. I’m begin stepped on by an animal. Okay, I’m not going to blow up. Now that is an autonomous military technology of just the sort that there was a recent letter signed by a great many scientists. This falls into that class.

And in the emerging that devices like that be banned. But I give this as an example of the device for which there’s a good argument that if we can’t deploy that technology it’s more humane, it’s more targeted and it’s more ethical to do so. Now that isn’t always the case. My point is not that that’s right and you should just go ahead willy nilly and develop killer robots. My point is this is a much more subtle area which requires considerable more thought and research. And we should let the people who are working on it think through these problems and make sure that they understand the kinds of sensitivities and concerns that we have as a society about the use and deployment of these types of technologies.

 

We have an ethical imperative to deploy artificially intelligent robots on the battlefield, says Jerry Kaplan. They keep soldiers off the battlefield and discriminate between civilian and military life.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Think you’re bad at math? You may suffer from ‘math trauma’

Even some teachers suffer from anxiety about math.

Image credit: Getty Images
Mind & Brain

I teach people how to teach math, and I've been working in this field for 30 years. Across those decades, I've met many people who suffer from varying degrees of math trauma – a form of debilitating mental shutdown when it comes to doing mathematics.

Keep reading Show less

A world map of Virgin Mary apparitions

She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.

Strange Maps
  • For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
  • These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
  • Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
Keep reading Show less

How KGB founder Iron Felix justified terror and mass executions

The legacy of Felix Dzerzhinsky, who led Soviet secret police in the "Red Terror," still confounds Russia.

Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Felix Dzerzhinsky led the Cheka, Soviet Union's first secret police.
  • The Cheka was infamous for executing thousands during the Red Terror of 1918.
  • The Cheka later became the KGB, the spy organization where Russia's President Putin served for years.
Keep reading Show less