Science fiction sometimes depicts robot soldiers as killing machines without conscience or remorse. But at least one robotics expert today says that someday machines may make the best and most humane decisions on the battlefield.
Guided by virtual emotions, robots could not only make better decisions about their own actions but also act as ethical advisers to human soldiers or even as observers who report back on the battlefield conduct of humans and whether they followed international law.
As militaries around the world invest billions in robotic weapons, no fundamental barriers lie ahead to building machines that "can outperform human soldiers in the battlefield from an ethical perspective," says Ronald Arkin, associate dean at the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. The result would be a reduction in casualties both for soldiers and civilians, he says.