Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Rules of Engagement for Armed Robots

"Let the machines target other machines. Let men target Men." So say
we all. Or at least so says John S. Canning of the Naval Surface Warfare
Center in his recently proposed Concept
of Operations (CONOPS) for Autonomous Use of Weapons (PDF format).
The miltary is becoming aware of the problems with autonomous robots
under the Law of Armed Combat. How do robots
fit into existing guidelines such as the Rules of Engagement and
Discriminate Use of Force? Who or what can be
destroyed by an autonomous robot and under what conditions? Will the
robot be able
to distinguish a war ship from a cruise ship? Will it be able to
distinguish between an armed, determined enemy and a mob of angry but
unarmed people? Canning's proposed rule is that only humans be allowed
to target other humans, while autonomous machines are allowed to target only
enemy machines. In other words, machines may "target the bow or the
arrow but not the archer". A DefenseTech
blog notes that the catch to the whole thing is that when the robot
targets the enemy machine, say a tank, and destroys it, the humans
inside are killed as well. The real benefit to the miltary of Canning's
legal theory
is that humans become "collateral damage" and not "targets" of
the robot, presumably lessening the red tape involved in using such weapons.

Source: http://www.netchain.com

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