The idea of robots on the battlefield is nothing new, but the reality of them being more widely used is becoming more real each day. Robots have been used for years to assist with counter-IED efforts. The South Korean military alone has 7,000 reconnaissance and bomb detection robots. However, they are not capable of making life and death decisions.

The Pentagon has announced an initiative that it is researching and developing “killer robots” that are capable of killing without the aid of a human controlling it. How they can discern between friend and foe? No details on how that will be accomplished have been provided by the Pentagon, but they assure us they are making a concerted effort in that regard. Whatever that means.

A practical concern is this – What percentage of these robots is intended to replace humans? And what percentage is intended to support them? Robots have already been proven to be effective in supporting soldiers in combat by reducing human exposure to threats, but are the robots ever going to be capable of making the quick, life-or death decisions that humans have to make?

As the military personnel count is being reduced in size, is it possible that they are planning for an increase in artificial intelligence use? While it is not likely, that decision will ultimately be decide by people who will be thousands of miles away from the hot-zone if things go terribly wrong.