How Close are We to Developing Weaponized AI?

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weaponized AI

Reading about AI waging a war against humans sounds a lot like the plot of a science fiction movie. But recent events will tell you robot soldiers may be closer to reality than we think.

In an open letter from the Future of Life Institute, they describe the inevitable development of weaponized AI to come in a matter of years, instead of decades.

The letter warns us that in the near future, “armed quadcopters” would be able to shoot and kill targets based on pre-configured targets.

To see how close we actually are to having AI operated weapons, let’s look at what we have got so far.

A US army general believes that human soldiers would find robots in their squads even before we reach half of the century.

General Robert Cone, in-charge of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine, said that by 2030 or 2040, the military may already have weaponized robots in the army.

As of now, we already have robots that could wield machine guns and grenades, but they are still remote controlled by humans.

Qinetiq’s Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System (MAARS) is a good example of that. It could do both surveillance and offensive action, being able to use cameras, medium sized machine guns or grenade launchers. Although it hasn’t been adopted by the military yet,  its potential to increase firepower provides a good incentive for the army.

Here’s a clip of MAARS in action:

But there were already some real life military applications. In Iraq and Afghanistan, for example, the army used bomb squad robots to eliminate IEDS.

Even an Irani general plans inculcating remote controlled robot within their army.

At best, current technology allows us to use remote controlled robots in combat. But it is only a matter of time until these machines wouldn’t need humans to move them. In fact, groups such as the Defense Advance Research Project Agency (DARPA) have invested millions of dollars to utilize robots for military efforts.

Countries want the least human cost in warfare. This is why the impact of arms grows stronger from machine guns to nuclear missiles, the human casualty decreases, at least in the part for the attacking country. The next step in this trend is to use intelligent robots as their new arms race.

As amazing as a robotic army sounds, it’s frightening to imagine it in the wrong hands. We can still reap the benefits of AI in industries such as healthcare and education, but it’s best to keep it off limits from any military use.


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