The French Defence Ministry has released a report that supports autonomous killing machines on the battlefield.
While most of us have seen enough sci-fi to consider killer robots a bad idea, the French Defence Ministry thinks that it is a future worth investing in. The French Defence Ethics Committee made a case for the use of autonomous weapons after controversy arose from the military’s use of Boston Dynamics’ Spot robot.
The robot was deployed in a street fighting training exercise at Saint-Cyr military college, but Boston Dynamics has said that it doesn’t want its autonomous machines to be used to hurt people.
Vice President of Boston Dynamics Michael Perry told The Verge:
We do not want any customer using the robot to harm people. This forward deployment model… is something that we need to better understand to determine whether it is actively being used to harm people.
Despite Perry’s comments, autonomous weaponry is being invested in across the world. The Times has noted that the likes of the US and UK have refused to drop the development of autonomous weaponry in response to Russia and China’s continued investment in the technology.
The decision to pursue the technology has been made despite protests from 30 countries and aid groups, which are concerned about the morality of their use.
Fortunately, France’s support of autonomous systems shouldn’t lead to a situation reminiscent of the Terminator movies. In fact, the committee involved called for a ban on independent systems that are ‘programmed to be able to change their rules of operation’ and could be used by terrorists.
The committee concluded that the country could use partly ‘autonomous’ systems to identify, engage and inform on targets. Furthermore, there would always be human operators involved who could stop the device in a dangerous situation.
The report claims that autonomous weaponry would be essential in the fight against future weaponry, which is expected to be faster. It seems that the country is committed to advancing warfare technology, and France was also behind the £6.8 billion European Union fund to increase research in military technology.
France isn’t alone in its endeavours, but it does not mean there aren’t global concerns about the effectiveness of people controlling machines in battle situations and what these kinds of advances will lead to.
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