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Q&A: The Robot Wars Have Arrived

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Brookings Institution senior fellow P.W. Singer


Brookings Institution fellow P.W. Singer says in an interview that the military's funding of robotics will have ramifications in areas that people are as yet unaware of. In response to a query about the likely effects that ubiquitous, autonomous robot fighters on both sides will have, Singer predicts that "the future of war is more and more machines, but it's still also insurgencies, terrorism, you name it." He projects a near-term increase in human-robot collaboration, "with the humans calling out plays, making decisions, and the robots carrying them out."

Singer says the ethical implications of robot technologies are not being widely explored, and observes that technologies such as unmanned aerial vehicles are already finding their way into police departments. He describes robot warfare as open source warfare because a massive industrial structure is not necessary to build the technology, and also because the technology is accessible to almost anyone, good or bad.

Singer says the U.S. military is leveraging video game technology to train troops to operate robots on the battlefield, and one of the effects of this initiative is an increasingly dispassionate view of destroying targets by the robot's operators. He says people making policy decisions are largely unaware of technological developments in their perception of robotics as still being in the realm of science fiction.

"This future of war is again a mix of more and more machines being used to fight, but the wars themselves are still about our human realities," Singer says. "They're still driven by our human failings, and the ripple effects are still because of our human politics, our human laws."

From CNet
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