Monday, March 27, 2023

Swiss researchers warn of killer robots

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The Lanius (Latin for “butcher”) is a kamikaze drone with artificial intelligence.

Marguerite Meyer and Ariane Luthi

You see a shattered city. Soldiers are looking for enemy fighters. There’s a bang, someone shouts: “We’ll be hit. Send Lanius!” Eight small drones rise. They approach the enemy soldiers and kill them one by one.

These are not scenes from a war film, but from a new commercial for the Israeli arms manufacturer Elbit Systems. The Lanius (Latin for “butcher”) is an artificial intelligence (AI) kamikaze drone. It can navigate independently, even find its way through narrow building openings and recognize human targets.

Killing machine at your fingertips

The soldier only has to press a button and the drone becomes a killing machine: It fires at a target or lunges at it and explodes – the seamless dovetailing of human combat decisions, drone technology and AI. And maybe the man or woman at the control desk is no longer needed. Today, the weapon is still set in such a way that a flesh-and-blood human being has to trigger the deadly action – and is responsible for it – but sooner or later this intermediate step can be programmed away.

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