Talking at a US Army demonstration of autonomous weaponized robots at Fort Benning, Georgia, experts said that "ten years from now, there will probably be one soldier for every 10 robots. Each soldier could have one or five robots flanking him, looking for enemies, scanning for land mines."
Those are the words of Scott Hartley, co-founder of 5D Robotics, who demonstrated his companies' machines along with Northrop Grumman, QinetiQ, HDT Robotics and other robotics corporations catering to the US military. Harley also added that "robots can save lives." And indeed they can, helping soldiers survive in a hostile environment and making their lives easier. But, obviously, they are also making them to kill.
According to the organizers, the main core of the event were the live fire demonstrations:
The Armed UGV Live Fire Demonstration will provide selected technologies an opportunity to demonstrate their ability to remotely fire a M240 accurately at stationary targets. These are highly anticipated demonstrations which will draw significant interest from Soldiers and within the U.S. Army Research communities.
The systems that participated in the demo were both autonomous and remote controlled. The robots had to demonstrate their ability to accurately fire the M240 machine gun (pictured below) at targets 800 meters away.
We are not anywhere near having Terminators with artificial intelligence now. The initial implementations are mostly human-dependent, but we are certainly going in that direction. Talking to ComputerWorld, Lt. Col. Willie Smith—chief of Unmanned Ground Vehicles at Fort Benning—said that "robots allow [soldiers] to be more lethal and engaged in their surroundings. I think there's more work to be done but I'm expecting we'll get there."
It's true that military robots—both weaponized or support units—will protect soldiers. But they will also make war even more horrible by taking away the human life loss component. If we can send platoons made of robots to war, people will not fear death in wars. There will be no dead bodies getting home in flag-covered coffins. Like aerial drones, this will inevitably trivialize wars.
I'm all for robotic research, but this is certainly a field I'm not enthusiastic about.