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Nick Carter proposes Robot Soldiers

Themanwho

LE
Book Reviewer
My choice of a scenario of robots fighting over France was a little tongue in cheek, but I think it is pertinent. WW1 Generals treated soldiers as an expendable commodity with little or no regard to the human cost. Today we value life far too much to contemplate such slaughter. Not what if we substituted robots for soldiers?
Do "we?" Given the right impetus, mass slaughter is eminently possible in the 21st century IMHO.
 

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
Doesn’t this encapsulate the whole ethical and philosophical debate about robots and automation? The landmine convention to which @bob_the_bomb referred was written long before anyone really thought through the ethics of artificial intelligence.

My choice of a scenario of robots fighting over France was a little tongue in cheek, but I think it is pertinent. WW1 Generals treated soldiers as an expendable commodity with little or no regard to the human cost. Today we value life far too much to contemplate such slaughter. Not what if we substituted robots for soldiers?
Then it just becomes a TV programme (although I understand that there's already something called Robot Wars).

Having toys have a dance-off isn't war. Subjugation is war. Killing is war.
 
Then it just becomes a TV programme (although I understand that there's already something called Robot Wars).

Having toys have a dance-off isn't war. Subjugation is war. Killing is war.
I’m not sure; maybe we’re approaching a point at which warfare (or at least inter-state peer conflict) can he conducted without mass kinetic action? We’ve reached a point where economies can be shut down by deep cyber attacks.

I’m flying a bit of kite here; it’s not a philosophical debate that I have really thought through for myself.
 

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
I’m not sure; maybe we’re approaching a point at which warfare (or at least inter-state peer conflict) can he conducted without mass kinetic action? We’ve reached a point where economies can be shut down by deep cyber attacks.

I’m flying a bit of kite here; it’s not a philosophical debate that I have really thought through for myself.
It's certainly a discussion. Unfortunately, for every person that wants a 'rules-based' war there's an Islamist fundamentalist or a North Korean despot.

A generation or two back we'd just wipe such people out - and with good reason. Now, we seem more concerned with moral high ground while people get murdered.
 
Did either side run out of artillery or shells in WW1? No
The British came pretty close in 1915
 

Niamac

GCM
We had a perfectly good war-fighting automatic device but it was banned because it was indiscriminate and therefore bad.












It was called a AP land mine.

None of this fantasy is ever going to be put in the hands of British troops.
 
Did either side run out of artillery or shells in WW1? No, they harnessed their entire economy to make more weapons. Why not the same for robots?


Came very close to it several times.

To be fair, production was rapidly ramped up to cope but there was a period when expenditure was greater than supply

Other point being that a combat robot will be a lot more expensive and complex to produce than artillery shells.

When the robots are consumed to you concede defeat or chuck men in to the gaps?
 
The robots will be bought, then stored in some base depot, cared for by civilian staff, and on 6 months' readiness. Once demanded by units it will be discovered that vital batteries don't comply with airfreight regulations/ EU recycling directives/toxic content/are no longer manufactured.
Field units may see one occassionally, usually in bits in the workshop, but a new trade/ specialist skill of robot operator will eat funds in arduous selection criteria, instructors who never touched the things before yesterday, and several committees of VSOs to design a new trade badge, to be supplied in various colours complete with regimental facing colours, camouflage, parade dress and mess dress varieties.
After approximately 4 years ( or one change of government) the robots will be quietly binned and sold off at a loss.
 
We had a perfectly good war-fighting automatic device but it was banned because it was indiscriminate and therefore bad.












It was called a AP land mine.

None of this fantasy is ever going to be put in the hands of British troops.
AP mines were banned because they were entirely indiscriminate. They maim combatants and non-combatants alike, do not distinguish between friend or for and continue to maim long after the conflict ended. A robot would presumably have a high level of artificial intelligence.

I think Carter is right to fly this kite; mankind is probably within 20 years of being able to field a autonomous fighting machine. There are a lot of ethical issues around this that need to be thought out.
 

Niamac

GCM
AP mines were banned because they were entirely indiscriminate. They maim combatants and non-combatants alike, do not distinguish between friend or for and continue to maim long after the conflict ended. A robot would presumably have a high level of artificial intelligence.
Yes, that's true but they can be made to de-activate after a specific period. War is not an intelligent activity and "collateral damage" has, sadly, always been acceptable in a real fight,eg. Dresden, Hiroshima etc
 

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
Yes, that's true but they can be made to de-activate after a specific period. War is not an intelligent activity and "collateral damage" has, sadly, always been acceptable in a real fight,eg. Dresden, Hiroshima etc
Neither of those were collateral damage. They were deliberate attacks on the civilian population during all-out war.
 
Yes, that's true but they can be made to de-activate after a specific period. War is not an intelligent activity and "collateral damage" has, sadly, always been acceptable in a real fight,eg. Dresden, Hiroshima etc
I think are rapidly moving from conventional war being the ultimate extension of foreign policy in a Clausewitzian sense. The cyber domain will become ever more important.

@jagman2 asked the question; what happens when we run out of robots; do we chuck men in to the gaps? Is that any different from asking what happens when we run out of soldiers? Do we conscript civilians as we did in both WWs? Because to me it’s almost inconceivable that there would be public support for conscription now.

And what if the enemy develops robots that overmatch our conventional forces? Do we keep throwing humans in to a fight with machines?
 

theoriginalphantom

MIA
Book Reviewer
Assuming these robots become a reality, where will they be made and assembled? I'm thinking there may be a tad cause for concern from the human soldiers if these robots come with Made In China stamped into their metal arrse.


 

lecky

War Hero
It'll never be allowed

How can all the Human Rights Lawyers earn a living once the shootings finished?
They can't try and prosecute a Robot
 
Perhaps the issue here is that we see battlefield robots as some sort of android; a mechanical soldier. Is that what Carter is referring to, or is he referring to autonomous weapon platforms?
 
Modern robotics features a high level of artificial intelligence, quick to process information and highly efficient operation of tasks, none of this would be suitable to replace the Royal Green Jackets.
 

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