Drones could soon operate without the help of humans.
Agence France-Presse is reporting that the Pentagon wants its drones to be more autonomous, so that they can run with little to no assistance from people.
“Before they were blind, deaf and dumb,” Mark Maybury, chief scientist for the U.S. Air Force, told AFP. “Now we’re beginning to make them to see, hear and sense.”
Ronald Arkin, a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, believes that drones will soon be able to kill enemies on their own independently.
“It is not my belief that an unmanned system will be able to be perfectly ethical in the battlefield, but I am convinced that they can perform more ethically than human soldiers are capable of,” Arkin told AFP.
Arkin added that robotic weapons should be designed as “ethical” warriors and that these type of robots could wage war in a more “humane” way.
The U.S. military says people will be on the ground to control the drones despite the unmanned robots gaining more independence.
Peter W. Singer, a senior fellow in Foreign Policy at The Brookings Institution, believes there could be legal hurdles in regards to using robot-controlled drones.
“These responses that are driven by science, politics and battlefield necessity get you into areas where the lawyers just aren’t ready for it yet,” Singer told AFP.
Earlier this year, Singer wrote an op-ed piece for The New York Times about the use of drones. In the piece, entitled “Do Drones Undermine Democracy?” he says the use of drones is “short-circuiting the decision-making process.”
“Without any actual political debate, we have set an enormous precedent, blurring the civilian and military roles in war and circumventing the Constitution’s mandate for authorizing it,” Singer wrote. “Freeing the executive branch to act as it chooses may be appealing to some now, but many future scenarios will be less clear-cut. And each political party will very likely have a different view, depending on who is in the White House.”
AFP reports that new military drones will most likely be implemented with more powerful jet engines and have longer range in combat.
There are currently more than 7,000 drones being used in combat.