Why Drone Autonomy Might Actually Be Good for Human Rights

Over at Foreign Policy, I have a piece suggesting autonomous drones might actually be good for us.

Yet many experts are uncertain whether autonomous attack weapons are necessarily a bad thing, either. “Can we program drones well? I’m not sure if we can trust the software or not,” Samuel Liles, a Purdue professor specializing in transnational cyberthreats and cyberforensics, wrote in an email. “We trust software with less rigor to fly airliners all the time.”

The judgment and morality of individual humans certainly isn’t perfect. Human decision-making is responsible for some of the worst atrocities of recent conflicts. Just on the American side, massacres — like when Marines killed 24 unarmed civilians in Haditha or Marine special forces shot 19 unarmed civilians in the back in Jalalabad — speak to the fragility of human judgment about using force. Despite decades of effort to make soldiers less likely to commit atrocities, it still happens with alarming regularity.

Yet, machines are not given the same leeway: Rights groups want either perfect performance from machines or a total ban on them.

Read the whole thing at Foreign Policy.

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