The “Bright Green” Line of Responsibility / In Defense of Smart Machines

Presentation Powerpoint presented May 5, 2013 at the First Annual Conference on Governance of Emerging Technologies: Law, Policy and Ethics (Chandler, Arizona)

In the near future . . . . New York SWAT teams are equipped with “smart” rifles that prevent the shooting of unarmed targets. Hostage shootings by SWAT personnel immediately drop dramatically followed by steady increase in successful outcomes and a minor rebound in hostage shootings by SWAT personnel. Studies reveal that the most successful SWAT personnel have adopted a strategy of “shoot everything that moves and let the gun sort it out” and that it would take a better than ten-fold increase in the error rate of the rifles before this wasn’t the best strategy in terms of outcome. The “smart” rifle has become the arbiter of who lives and who dies.

In Los Angeles, SWAT teams begin to take advantage of “armed telepresence” using modified DARPA disaster-relief robots. Particularly popular/effective are the “pre-targeting” and “aim-correction” functionalities which provide inhuman speed and accuracy to even the rawest recruits. Unfortunately, hostage shootings by LA SWAT personnel rise as the new assisted-human speed outpaces unassisted human judgment. Using the “smart” rifles would solve that problem but effectively take the human entirely out of the loop. The “killer robot” will have arrived. Continue reading