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The Impact of AI on Warfare.

It is well known that throughout history man’s favourite past time has been to

make war. It has always been recognised that the opponent with the better

weapons usually came out victorious. Nowadays, there is an increasing dependency,

by the more developed nations, on what are called smart weapons and on the

development of these weapons. The social impact of AI on warfare is something

which needs to be considered very carefully for it raises many ethical and moral

issues and arguments. The use of smart weapons raises many questions on the

price paid to develop these weapons; money which could be used to solve most of

the world’s social problems such as poverty, hunger, etc. Another issue is the

safety involved in the use of these weapons. Can we really make a weapon that

does everything on its own without human help and are these weapons a threat to

civilians? The main goal of this essay is to discuss whether it is justifiable

to use AI in warfare and to what extent.

The old time dream of making war bloodless by science is finally becoming a

reality. The strongest man will not win, but the one with the best machines will.

Modernising the weapons used in war has been an issue since the beginning.

Nowadays, the military has spent billions of dollars perfecting stealth

technology to allow planes to slip past enemy lines undetected. The technology

involved in a complicated system such as these fighter planes is immense. The

older planes are packed with high tech gear such as micro processors, laser

guiding devices, electromagnetic jammers and infrared sensors. With newer planes,

the airforce is experimenting with a virtual reality helmet that projects a

cartoon like image of the battlefield for the pilot, with flashing symbols for

enemy planes. What is more, if a pilot passes out for various reasons such as

the “G” force from a tight turn, then a computer system can automatically take

over while the pilot is disabled. A recent example of the use of Al in warfare

is the Gulf War. In operation Desert Storm, many weapons such as ’smart’ Bombs

were used. These were highly complex systems which used superior guidance

capabilities but they did not contain any expert systems or neural networks.

The development of weapons which use highly complex systems has drastically

reduced the number of human casualties in wartime. The bloodshed is minimised

because of the accuracy of the computer systems used. This has been an advantage

that has brought a lot of praise to the development of such sophisticated (not

to mention expensive) weapons. More and more taxpayer’s money is invested into

research and development of weapons that may never be used. This is because the

weapons are mostly for deterrent uses only and no country really wants to use

them because of the power which they hold. The problem with using sophisticated

computer systems in warfare is that the technology being used may fall into the

wrong hands. But who is to say what are the wrong hands? Most people tend to

think that if the technology is on their side, then it can not be misused. This

has been proven to be false when in the Gulf War a whole battalion of British

armoured vehicles were accidentally annihilated by an allied American stealth

fighter which contained complex computer systems which were thought to be


The major problem with the use of highly sophisticated weapons is the cost of

development. The best solution to this problem has been found to be the fitting

of old B52’s with modern technology which is almost as good and gets the job

done, all at a minute fraction of the price. The other problem arising from the

issue is the control over the development and employment of such weapons. The

solution to this problem would be an international control over development and

use of weapons by independent organisations such as the United Nations. Also,

associations can be formed in order to group all scientists who are involved in

the development of the weapons in order to keep track of them. The use of the

extremely high tech weapons should be reserved for cases where it is absolutely

necessary. Although governments are eager to try out equipment on which they

have spent millions and sometimes billions of taxpayer’s money, the use of Al is

showing proof that it is serving its ultimate purpose: to slowly move men

farther and farther from the killing fields.

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