TED Talk: The kill decision shouldn’t belong to a robot

Technology always brings unforeseen social changes

In Barbados we have zero transparency, zero accountability and the ruling political elites can do pretty well what they want. Author Daniel Suarez’s TED presentation predicts that as autonomous weapons become cheaper and more lethal, smaller governments and developing societies will have an advantage over larger, more developed societies. It seems far fetched to imagine Barbados wielding autonomous weapons and drones – but maybe not. Suarez also talks about private interests using the same weapons. Considering the Columbian and Mexican crime cartels, that’s not such an impossibility either.

The above YouTube video is brought to you by those friendly folks at Samsung. That’s right, the same folks that make your phone also make and deploy automatic killer machine guns for a very reasonable US$200,000 each. Just set ’em and forget ’em…

“This raises the very real possibility of anonymous war. This could tilt the geopolitical balance on its head, make it very difficult for a nation to turn its firepower against an attacker, and that could shift the balance in the 21st century away from defense and toward offense. It could make military action a viable option not just for small nations, but criminal organizations, private enterprise, even powerful individuals. It could create a landscape of rival warlords undermining rule of law and civil society. Now if responsibility and transparency are two of the cornerstones of representative government, autonomous robotic weapons could undermine both.

Now you might be thinking that citizens of high-tech nations would have the advantage in any robotic war, that citizens of those nations would be less vulnerable, particularly against developing nations. But I think the truth is the exact opposite. I think citizens of high-tech societies are more vulnerable to robotic weapons, and the reason can be summed up in one word: data. Data powers high-tech societies. Cell phone geolocation, telecom metadata, social media, email, text, financial transaction data, transportation data, it’s a wealth of real-time data on the movements and social interactions of people. In short, we are more visible to machines than any people in history, and this perfectly suits the targeting needs of autonomous weapons.”

Watch Daniel Suarez’s entire TED Talk here.

Thanks to an old friend for the suggestion.

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