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Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Look Into the Morality of Military Research Into Automated Robots

The Growing Trend of Robot Weapons

The concept of a robot soldier has long been etched into society with the help of media and science fiction. Indeed, the concept of an automated machine going to the battle field plants the idea that wars would bring less death as a result of having less human soldiers on the field. However, this is a grave misconception and the continued leaning towards the use of automated machines in war could prove to be more disastrous than it is promising.

The mere convenience of being able to program, command and control robots from a relatively safe distance from the actual battle field may be a dream for many field commanders, but the reality will eventually dawn on humanity that we stand to lose more if we let machines fight our own wars.

The Myth of Invulnerability, Why Machines Tempt Us So Much

People love the idea of machines going to war because of the simple fact that if a machine goes, they will not have to. While this may be true for some ground infantry units, there will always be a limit to how far a person would be from the battlefield. Second, one of the limiting factors in a war is the loss of life. When an army is taking too many casualties, it is likely that they will surrender and thus end the war. A battle between robot armies could take years depending on the capabilities of the robots. The amount of destruction they could cause can render an area uninhabitable for long periods of time.

One other problem is that countries will be more likely to engage in war itself. Without fearing the loss of its own countrymen, any country can begin a war, retaliate with violence or even join in an existing war; all because robots are available for use. While we have yet to reach that point that manufacturing a robot costs less than training a human soldier, it will eventually happen. When that time comes, not even financial restraints would prevent a country from becoming a part of a war.

The Bigger Picture with Mechanized Weapons of War

The biggest problem with any automated machine that is armed and dangerous is that there is no way to program it perfectly. Even home computers, which are sold on a consumer basis, suffer from bugs and glitches. There is simply no way to ensure that a robot on the field of battle would not suffer software malfunctions.

If you factor in the obvious tactic of enemy units using viruses and other anti-software attacks (a digital bio-weapon), then a robot might as well shed its armor plating. This current inefficiency is the reason why unmanned weapons are still being remotely controlled. Manual input is also something that can be exploited which is why only a few unmanned weapons and vehicles are deployed for missions.

If this is done too often and in large quantities, then enemies would begin to take measure to not only disrupt the long range control systems, but would also attempt to over ride it for their own needs.

Ruhfus are a leading supplier of Hydraulic Cylinders for the deep hole boring industry. Ruhfus prefer to use Emics for their on-site calibration services.

By Andrew Newell

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