Warfare future: The Pentagon's ‘Terminator Conundrum': robots that could kill on their own - NYT

12:13 Oct. 27, 2016

The Pentagon's ‘Terminator Conundrum': robots that could kill on their own - NYT

An unmanned U.S. Predator drone flies over Kandahar Air Field, southern Afghanistan. January 31, 2010 (AP Photo)

The United States has put artificial intelligence at the center of its defense strategy, with weapons that can identify targets and make decisions

The small drone, with its six whirring rotors, swept past the replica of a Middle Eastern village and closed in on a mosque-like structure, its camera scanning for targets.

No humans were remotely piloting the drone, which was nothing more than a machine that could be bought on Amazon. But armed with advanced artificial intelligence software, it had been transformed into a robot that could find and identify the half-dozen men carrying replicas of AK-47s around the village and pretending to be insurgents.

Read more Unveiling of the Ukrainian Army's top notch ‘Pelican' mobile radar system (photos)

As the drone descended slightly, a purple rectangle flickered on a video feed that was being relayed to engineers monitoring the test. The drone had locked onto a man obscured in the shadows, a display of hunting prowess that offered an eerie preview of how the Pentagon plans to transform warfare.

Read more Ukraine presents light grenade launcher for special forces in Donbas

Almost unnoticed outside defense circles, the Pentagon has put artificial intelligence at the center of its strategy to maintain the United States' position as the world's dominant military power. It is spending billions of dollars to develop what it calls autonomous and semiautonomous weapons and to build an arsenal stocked with the kind of weaponry that until now has existed only in Hollywood movies and science fiction, raising alarm among scientists and activists concerned by the implications of a robot arms race.

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