February 02, 2018

Debating Slaughterbots and the Future of Autonomous Weapons

By Paul Scharre

Stuart Russell, Anthony Aguirre, Ariel Conn, and Max Tegmark recently wrotea response to my critique of their “Slaughterbots” video on autonomous weapons. I am grateful for their thoughtful article. I think this kind of dialogue can be incredibly helpful in illuminating points of disagreement on various issues, and I welcome the exchange. I think it is particularly important to have a cross-disciplinary dialogue on autonomous weapons that includes roboticists, AI scientists, engineers, ethicists, lawyers, human rights advocates, military professionals, political scientists, and other perspectives because this issue touches so many disciplines.

I appreciate their thorough, point-by-point reply. My intent in this response is not to argue with them, but rather to illuminate for readers points of disagreement. I think it is important and meaningful that different people who look at the same technology and agree on what is technologically feasible will still have major disagreements about how that technology is likely to play out. These disagreements have as much to do with sociology, politics, and how human institutions react to technology as they do science and engineering.

Read the full op-ed in IEEE Spectrum.

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