Drone Wars

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Science  18 May 2012:
Vol. 336, Issue 6083, pp. 842-843
DOI: 10.1126/science.336.6083.842

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Given the potential to track down bad guys and kill them without risking American lives, it's no wonder the U.S. Department of Defense plans to spend $30.8 billion on developing and acquiring remotely piloted aircraft between 2011 and 2015. Dozens of other countries have or are pursuing drones of their own. Thanks to improvements in artificial intelligence, these machines will become more capable of making decisions, including, perhaps, whether to kill humans. As the technology zooms forward, experts are scrambling to catch up with the psychological, ethical, legal, and policy implications for 21st century conflict.