One-quarter of the U.K. army will be robots, according to a statement from a British general during an interview with Sky News.
One-quarter of UK Army may be robots in 2030, says UK General
Nearly every major military in the world is relying more on drones and robotic vehicles now than ever before — but the U.K. could be looking furthest into the future, the Guardian reports. Head of the U.K. armed forces General Sir Nick Carter told Sky News he believed one-quarter of the national army might be robots before or during the 2030s.
"I mean I suspect we can have an army of 120,000, of which 30,000 might be robots, who knows," said Carter during the Sky News interview. "But the answer is we need to open our minds to perhaps not determining what we should be doing but rather the effect that we can achieve, is really what we should be looking for."
While Carter emphasized he wasn't setting rigid targets, these forthcoming automatons might serve near or at the front lines of future conflicts, reports Engadget.
Carter wasn't engaged in sci-fi speculation — money for robotic warfare was to play a key role in a five-year defense review, now postponed. Carter also asked the U.K. government to take steps toward raising a robot army during his interview with Sky News.
If the U.K. army shifted toward robots, we shouldn't be surprised. Its army has experienced difficulties meeting key recruitment goals — with only 73,870 trained soldiers falling below the expected 82,050. Robots might close the gap in recruits and perhaps expand the nation's military while also reducing reliance on human soldiers.
Robot army battles still many years away
However, no one knows for sure what specific roles the robots will fill. Significant opposition to autonomous "killer robots" exists — which raises concern about lethal robots running free and without human intervention, or conscience. Meanwhile, drones need operators to either control them directly, or make critical judgment calls before executing precision attacks.
The robots, too, might require human interaction on a long-term basis. If robots of the fully-automated persuasion enter the U.K. army, they might only run cargo trucks, serve as scouts, or other unarmed duties. In a logistical sense, this might bring robots into a role capable of helping human soldiers focus on combat — but apocalyptic visions of robot-versus-robot skirmishes probably aren't in the cards for the near future of any nation.