Who is Responsible for Military Robots’ Lethal Actions? Essay

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I) Introduction Robotic technology has enabled the US military to use autonomous robots (or unmanned systems, UMS) in modern warfare. In the war with Iraq, the US military sent 12000 ground robots at the end of 2008 (P. W. Singer). One of the most popular robots used in Iraq is the iRobot Packbot, an unmanned ground vehicle, which is capable of detecting and destroying improvised explosive devices. Exploiting robots in warfare can save lives of many human soldiers. Moreover, robots are faster, have longer endurance, high precision and immunity to chemical and biological weapons (Ronald Arkin).In the National Defense Act of 2001 the U.S. Congress, obviously impressed by the potential of robots saving lives on the battlefield, established…show more content…
In a report, the unmanned air force Predators killed “115 targets” by themselves in the first year they were used (P. W. Singer). This raises one of the most debated ethical questions about autonomous robot war crime. Who is responsible for military robots’ lethal actions? II) Definition In this paper, I refer to robots as autonomous robots. Then what is autonomous robot? According to Major Mike Guetlein, he defines autonomous weapons [robots] as robots are capable of “accomplishing a mission with limited or no human intervention.” These robots can operate by themselves and make decisions based on their interactions with environments. This raises one of the most debated ethical questions about autonomous robot war crime. Who is responsible for military robots’ lethal actions? For example, who is responsible for the Predators if they kill civilians or massacre enemies? III) Responsibility of each party There are three parties that can be hold responsible for robots’ war crimes. They are programmers, commanding officers and the robots themselves. Let us examine if any of these parties is the one that takes responsibilities for robots’ war crimes. A) Programmers’ responsibilities First, according to Robert Sparrow in “Building a better WarBot”, the designers or programmers are obviously responsible for robot’s lethal actions because they are the producers. Essentially, this point of view treats robots as products. If we have enough

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