Wars have evolved throughout history; armies have grown over time; and weapons are more accurate and efficient. Since George W. Bush declared a war on terror, there has been an increase in the use of machines. With riots and civil unrest on the increase, coupled with the ever evolving definition of terror, machines seem to be the perfect alternative when human law enforcement is summoned to maintain order, or seek out terrorist cells. Instead of sending troops into volatile areas, the military sends drones.
Drones or Unmanned Ariel Systems are operated by CIA agents and soldiers miles and sometimes worlds away from the actual conflict. These unmanned weapons are either programmed to operate independently, or are remotely controlled. Hence, camps are divided regarding the legal and ethical issues surrounding the use of drones, especially autonomous drones. The obvious advantage: these weapons remove soldiers from physical danger by eliminating the need for fighter jets. Sounds great! However, autonomous drones fly over targets and the machine decides whether or not to attack, without human input. According to engaget.com, the United States Air Force hopes to have these autonomous drones in full operation by the year 2047. This will create a situation where artificial intelligence will be the main decision maker in terms of execution, making the human element more of a monitoring role, detaching the soldier from the warfare.
Although there will be civilian casualties in any war, the fact that drones offer a high level of detachment might lead to an increase in strikes in highly populated areas, in order to eliminate terrorist activity. Although drones have proven to be accurate in terms of eliminating terrorist militant targets, while reducing ground and aerial troops, we must understand that the war on terror is a perpetual war. Prior to the war on terror, wars were fought and won based on elimination of the opponents troops, and damage to infrastructure. Eventually, someone surrenders and the war is declared over. The rules of conventional warfare do not apply toterrorism.
Terrorism is an ideology; thus, any loss in life is futile in eliminating terror. Ideologies transcend time, take on a life of their own, and inspire a cult following. The core of terrorism is "us against them". Hence, more severe attacks will simply lead to more severe retaliation. Drones offer the opportunity of more severe attacks without consideration of civilian life. Even if an entire country ceased to exist, and suffered tremendously from military attacks, terrorism will still live on. In addition to detachment, drones reinforce dehumanization. Viewing realtime elements of a war on a video screen, reduces individuals as targets to be destroyed. In the case of autonomous drones this aspect magnified to a greater extent, because regardless of the sophistication of artificial intelligence, machines will never feel human emotions.
War is an ugly affair that has existed since the dawn of time and the weapons of warfare will become even more sophisticated. They will offer even more advantages, but at what cost in a never ending battle? While artificial intelligence allow machines to operate more human-like, the increased use of machines, especially in warfare, will no doubt make those engaged more inhuman.
Photo Credit To Global Research
Editor-in-Chief's Note: Ebonie Jones is a freelance contributor with MNI Alive