“Future versions of these systems will be armed with non-lethal weapons that could shut down the engines of the targeted boat, and even lethal weapons that could be remotely operated by humans from afar,” says military analyst Peter Singer. “Israel, for instance, has a version that’s armed with a machine gun.”
[ … ] military officials are looking hard at the possibility of developing robotic systems that are capable of acting on their own if remote control is cut off and decisions must be made on when to deploy a weapon—whether it’s an armed drone dropping a bomb or launching a missile or a ground robot firing weapons. “These are hard questions, and a lot of people outside of us tech guys are thinking about it, talking about it, engaging in what we can and can’t do,” she said. “That’s important. We need to understand and know that it doesn’t necessarily need to happen, but we also have to put the options on the table because we are the worst-case scenario guys.”
A new report written by a former Pentagon official who helped establish United States policy on autonomous weapons argues that such weapons could be uncontrollable in real-world environments where they are subject to design failure as well as hacking, spoofing and manipulation by adversaries.