If there’s one thing that shouldn’t be autonomous in this day and age, it’s weaponized drones. There’s just so much that can go wrong there. Artificial Intelligence works most of the time but it isn’t reliable especially in critical situations like these. An incident that gives weight to this claim happened back in March 2020 when a lethal weaponized drone hunted a human target without any input from a human.
The incident happened when a KARGU-2 quadcopter started targeting a human completely autonomously, during a conflict between Libyan government forces and a military faction led by Khalifa Haftar of the Libyan National Army. The drone targeted one of Haftar’s soldiers while the man tried to retreat. The details of the incident came from a report from the UN Security Council’s Panel of Experts on Libya.
The report said Haftar’s were “hunted down” as they retreated by KARGU-2 drones that were operating in an autonomous mode. The report said that the mode required no human controller and it was highly effective. The Turkish KARGU-2 drone is a deadly weapon designed for asymmetric warfare and anti-terrorist operations. The drone can be directed to detonate on impact.
The report detailed that “The lethal autonomous weapons systems were programmed to attack targets without requiring data connectivity between the operator and the munition: in effect, a true ‘fire, forget and find’ capability”. The report said that this was likely the first time drones have attacked humans without the specific instructions to do so.
Some concerns come to mind when you read about autonomous drones. Like how accurate are they when it comes to target recognition? What if they misinterpret someone? How often would errors occur? I don’t think the benefits of having autonomous weaponized drones outweigh the dangers and risks.
According to Jack Watling of the UK defense think tank, Royal United Services Institute told reporters that “This does not show that autonomous weapons would be impossible to regulate. But it does show that the discussion continues to be urgent and important. The technology isn’t going to wait for us”.