News article by Paul Scharre. Published in IEEE Spectrum.
Killer drones in the hands of terrorists massacring innocents. Robotic weapons of mass destruction breeding chaos and fear. A video created by advocates of a ban on autonomous weapons would have you believe this dystopian future is right around the corner if we don’t act now. The short video, called “Slaughterbots,” was released last month coinciding with United Nations meetings on autonomous weapons. The UN meetings ended inconclusively, but the video is getting traction. It’s gotten over 2 million views and has sparked dozens of news stories. As a piece of propaganda, it works great. As a substantive argument for a ban on autonomous weapons, the video fails miserably.
Obviously, a world in which terrorists can unleash swarms of killer drones on innocent civilians would be terrible, but is the future the video depicts realistic? The movie’s slick production quality helps to gloss over its leaps of logic. It immerses the viewer in a dystopian nightmare, but let’s be clear: It’s very much science fiction. [ . . . ]