The US Army wants us to pretend autonomous tanks aren’t killer robots

The US Army wants us to pretend autonomous tanks aren’t killer robots

There’s been a recent hullabaloo over the US Army developing killer robots, but we’re here to set you straight. The Pentagon’s official stance: it’s all false. There’s no such thing as killer robots; you’re drunk.

The US Army‘s “Advanced Targeting and Lethality Automated System” (ATLAS) project isn’t what you think. I know it sounds bad, but if you ignore every other word it’s actually quite palatable. “Advanced and Automated” sounds pretty good doesn’t it? Those are probably the only words you should focus on.

The US Army just happens to be simultaneously developing“optionally-manned” tanks and soliciting white papers for a fully autonomous targeting system capable of bringing a weapon to bear on both vehicle and individual personnel targets. That’s a coincidence. You’re obviously not thinking straight. Perhaps you’re hormonal.

If you went through the US Army‘s phone right now you wouldn’t find a single nude (and if you do, it’s because someone else used to have the number, and sometimes the Army gets pics from people it doesn’t know). The point is: you can trust the Army.

In fact, when the Army heard that people like Justin Rohrlich from Quartz were calling the ATLAS project a plan to “turn tanks into AI-powered killing machines,” it immediately amended its official request document with the following addition:

All development and use of autonomous and semi-autonomous functions in weapon systems, including manned and unmanned platforms, remain subject to the guidelines in the Department of Defense (DoD) Directive 3000.09, which was updated in 2017. Nothing in this notice should be understood to represent a change in DoD policy towards autonomy in weapon systems. All uses of machine learning and artificial intelligence in this program will be evaluated to ensure that they are consistent with DoD legal and ethical standards.

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