While I’m sympathetic to Human Rights Watch’s position, I don’t think they made a convincing enough argument in favor of banning armed autonomous drones. And while I don’t share the same optimism that Evan Ackerman does, or agree that we should necessarily swap humans out for robots in war theaters, as Marcelo Rinesi argued, I don’t think it is a technology that needs to be banned outright or have resources put toward their demise. The last part of Rinesi’s post mirrors my position on the issue the most:
Ultimately, the problem of having a killer drone flying over your head is nothing but the problem of having a killer anything flying over your head. The fact of killing by specifically trained and organized groups of people with the explicit backing of their societies is where has always lied, and should continue to lay, the locus of ethical concern.
That, I believe, is the crux of the discussion. The robots themselves are amoral and they still have human programmers behind the wiring. Instead of wasting time on trying to prevent something that is most certainly going to happen, that time can be well-spent on trying to prevent things that are much more within our control, like skirmishes and wars. Even drafting up a new set of laws punishing those who use these machines in an ill-manner may be more productive, rather than trying to impede development of the drones via international law.
Throughout this entire thread, one voice — the voice of reason in most situations — has been ringing through my head:
“The Stealth Banana – Smart Fruit”