Thursday, February 7, 2013
How Far Is Too Far In Automated Weaponry?
This article reports on the issue of technological advances involved in warfare; how it develops and how we fight. Seemingly flying under the radar, the advancement towards these totally autonomous weapons that will apparently be making life or death decisions independent of any human input is a frightening but not farfetched reality. Although there are certainly many positive consequences of these advances, including the avoidance of loss of life in military personnel on the side of the attacking nation, the potential negative consequences are too significant too ignore. The idea of remote and automated weaponry and equipment is not a new one; advances in technology inevitably have led to a decreased dependence on mandatory human infantry and presence in many different situations. But, the leap to fully autonomous drones, weaponry, or equipment is one that must be seriously considered from all angles. One of the most significant arguing points against autonomous weapons is the consciousness and potential for reason and guided decision making from the point of a human. This is not only a significant point but I think the pivotal and most important one. Because humans have a mind and a conscience that can weigh not only tactical situations but situations that are immersed in questions of human rights, I think that is a point that cannot be compromised. If drones are able to make battlefield decisions having the ultimate impact on civilians, people groups, and potentially innocent humans, I don't think we can comfortably pass this decision and judgment onto a machine designed with only mission success in "mind". In addition, it would be easier to pass blame or responsibility for any potential atrocities on humanity. Much like many of the human rights agreements today, because there is no real personal accountability in this realm, there will be an unclear boundary between what is right and wrong, and when a wrong occurs, who will be held accountable. This unclear boundary will most certainly be stretched to its limit, as virtually any boundary is, and the consequences of this should be heavily thought upon by all parties involved in progressing this technology to a worldwide reality. Although I certainly am in support of eliminating the potential for loss of human life in using remote weaponry technology, I believe that we must weigh the gravity of this situation and its potential effect on humanity and human rights.