27/04/2022

Intelligent Weapon Systems: the race to new war technologies has already started

AI and the war of the future

The use of Artificial Intelligence is bound to revolutionize the way wars are fought, with an impact comparable to that of the introduction of gunpowder or nuclear power in other times.
Leading the way in the development of intelligent weapon systems for the wars of the future are the US, Russia and China. The focus is on kamikaze drones, which are designed to fly autonomously until they locate a pre-set target, then launch themselves at the target and explode. The Switchblades of the US Army, the Russian KUBs, the Tb2 Bayraktar drones are aircrafts equipped with explosive warheads, capable - notwithstanding the technical differences - of identifying and following a target: they are basically intelligent stray bullets.
At the same time, robots dedicated to ground reconnaissance or fire support are being perfected, such as the Russian Army’s Uran-Ucgv remote-controlled crawlers, manufactured for the initial purpose of clearing large portions of land of landmines and anti-tank mines. Countries that support the application of AI in warfare see enormous benefits in smart weapons.
Technically, autonomous weapons (or LAWs - Lethal Autonomous Weapons) are weapons that can autonomously identify the target and decide to engage it without the supervision of an operator, unlike intelligent systems that intervene before the decision to fire to identify the threat or after to ensure greater effectiveness and accuracy. In addition to their military advantage, smart and autonomous weapons ensure accuracy, are more selective, reduce “collateral damage” and involve fewer humans. Scientists and civil society groups, on the other hand, raise the need for urgent restrictions on the development of autonomous weapon systems in particular.
The question is an ethical one: who can be held responsible for the actions of a robot? The military command? The software programmers? The politicians who approved the war effort?
Does delegating the decisions over the life and death of a human being to a machine irrevocably cross a moral boundary? Finally, what are the ultimate consequences of the use of autonomous weapons on the freedom and security of humankind?
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