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Robots in conflict

Most people have seen robot soldiers in sci-fi films, but not everyone realises that to a limited extent they are already here.

There are already human controlled military robots in existence: 

Many of these robots do useful jobs in very dangerous situations, such as checking for and disposing of explosives, mines or other hazards. However, many could be just as useful for fire fighters or the police, such as in roles checking for survivors in burning buildings.
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However, these robots are guided by humans. What might happen if they were built to be self guiding, making their own decisions?

Activity: Read this article by Noel Sharkey, on the potential of autonomous soldier robots

Next: Warfare without risk?

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Avoiding harm:

If military robots are allowed to make their own decisions, they could make mistakes, causing innocent people to get hurt.
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Both action and inaction have consequences:

Without military robots, soldiers would not have the chance to use them to protect their own safety. However, any technology that makes one group of soldiers more effective might mean that their opponents suffer more casualties.
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Control of technology:

In a conflict, new military technology only gives an advantage to one side for as long as the other side doesn’t have it.
But robots can potentially perform many different tasks. Should those now creating military robots restrict others from accessing the technology? What if this same technology could save lives in other countries, through bomb disposal, or finding people in burning buildings?

The IED Detonator bomb disposal robot.

The Big Dog robot can carry heavy loads across any type of terrain. Click the picture to watch a video of the robot in action. Or click here to find out more.