A top military official has warned lawmakers not to equip the military with autonomous weapons that could go rogue.
The US’s second highest-ranking general said he believed humans must always be the ones to pull the trigger when it came to killing people.
General Paul Selva advocated keeping the ‘ethical rules of war’ – even if the US’s enemies didn’t.
In June the Pentagon awarded an $11 million (£8.4 million) contract to build a ‘combined-arms squad’ of human and robotic capabilities.
Responding to questions from Senator Gary Peters at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday Selva warned against ‘unleash[ing] on humanity a set of robots that we don’t know how to control’.
‘I don’t think it’s reasonable for us to put robots in charge of whether or not we take a human life,’ Selva told the committee.
Senator Peters warned America’s enemies would not hesitate in using such technologies, The Hill writes.
‘Our adversaries often do not to consider the same moral and ethical issues that we consider each and every day,’ Peters said.
However, Selva said America should always ‘take our values to war’ and said it was too dangerous to fit military hardware with autonomous weaponry.
‘There will be a raucous debate in the department about whether or not we take humans out of the decision to take lethal action,’ he said.
It ‘doesn’t mean that we don’t have to address the development of those kinds of technologies and potentially find their vulnerabilities and exploit those vulnerabilities,’ he said.
From unmanned trucks and aircraft, to ‘ghost fleets’ of underwater drones, the military has in many ways turned its sights on autonomous technology to improve capabilities.
And, a similar shift can be seen all around the world.
Russia, for example, has also been working on ways to integrate combat robots into battle, including armed sentry drones.
Experts predict robots are the future of warfare – and it may come sooner than many expect.
‘Intelligent robotic weapons – they’re a reality, and they will be much more of a reality by 2030,’ said John Bassett, a former British intelligence officer.
‘At some point around 2025 or thereabouts, the US Army will actually have more combat robots than it will have human soldiers.’
In July 2016, Professor Hawking and Tesla founder Elon Musk led 1,000 robotics experts in an open letter warning that ‘Autonomous weapons will become the Kalashnikovs of tomorrow’.
‘The probable life span of human civilization is much greater if we’re a multi-planet species as opposed to a single-planet species,’ Elon Musk said last year.
‘If we’re a single planet species, then eventually there will be some extinction event,’ he said.
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