Robot Wars

Robot WarsOver the past decade, the US military has shifted the way it fights its wars, deploying more unmanned systems in the battlefield than ever before. Today there are more than 7,000 drones and 12,000 ground robots in use by all branches of the military.

These systems mean less American deaths and also less political risk for the US when it takes acts of lethal force – often outside of official war zones.

But US lethal drone strikes in countries like Pakistan have brought up serious questions about the legal and political implications of using these systems.

Fault Lines looks at how these new weapons of choice are allowing the US to stretch the international laws of war and what it could mean when more and more autonomy is developed for these lethal machines.

Watch the full documentary now

Ratings: 7.47/10 from 17 users.

More great documentaries

23 Comments / User Reviews

  1. megatron_mcdaniels

    alright then a real comment. i think the lady with the silver leaves does not realize that real intelligence requires consciousness imo. And i have not heard a concrete explanation of how it works or even what it is. so if we are just talking about processing power then they will always do what we tell them to do. won't develop emotions or decide that the human race needs to be exterminated for its own good. also this doc needs more dubstep ;)

  2. Tanzanos Eleytheros

    Thanks for the documentary!

  3. Tanzanos Eleytheros

    Define intelligence!

  4. DaveJay

    There may be no accountability for the drone programme but then to whom are terrorists accountable to?!

  5. Teddy Mcd

    "Looks like the future is coming on fast." -(Dylan)

  6. Matt van den Ham

    I can't help be think of the plot/storyline of the movie Terminator watching this documentary. The robots could turn on us.

  7. PaulGloor

    The machines will come about in peace or in war. With advances in software engineering and mapping of the human brain (Human Connectome project) we will eventually figure out AI completely. Through the use of artificial neural networks they have been building robots that can learn, create and solve problems on their own for the most part so I imagine we are well on the way to duplicating the human factor, one can only hope we pass on our capacity for compassion and altruism and dodge the whole Skynet bullet. I personally look forward to this future.

    It is in human nature to push the envelope, to see how far we can take something. The military just happens to be who is footing the bill, they want war machines, and they want results.

  8. soros soria

    The assumption behind these kinds of documentaries, sponsored by Al Jazeera no less, is that robotics are somehow less "humane" than men killing men, guys blowing themselves up to kill civilians, or bombs coming raining from the skies. Al Jazeera seems to have set itself up as arbiter of what is morally acceptable; it's hardly what can be called "objective". Rather, it (being Arab-owned) knows fully well that those it secretly roots for, disaffected Third World states, will never be able to keep up with US technology and, hence, will never be able to triumph over America. US power today is less economic than it is military and the politicoes know it.

  9. KsDevil

    Robots are not people so they can go anywhere and remain immune to international laws.
    We can stop sending troops over seas, same money and gain local political favor because no one has any emotional attachment to a robot.
    The more we become isolated from murder, the easier it is. Ask any psycopath.

  10. Mike

    skynet = terminator, battlestar galactica = ceylons might want to rethink a lil bit more!!!!!

  11. Damian Echevarria

    This is awsome I don't know how they made this but I like it.

  12. DrJack37

    Invest in death and you get it back with interest.

  13. ksm_mmd

    I strongly support development of robots and AI because it has fantastic potential for social good. However, it really bothers me that most of the development work is being funded by the military. What's more, development of autonomous weapon systems is one of the easier robotic problems to solve from a technical perspective. The basic, enabling technologies already exist to build autonomous aircraft and surface ships, and it won't be long until fully autonomous underwater and ground-based systems are possible as well. For that matter, they already are in a limited sense (unmanned sentry weapons, for example).

    Requiring a man-in-the-loop for any mission involving deadly force sounds like a good precaution in principle, but in reality there are simply too many ways for the military to rationalize the circumvention of such self-imposed restrictions. The gradual expansion of weapon system autonomy and the gradual reduction of human involvement seems inevitable. For instance, consider an autonomous aircraft that has been directed to patrol a particular sector on a battlefield and kill anything that moves within that sector. It could be argued that this satisfies the man-in-the-loop requirement because the man defined the aircraft's boundaries of operation and the man authorized the use of deadly force. But in reality, the autonomous aircraft could be operating completely on its own and calling its own shots for hours or even days on end, as long as it stays within its rather broadly defined operational parameters . It seems almost certain that incremental encroachment on the man-in-the-loop requirement will eventually result in autonomous weapon systems that are assigned missions and given the authority for almost complete autonomy. These weapon systems are the special forces troops of tomorrow.

