Fighting forces and intelligence services worldwide are equipping themselves with all manner of robots that operate on land and sea, and in the air. The conduct of war is being transformed—and largely, it seems, to the West’s advantage. But knotty ethical quandaries are cropping up as the mechanical guts, electronic sensors and digital brains of robots continue to improve. Some fear that robots, which are ingeniously mobile and can collect and process huge quantities of data, make it too easy to launch attacks. Others worry whether robots can be trusted to make their own decisions while in combat.
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