Killer Robots and the Moral Threshold

By Mark Antony Rossi 

A United Nations Commission has convened and is actively exploring the negative consequences of advanced warfare. The major thrust of this international scientific meeting revolves around the introduction of killer robots onto the modern day battlefield. The killer robots are anthropomorphic (something possessing human attributes) outfitted with artificial intelligence and armed with laser guided weaponry posing dangers unheard and unseen in recorded human history. Note the following quandaries:

1. Traditional human warfare is finite due the limitations of trained (or untrained) available manpower — this military stratagem is turned upside when fighting an enemy continually manufactured in the tens of thousands.

2. Battlefield factors such as weather, climate, disease, ratio of wounded, and sustenance are nullified for machines immune to dehydration, dysentery and despair.

3. How deep is our self-hatred that we further cheapen human life by hurling mechanical monsters against flesh and blood? This perverted path is beyond dehumanization and drastically develops into homo-sapien holocaust.

A scientist has coined the phrase “moral threshold” to describe the predicament robotic soldiers promise to human existence. But I am skeptical of such proclamations since scientists are often in the same ilk of politicians and privately believe morality and pragmatism are inherently incompatible. I agree with the moral threshold statement but for entirely different reasons. Morality is a major component of humanity and its degradation is the slippery slope to mechanical certitude. Future machine global dominance is only possible if we willingly surrender the flexibility of flesh for the superficial strength of steel.

Machines are not the only culprit in the digital conspiracy to evoke life and liberty. Humans create intelligent machinery and ultimately choose how this new power is deployed in the world. We can feed the hungry. But choose war. We can reach the stars. But choose to decimate our planet. These choices are all too human and newborn machines are but pawns in a hideous game no computer could ever calculate.

About the Author: Mark Antony Rossi is a poet, playwright and author of the bioethics volume “Dark Tech” now available from Amazon. His most recent plays have been produced in Liverpool and New York.


  1. thanks for this dreadful info
    it seems man is more a monster than a blood pulsating ethical human being

  2. sometimes, but I reserve hope that it’s not too late. Thanks for stopping by and would like to hear from you again.