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April 7th, 2015 at 1:00 pm

US academic: Killer robots could be good news

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A renowned US roboticist says that killer robots could actually save lives.  

Robot expert Professor Ron Arkin is to give a public lecture at New Zealand’s Canterbury University on Tuesday. He says using robots in war could save soldiers’ lives and reduce the number of civilian casualties.

Professor Arkin, from the College of Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology, is a central figure in current debates on military applications of robots. Canterbury University’s Human Interface Technology Laboratory organised his visit.

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“We know robots have the ability to significantly reduce civilian casualties in battle,” doctoral student Sean Welsh says. “This can lead to a moral imperative for their use.”

However, if the use of killer robots was not properly thought out it could lead to serious problems in the future, he said.

“Ron’s talk will encourage people to think of ways to approach the issues of restraining lethal autonomous weapons systems from illegal or immoral actions in the context of international humanitarian and human rights law.”

Robots in war could change a soldier’s experience, Mr Welsh said.

“Robots could do better than humans as war fighters because they provide better sensors, such as seeing through walls.

“They have an absence of self-preservation emotions. They have an ability to recompute scenarios in the light of fresh data and most importantly they can have a complete focus on the strictures of military duty and the rule of international humanitarian law.”

Armies are already using robotic technology including drones, which are unmanned planes, Mr Welsh said.

“Most robots are unarmed and used for surveillance, reconnaissance or destruction of mines and other explosive devices. However, in the past years, there has been a dramatic increase in the use of armed robots in combat.”

Image credit:  Dick Thomas Johnson | Flickr
Via The Sydney Morning Herald

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