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War Robots Can Switch Sides

Photo credit: EPA/Iran’s Revolutionary Guard

In 2011, Iran captured a highly secretive RQ-170 Sentinel stealth drone from the United States military, intact. That last word is necessary because it means the drone was not shot down. Iran claims it forced the drone to land after spoofing its GPS signal and making it think it was in friendly territory. Some US experts claim this is not true, but then, the drone wasn’t shot down. So what happened?

For all we know, Iran could be telling the truth. Drones, GPS, and robots are all based on computers, and as we all know, computers do get hacked. War robots would be no different if they ever make it to the battlefield. In fact, there is every possibility that the enemy army would make attempts to hack them and use them against the same army fielding them.

Autonomous killer robots are not yet in widespread use, so we have never seen any hacked. However, imagine an army of robots suddenly switching allegiance on the battlefield and turning against their own masters. Or imagine North Korea hacking those SGR-A1 sentry guns at the DMZ and using them against South Korean soldiers.

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