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Are ‘Killer Robots’ The New Threat To Humanity?

Tim Alberino analyses the new robot arms race

By: Sasha Sutton  |@SashaEricaS
 on 10th September 2014 @ 4.36pm
   the celebrated scientists on the pentagon   s most prestigious scientific advisory panel now perceive    mankind 2 0    as the new arms race    © Twitter
“The celebrated scientists on the Pentagon’s most prestigious scientific advisory panel now perceive ‘Mankind 2.0’ as the new arms race”.

Killer robots are usually something you may associate with science fiction movies but cyber soldiers could very much become a reality as Tim Alberino, and other experts, warn of the secret government projects aiming to ‘roboticise’ military armies that have been hidden from mainstream media, instead providing information to the public of more peripheral technological developments.

The semi-autonomous technologies have been strongly developed in the United States, such as the robotic ‘AlphaDog’ developed by DARPA (Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency) in 2012, which the Guardian reported is commanded using a touchscreen device, can walk 20 miles without a break and can carry a load of up to 400lbs. Other nations are also reported to be developing similar technologies also, but the real fear is the planned use of fully autonomous arms, or killer robots, may happen in the future.

But Alberino describes the potential of these new cyber products; also known as Lethal Autonomous Weapons (LAWS) or simply ‘killer robots’ in layman’s terms, which take a big leap beyond the remotely-controlled drones and dog robots we have already seen: “Imagine a soldier that can outrun any animal on the planet; carry hundreds of pounds with ease; see in the dark without night-vision goggles; communicate telepathic with his squadron; go weeks without eating or sleeping; regenerate limbs lost on the battlefield; and completely controlled, mind and body, by military technicians thousands of miles away”.

“Does this sound like science fiction to you? If so, then you’re not living in the real world”.

Because what is apparently happening in the real world right now, and has been happening for many years without the public’s knowledge, is the development of genetically modified and artificially enhanced ‘super humans’ as nations compete in a 21st century arms race. The terrifying technological competition for supremacy is a step up from the nuclear arms race during the Cold War.

Alberino warns that we need to be ready for super soldiers occupying the battlefields. These developments have been made by the Pentagon but the plans have been hidden within the highly-classified ‘black budget’ that “not even the president of the United States has the clearance to access them”.

These ‘morally questionable procedures’ are also outlined in author and radio personality Thomas R. Horns 2013 book ‘Zenith 2016: Did Something Begin In The Year 2012 That Will Reach Its Apex In 2016?’.

“The United States could be forced into large-scale species-altering output, including human enhancement for military purposes” writes Horn.

“This is based on solid military intelligence, which suggests that America’s competitors (and potential enemies) are privately seeking to develop the same in this century and use it to dominate the US if it can”.

Horn and Alberino are not the only ones concerned by this frightening future prospect. New Scientist reported in 2008 that Sheffield University Professor of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotics Noel Sharkey was ‘really scared’ after researching the plans outlined by USA and other nations.

He found that over 4,000 semi-autonomous weapons are already deployed by the US in Iraq; and that even countries such as Canada, South Korea, Israel, Russia and other European nations are working on similar products.

Professor Starkey blasted the moves as ‘based on a mythical view of AI’ and that these military robots could become indiscriminate killers as without human control, unlike the current technologies, the cyber men will have to distinguish combatant targets and know when to ‘pull the trigger’ all by themselves.

And understandably human rights organisations are also shocked by the revelations. Al Jazeera reported in May that the Human Rights Watch (HRW), the organisation behind ‘Campaign to Stop Killer Robots’ last year, and Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic released a statement calling for a ban on potential fully autonomous weapons – ahead of the UN conference to discuss the matter.

HRW Arms Division director Steve Goose said in a press release, “In policing as well as war, human judgement is critically important to any decision to use a lethal weapon”.

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) arms unit chief Kathleen Lawand echoed this, saying, “The central issue is the potential absence of human control over the critical functions of identifying and attacking targets, including human targets”.

“There is a deep sense of discomfort with the idea of allowing machines to make life-and-death decisions on the battlefield with little or no human involvement”.

But The Verge reported that out of the 117 countries that party to the UN Summit in Geneva, only five called for a pre-emptive ban on the weapons – these being the Vatican, Pakistan, Egypt, Ecuador and Cuba; whilst France, Germany, the UK and others stressed the importance of human control when it comes to targeting decisions.

So with the majority vote seemingly in favour of super soldiers being dispatched on future battlegrounds, it seems they could be heading our way. As campaigns against the projects continue to speak out, a statement issued by a group of Nobel Peace Prize laureates Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Amnesty International makes the summarising point about the ‘unconscionable’ research.

“Lethal robots would completely and forever change the face of war and likely spawn a new arms race”.

“Can humanity afford to follow such a path?

tags: Technology  | War

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