Advancements is autonomous weapon systems have been on a lot of people’s minds lately (Thank you, Call of Duty: Black Ops II). From armed Predator drones to the Navy’s new X-47B unmanned stealth fighter (pictured right), military robots with a license to kill are rapidly moving from the realm of science fiction to science fact. While the U.S. military hasn’t quite the technology to go all Skynet on the world yet, forward thinking military minds are already making sure that who lives and dies isn’t going to be decided strictly by the numbers.
On November 21st, Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter signed a directive which makes it clear that it is the policy of the Department of Defense that “Autonomous and semi-autonomous weapon systems shall be designed to allow commanders and operators to exercise appropriate levels of human judgment over the use of force.” Not only will this policy keep the killing in the hands of creatures with a conscience, but will lessen the risk from cyber attacks on autonomous vehicles that could lead to a loss of control. You think it’s bad a virus can lock down your hard drive? Imagine if it hijacked your stealth fighter!
You can read the full Department of Defense directive on autonomy in weapon system for yourself over at Crytome.org.