Over 100 CEOs of artificial intelligence and robotics firms recently signed an open letter warning that their work could be repurposed to build lethal autonomous weapons — “killer robots.” They argued that to build such weapons would be to open a “Pandora’s Box.” This could forever alter war.
Over 30 countries have or are developing armed drones, and with each successive generation, drones have more autonomy. Automation has long been used in weapons to help identify targets and maneuver missiles. But to date, humans have remained in control of deciding whether to use lethal force.
Militaries have only used automated engagements in limited settings to defend against high-speed rockets and missiles. Advances in autonomous technology could change that. The same intelligence that allows self-driving cars to avoid pedestrians could allow future weapons that hunt and attack targets on their own.