Putting “ethical governors” on killer robots

Drone warfare makes some people squirm for the ethical issues it raises, but right now drones are still controlled by human beings.  The upcoming technology, though, would make them autonomous, allowing them to make their own “decisions” about whether or not to kill.  To meet the moral objections in giving machines the option to kill human beings, some techies are proposing tacking on separate software they are calling  “ethical governors” that could automatically run the decisions through international law protocols before going lethal.

What do you think about this?  Can there be “artificial morality'” just as there is “artificial intelligence”?  (After the jump, a defense of killer robots that goes into these issues.) [Read more…]

Civilian airliner shot down over Ukraine

A Malaysia Airline Boeing 777 was shot down over the Ukraine, killing 298 passengers and crew.  Most were Dutch and Australian.  As many as 23 may have been Americans.  [UPDATE:  Only one American has been identified.] The plane was reportedly brought down by a Russian anti-aircraft missile, and pro-Russian separatists are being blamed. [Read more…]

Israel invades Gaza

With Hamas refusing a ceasefire after its rocket attacks on Israel were met by air attacks, Israeli ground forces have launched an invasion of Gaza. [Read more…]

“Up to now, I’ve given nothing for what I have taken”

Peter Wehner shares a letter written by his wife’s uncle, Frank Keaton, shortly before landing on Omaha Beach.  It makes very good reading for Independence Day. [Read more…]

Never-ending war

Drones that can zap our enemies from above like Zeus throwing down thunderbolts would seem like a great anti-terrorism technology.   But we probably won’t like them as much when other countries–and terrorists–use them to assassinate people on our soil.

But whatever you think of drone warfare, I was struck by a news story reporting on a bipartisan commission studying the issue in which one consequence is said to be a state of “never-ending war.” [Read more…]

The new Caliphate and an Islamic Messiah

Having conquered much of Syria and Iraq, the terrorist army known as ISIS has proclaimed the restoration of the Islamic caliphate.  The group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is the new Caliph, to whom, as the successor of the Prophet Muhammad, all Muslims must submit.   ISIS [Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] has changed its name to the Islamic State, which will eventually include all Muslim lands.

This Messianic proclamation will undoubtedly inspire jihadist terrorists, but it is also a declaration of war against all other Islamic nations, who, presumably, must be conquered and brought into the “Islamic State.” [Read more…]