Heritage Foundation expert James Carafano explains that autonomous military technology, commonly referred to as drones, has¬†“the potential to increase U.S. effectiveness on the battlefield, while decreasing damage and loss of human life.”

While there has been controversy on this topic, Carafano tells us where the focus of the discussion should be:

Understanding the capabilities and limits of autonomous technology dispels fears of Terminator-like robots taking over the world and refocuses the discussion on the opportunities that these systems present, and the responsibility of lawmakers to set clear guidelines for their development.

He lists three steps Congress should take to enable drones and other autonomous military technologies to save lives:

  1. Insist that military developments be based on suitable, feasible, and morally acceptable mission requirements and realistic appreciation of the levels of technology available.
  2. Fund research and development of autonomous technology.
  3. Review the legislative framework for addressing the current and potential problems of autonomous technology.

Read his report here and tell us: How do you feel about autonomous military technology?

Comments (3)

Joseph Corrao - August 8, 2014

In the context of aviation technology and operations, “autonomous” means self-guided; it does not mean or imply remote piloting. Remote piloting can save American lives in wartime; autonomous operation is not necessary to do so. The phrase “autonomous military technology” implies self-guided weaponry rather than remotely operated weaponry. Is this really what you mean? If so, I fear, Mr. Caravano, that your position is seriously misguided and dangerous.

Richard Hanson - August 9, 2014

There is no substitute for trained human judgement.

Jim Halloran - August 9, 2014

The only possible drawback to military drone use is “operator malfunction.” This can be avoided by intensive training and strict rules of engagement. Just because we’re saving aircrew lives shouldn’t lead to casual attitudes about attacking “targets” 6,000 miles away.

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