    And of course after this technology has been "proven" by the military, it will be adapted to, and adopted by, law enforcement. I suspect it won't be long until most of us are under the near-constant watch of an autonomous surveillance network.

  14. ksm_mmd

    DefenseNews com published an article on this topic a few days ago entitled:

    The Next Wave in U.S. Robotic War: Drones on Their Own

    Here's a quote from that article:

    "The U.S. military’s current fleet of drones will soon be overtaken by a new wave of robots that will be faster, stealthier and smarter — operating virtually without human intervention, experts say."

  15. N

    Can we murder any more ifeciently ? germany thought so.

  16. Martin Hedin

    "is that robotics are somehow less "humane" than men killing men"

    That is not what they said, they even implied the opposite. It is more an issue about the legal aspect. The problem is that it is possible to kill people without any legal process, as with the target killings. No trial, just murder.

  17. Jackie Debs

    Drones and robots are going to be used to AVOID war. We will have the power to be able to kill individual targets or threats anywhere in the world. This will prevent the need for a full scale war in many cases. It also will prevent the US from having to give deep concessions to other countries to kill our enemies within their boarders.

    The problem, currently, air drone strikes are not able to simply kill individuals. They kill anything within 50 yards or so of the target. This will mean some "civilians" will inevitably be killed. I use the term civilian lightly because it is very hard to view the friends and family of Islamic extremists as innocents. They would cheer if I were to be killed by Al Queda so why should I be up in arms if their death is the only downside to eliminating enemies without losing American soldiers?

    If we allowed the judicial system to oversee the drone strikes. It would effectively end the use of them because there is no way to truly prevent some collateral damage.

    As technology progresses, one day, we will be able to use small ground robots to assassinate individuals. Then we will be able to let the judicial system in

  18. Gerry S

    Your enemies can use the same technology to do exactly the same thing to you

  19. abakusss

    These drone attacks in NW Pakistan and Yemen are happening because those host countries are not acting on Islamic extremists as they should be.

    It also issues the message that the terrorists do not have any safe haven any more.

    This doco talks about the legality of drones when we have extremist Islamic people shooting a teenage girl because she wants rights and respect and an education and when the Taliban are shooting teachers and blowing up schools in Afghanistan.

    I hope there are three drones over both locations when they come back again.

    Bring on the world's challenge to extremist islamic terrorism.

    So many countries are struggling for democracy against extremist islamic groups.

    Amazing that people prepare such pompous crap as in this doco.

  20. disqus_I6QiBSHSh4

    Not the same but worse. Anyone can build themselves a small uav out of off the shelf parts or get a cheap ready made product. How are you going to detect something that isn't even made of metal in the first place and thus is stealth? Not to mention that currently used weapons can't even lock on it. Funny how the US started it all, but its inherent qualities make it most attractive for terrorists. Like you realize that the drones currently in use are equipped with hellfire missiles that cost like a couple of mln$ just to kill some guy in a car who might be the one you want to kill or not. Terrorist pretty much only have to get some c4 from point A to point B - they are already accurate enough to land within 4 meters to where you want it. That's some serious cost disparity that favours the terrorists.

  21. Jon Anderson

    Just like the Atomic Bomb was supposed to "end wars". It didn't end wars, it just changed the nature of them. EVERY technological advance on the battlefield was supposed to end all wars, the tank, the machine gun, battle ships... All of it was supposed to end wars by making them pointless. We have discovered that no matter how many people will die, war still happens. People who think drone technology won't one day be used against us here in the states are smoking some awfully good crack. Other countries are already delving into the use of drones, and it's only a matter of time. They will keep them ultra classified, and you won't hear much about it. Israel is already shooting down drones from Iran. How long until they are armed? What are we going to do when Iranian drones start dropping missiles into Israel?

  22. Jon Anderson

    We can afford it, they can't.

  23. Jedo

    This documentary has two dimensions: there is the documentary dimension, giving a somewhat shallow but nonetheless well-rounded look at the situation with military robotics and then there is the cheap spooky dimension, symbolised by that "futurist" lady.

Leave a comment / review: