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Killer Robots?

SMU News

Military drones and autonomous weapons focus of experts’ talk at SMU March 3

DALLAS (SMU) – Lethal autonomous weapons systems, a.k.a. “killer robots,” were once the stuff of sci-fi thrillers. But technological advancements in unmanned weaponry (like drones) have created some very real strategic, legal and ethical dilemmas for policymakers and military/government leaders.

To sort out those issues, three internationally respected armed conflict experts will assemble for “Killer Robots,” a free public discussion sponsored by the John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies on Thursday, March 3, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at McCord Auditorium, third floor of Dallas Hall, 3225 University Blvd. Advance reservations are requested by emailing

“Some say it’s unethical to put lethal force in the hands of autonomous systems, because no computer algorithm should be able to make decisions about killing,” says event moderator Joshua Rovner, SMU Tower Center Distinguished Chair of International Politics and National Security and author of the award-winning book, Fixing the Facts: National Security and the Politics of Intelligence (Cornell University Press, 2011).

“On the other hand, robots can be programmed to be very careful about where and when to fire, resulting in fewer innocent civilians caught in the crossfire,” he adds. “Robots also are free of the nastier human emotions ­– rage, hatred, the desire for revenge – that lead to atrocities.” READ MORE