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My new Fellow Soldier - Corporal Robot? (Wellbrink)

In short by Gertrud Maria Vaske

A global public debate has ignited around the use of combat robots, with potential implications not only for security policy in general but also for the armed forces. In this context, Lieutenant Colonel (GS) Dr. Jörg Wellbrink refers to a study by the Bundeswehr planning office on developments in robotics research.

In his essay, he points out that soldiers are faced with increasingly complex tasks in new conflict and deployment scenarios. Special attention should be given to robotic systems having a relatively small range of functions intended primarily to assist soldiers. Ethical, legal and sociocultural considerations concerning the military use of robots open up a wide field of reflection. Not everything that is technically possible and feasible in the future is also militarily and ethically sound.

Wellbrink characterizes the shortcomings of artificial versus human intelligence and critically examines the potential uses of combat robots. So far, with respect to carrying out orders, they have lacked the necessary flexibility and improvisational skills to cope with unpredictable situations or complex tasks.

For Wellbrink, the combined deployment of man and machine leaves many questions unanswered, not least that of responsibility for using weapons against people.

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