Dawn of the Machines

The Iraq Occupation will be the first time armed robots have been employed in a military endeavor. Three SWORDS ("special weapons observation remote reconnaissance direct action system") robots have deployed, armed with M249 machine guns. The SWORDS are modified versions of bomb-disposal robots being used throughout Iraq. A three-part arming process is required before firing for safety purposes, and are fitted with "kill switches," which shut down the robots in case of unexpected (!) behavior. As initially reported in National Defense magazine, only three of the robots are currently being used in Iraq.


(1) Reduction in casualties. Considering the political consequences of losing humans in battle, robots will become an increasingly good option for politicians.

(2) You don't have to pay robots. And if you don't give them artificial intelligence, they shouldn't be able to strive for independence (see Downside:1).

(3) Robots look cool.

(4) Robots might replace Americans as the object of jihadist hatred.


(1) Robots yearn for independence. See the Matrix, Terminator, Robocop. Combined with artificial intelligence, armed robots would be very dangerous to the survival of humankind.

(2) Robot proxy wars are more palatable than real wars. World leaders will battle each other "Battletech" style, robot arms races will escalate, and destruction will ensue.

(3) The power of "robot controllers" will threaten the world's political stability. The military commanders that control the robots could yield a lot of power against the population and political establishment. There would have to be some sort of robot-checks-and-balances system to prevent robot-fueled juntas from taking over governments.

(4) Robot USO shows. OK, this is probably an upside.