When artificial intelligence and robotics come together, there are two different outcomes that can occur. On the one hand, we see major improvements being brought to our society, making life better for everyone. On the other hand, the military uses these tools to create new weapons of mass destructions. Below is a list of commonly used lethal autonomous weapons everyone should be genuinely afraid of.

4. Radar-guided Guns

Although this technology has been deployed by the military since the 1970, significant changes and upgrades have been made ever since. The first iteration of radar-guided guns allowed the military to defend ships. More modern versions of this system allow for the “software” to manually identify and attack oncoming missiles.

Additionally, the latest generation of radar-guided guns can eliminate rockets, artillery fire, aircraft, and surface vessels alike. Albeit all of the parameters have to be defined by a human operator first, improvements in AI and deep learning may make the human element unnecessary in a few years from now. Weapons who think for themselves is something that will change our society forever, albeit not necessarily in a good way.

3. Homing Missiles

Perhaps one of the oldest “tricks in the book” of military weaponry is the homing missile. These weapons have been around since the 1960s and they are quite “dumb” in an odd way. Humans point the missile at the target and launch it, making it rather dependent on a person. However, homing missiles are capable of following identified targets in an autonomous manner. Giving these missiles more autonomy needs to be avoided at all costs until these missiles become far less easy to fool.

2. Stationary Sentry Guns

Everyone has seen or heard of sentry guns before, as they are one of the most commonly used weapons when it comes to defending a base or point of strategic value. These weapons can take out humans and vehicles alike. Recent upgrades introduced a – limited – autonomous targeting system that makes it easier and faster to lock on to possible targets. South Korea and Israel are – allegedly – experimenting with AI-based systems as we speak, although it remains unclear if their tests have been successful so far.

1. BAE Systems Taranis Combat Drone

Drones have always piqued the interest of the military ever since these devices were first announced. The BAE Systems Taranis is perhaps the culmination of advancements made in robotics and AI combined, as it is the foundation for an autonomous offensive air system. Being able to search, identify, and locate enemies will be of great value to any military force, assuming everything works as expected.

Current iterations of autonomous combat drones are somewhat limited in what they can do. Every single device can only engage with a target once authorized by the mission commander. However, they can defend themselves against attacks autonomously. It is only a matter of time until these drones are capable of making their own choices in any combat situation. Once that happens, the world will quickly become a much scarier place than it is right now.

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