In a world where technology is constantly advancing, a new development has emerged that has the potential to change the face of warfare forever. The militarization of robots.
These machines, built with precision and equipped with deadly weapons, are being deployed on the front lines, risking their own lives to protect ours.
But with this great power comes great responsibility. Ultimately, there is also the potential for deadly consequences. Join me as we discuss the militarization of robots and how they will change warfare.
The weaponization of robots in ww2
Let’s start from the beginning. Surprisingly the use of robots by the military is not a new concept. One of the first known uses of robots in the military was during World War II when the Germans used the remotely controlled Goliath tracked mine.
Essentially, you can view it as a suicide tank. A remote-controlled 820lb vehicle that was strapped with over 60kg of high explosives. Their primary function was to destroy tanks, break up tightly packed infantry formations, and even demolish buildings or bridges.
Although, they were largely deemed a failure due to their slow speed and high costs they would ultimately lay the foundation for what was to come.
Military robots in the 1960s
In the decades that followed, the use of robots in the military continued to evolve and expand. In 1960 the United States launched a highly classified unmanned aerial vehicle program, under the code name of Red Wagon.
This spearheaded the use of surveillance drones in the Vietnam war. In 1962 the Ryan Model 147 was launched which provided both high- and low-altitude photographic and electronic aerial reconnaissance.
Modern day use cases
Now if we fast forward to the present, robots are being used for a wide range of tasks, including search and rescue, bomb disposal, and even armed drones that can engage in combat.
For instance, EOD robots are used to detect, identify, and disarm explosive devices, such as land mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs). These robots can be remotely operated, allowing human operators to stay at a safe distance while performing these tasks.
Robots are also being used in the military for logistics purposes. These robots can be used to transport supplies and equipment, as well as to load and unload ships and aircraft.
This can help to reduce the workload for human soldiers and improve the efficiency of military operations. At the end of the day, robots can operate under extreme conditions and for an extended period of time without rest or food.
The ethical concerns of weaponizing robots
However, the use of robots in the military also raises several ethical and social concerns. One concern is that if robots are used as autonomous weapons systems it raises questions on accountability if something goes wrong.
Will they adhere to international humanitarian law, as they may not be able to distinguish between combatants and civilians in the same way that human soldiers can?
Unfortunately, this reality was shown in 2020 when the UN Security Council noted that the robot known as the Kargu 2 attacked human targets. The first case of a fully autonomous robot attacking human beings. Certainly scary to think about.
Not to mention, the militarization of robots also has the potential to change the nature of warfare itself. With robots on the front lines, wars could be fought at a distance, with human soldiers safely tucked away in control rooms, directing the actions of their robotic counterparts.
This could make it easier for countries to engage in conflicts, as the human cost would be less visible and less immediate. We have all heard about drone warfare and its deadly consequences.
The United States alone has created unprecedented collateral damage due to robots. Overall, an estimated 158–965 civilians have been killed in Pakistan due to drone strikes in the past two decades.
At the end of the day, our future with robots is uncertain. Will they be a force for good, used to protect and defend us, or will they become a threat to our very existence?
The answer is up to us. It is up to our leaders, our scientists, and our society as a whole to decide the path that we will take. The militarization of robots is a challenge that we must face together, and the outcome is in our hands.
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I hope you found this article useful and thanks for reading it. If you want to learn about the difference between A.I and Robotics please click here to read my previous article.