While Western innovators have been busy worrying about and ensuring that ethics are in place when it comes to making robots for warfare, Russia has ignored any such moral base and has developed something destructive.
A new YouTube video has emerged out of Moscow, in which an unmanned, robotic tank can be seen shooting down targets. Fears of its negative usage have prevented American experts from fully delving into this tech warfare niche. But the Russians' lack of ethical obligations has enabled them to steal a march over the rest of their competitors.
Mobile Robotic Complex (MRK) as its called, are small-sized tanks that can be controlled either from a distant location or can be set up to act on its own. Once the targets are identified for it in its automated mode, it takes it upon itself to destroy those targets.
It isn't like the US military is behind in this robotic race because of its calibre. As far as research goes, we used to be light years ahead until the Talon/SWORDS robots experiment backfired tremendously in 2007. Having invested so much in the development of these automated machines, the army dispatched three prototypes to Iraq for use in the battlefield. However, technophobia and the fear of any malfunctions meant that they never got a taste of the battle.
Since then, work on its successor, the Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System (MAARS), has begun, but catching up to Russia will take time, and more importantly, an open willingness to adopt this technology once ready.
The use of autonomous cyborgs for warfare is one of severaltechnologies that the United Nations has told its member countries to stay away from. Russia hasn't paid any heed to those public denouncements, and in the light of these actions, the UN has called another Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons to discuss the matter.
At this point, it will only be a debate. In fact, a full report on the results of the discussion won't be made public until the end of this year. This means any legislation over the matter will take several years at least. Let's hope that during this time Russia and others don't end up making the evil robotic forces that we have fearedin horror movies.