The possibility of autonomous or "robot weapons" has caused tremendous debate not only nationally, but worldwide. No longer is the possibility of using such weapons a fictional idea seen in movies like The Terminator or Ironman. Many major powers such as the United States, China, South Korea, and the United Kingdom are on the path to making this technology a reality. Despite some benefits that may come of this advancement in technology, the countless possible risks outweigh the good.
Technology has come a long way but it is never perfect. Although electronics such as cars, phones, televisions are incredibly useful, they malfunction all the time and are unreliable. The danger of relying too much on technology and the damage that comes of it has been demonstrated by the Tesla brand. Tesla's Model S has a self-driving option that failed to carry out its crash-avoidance Autopilot system. Although the brand told investigators that it was merely a "technical failure," and nothing to do with the Autopilot system, it ultimately failed to do what it was programmed to do. In the event that a robot weapon malfunctions, it may be too late to impede it, causing absolute chaos. Robots lack judgment and may not be able to distinguish between the enemy and a regular civilian. By the time it can process that the opponent is an unarmed civilian, it may be too late. Robots may be effective when told exactly what to do. However, if an unexpected situation arises, they have a high chance of malfunctioning. Thus, the idea of placing the balance of peace in the hands of an artificially intelligent robot would not be wise.
When power is placed in the hands of artificial intelligence, there is a lack of accountability. If the weapon glitches, people will place the blame on the technology itself instead of those who organized it or produced it. According to the Human Rights Watch, the people responsible for creating the robot weapon would not be held accountable in the event of an accident. Unless controlled and managed by humans, robots can pose a great threat.
The manufacturing of robot weapons can increase tensions among the world's superpowers. Just like the race to build the first atomic bomb during WWII brought about an arms race, the production of robot weapons will follow a similar path. If the United States starts to build robot weapons, China will follow, then South Korea, and so on. Countries will be able to mass produce these weapons due to the rather low cost of the materials needed for its production. As nations build up their arms, there will be an increase in the people's perception of threat and can also instill unnecessary fear.
Others who are advocates for robot weapons argue that the replacement of soldiers with robots can save a significant number of lives. However, this will cause nations to be impetuous and decide to go to war easier without having to think about the need for soldiers. Scientists, engineers, and researchers pursuing the creation of robot weapons are taking technology too far in a way that will ultimately become a threat to all nations.
Technology can be unpredictable. Despite programming, it can have a mind of its own. Giving a robot weapon the responsibility to control itself can lead to serious consequences. Matters regarding life or death should not be placed in the hands of a machine but rather a human being that has a sense of judgment and compassion.