Show 6 – First broadcast 20/06/2008
Armed Military Robots (part 1 of 2)
Presented by Professor Noel Sharkey, University of Sheffield
This week is part 1 of a two part special on Robots of War. Noel explains the ethical issues of using military robots that are allowed to apply lethal force on their own terms. These are not terminator style robots. they are more like tanks, trucks or fighter jets. There are over 4000 robots currently deployed on the ground in Iraq. These are mainly for explosive disposal although some are armed. There are also many robot fighter planes such as the Predators and the Reapers. For now there is always a person in the loop to decide when to kill, but this is could change soon. Find out how this ties in with the Laws of War and the international laws on discrimination.
Over the next two weeks Noel interviews experts in this field – Professor Ron Arkin, director of the mobile robotics lag at Georgia Institute of Technology, Dr Peter Asaro, philosopher of technology at Rutgers University in New York, Matt Armstrong, an independent defence analyst in California, Rear Admiral Chris Parry who worked for the UK MoD and Richard Moyes, policy director of Landmine action. Noel also attends the International Military Robotics conference in London and talks to military robotics people from Nato, the German and Swedish Armies as well as the French equivalent of our MoD.
Get involved in the discussion at the AUVSI forum on Armed Unmanned Systems
Noel talks to Ron Arkin, Regents’ Professor, College of Computing, Georgia Tech about some of the dangers facing us in the near-future with robots that decide who to kill. Professor Arkin tells us about his work on developing an Artificial Conscience for a robot and about some of the difficult ethical decisions that both soldiers and robots have to make in war.
Noel talks to the exciting young philosopher Dr Peter Asaro from Rutgers University in New York. Peter talks about a range of issues concerning the dangers of using autonomous robot weapons. He cautions us about the sci-fi future that the military seems to be heading towards and how a robot army could take over a city. Interestingly he makes the provocative claim that one of the first uses of insurgency was the early Americans against the British redcoats.
Noel talks to Matt Armstrong an independent analyst specialising in public diplomacy and strategic communications working in California. Matt writes a famous blog called MountainRunner. On the programme he discusses the “hearts and minds” issues, a term he dislikes and the problems with having a robot as the “strategic corporal” of the future.
Part two of the International Military Robotics special next week will continue with interviews with Rear Admiral Chris Parry, Richard Moyes from Landmine action and military robotics people from Nato, the German and Swedish Armies as well as the French equivalent of our MoD.