Robotic Military Vehicles
Robots for No Man's Land

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On the one hand, it makes sense to remove people from the battlefield and replace them with robots carrying machine guns and launching bombs. A battlefield is a deadly and disgusting place -- a place where millions of lives have been lost in the most atrocious ways.

On the other hand, one purpose of war is to murder human beings. Do we want intelligent machines in charge of mass murder?

If machines are given the right to murder humans, here is one scenario. Imagine that an intelligent, autonomous robotic soldier circa 2040 costs $50,000. In 2040, the U.S. invests $200 billion in robotic soldiers (about one half of today's defense budget). $200 billion would buy about 4 million troops. In 2041 the U.S. does the same thing, and buys 4 million more. In 10 years, the U.S. would own 40 million of these robotic soldiers. That is more soldiers than the entire planet has today. They would be supported by robotic ships, robotic aircraft, robotic vehicles, etc.

This entire robotic military force would be commanded by a handful of people -- the Commander in Chief, the Secretary of Defense and a small collection of generals and admirals. That is identical to today's military command structure. The key difference is that a robotic army, unlike a human army, can easily be programmed to have no conscience.

Let's take an extreme example of where this lack of conscience could lead. It would likely be impossible for the President today to decide to use the army to kill all 35 million of the citizens in the state of California. We would like to believe that at some level in a human army, the human soldiers would rebel against the command. A robotic army would have no such reaction, and would simply carry out the order.

On the other hand, let's imagine that we do program robotic soldiers with a conscience. The robots would end up ignoring many commands as unconscionable. In other words, robots with a conscience would not make very good soldiers.

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