So far, drones that act entirely on their own - and could be termed autonomous combat robots - do not yet exist. Human operators decide whether or not to attack. However, there is great concern that "military pressure will finally lead to the introduction of autonomous systems," says Jürgen Altmann. The physicist and peace researcher at Dortmund Technical University in Germany co-founded the International Committee for Robot Arms Control (ICRAC), an NGO that urges an international debate on combat robots, including clear rules to restrict their use.Considering the record of Germany's Wehrmacht over the recent past, this seems a positive development. Though there is no hint that the authors of this article, nor their interviewees are alert to the irony;
To prevent an arms race, ICRAC and other international NGOs have launched a campaign that demands discouraging the development, production and use of autonomous combat robots: "Stop Killer Robots".
A German Green party politician Agnieszka Brugger even advocates outlawing autonomous weapons systems. "We would be well-advised not to blindly go along with such armament dynamics, but instead to refocus on the risks inherent in the technology," she says. Combat robots cannot discern between enemy combatants and civilians - in a combat operation, they are not able to act according to international law. Agnieszka Brugger and Jürgen Altmann agree: replacing soldiers with machines in combat could also lead to a lowering of military leaders' threshold for violence.As compared to how well soldiers discriminated between combatants and civilians in the period 1939-45?