Discussion

Below are a series of discussion questions that may prove useful for a book club or classroom setting.
(Hint: Evil professors might even use these for essay assignments!)

  • Why do you think unmanned systems have been used in greater numbers in places like Iraq and Afghanistan? Do you see this trend continuing?
  • What can we learn from the history of robotics? What lessons do they provide us, if any for the future?
  • What roles in fighting wars should be handled by robots and what should be kept in human hands? Why? Do you think this will actually happen?
  • What will the robotics industry look like 20 years from now?
  • What does the rise of robotics say about the future of war?
  • Will the robotics trend help or hurt America’s standing in the world? How so?
  • Will the robotics trend make wars easier or harder to start? Why?
  • What do you think will be the key legal issues to resolve in the robotics field?
  • Will the robotics trend make war crimes more or less likely? Why or why not?
  • Do you believe in the idea of the Singularity? If so, when will it happen? If not, why not?
  • Imagine you have a friend who is a top engineering student. If they were offered financial support by the military to work on robotics, what advice would you give them?
  • How do you see the robotics trend affecting soldiers’ identity?
  • What academic theories appear to be bolstered by the rise and use of robotics in war? Are there any that are now questioned?
  • Is the sci-fi mainstay of a robots’ revolt something you believe might happen one day? Why or why not?
  • You have been asked by the UN to develop a framework for international law on the issue of robotics in war. Should armed autonomous robots be banned or not? If so, who would enforce it? If not, what sort of controls and consequences should be included in the law?
  • Who should be allowed to operate armed robots? Who should not? How should this be enforced?
  • What would a robot’s code of ethics look like?
  • What would a roboticist’s code of ethics look like?
  • What will be the main causes of war in the 21st century? That is, what might spark the future wars that robots fight in?
  • Is it right or wrong to “care” for a robot?
  • Are human beings “wired for war?”