Sensing a control problem? autonomous unmanned combat air systems and human control

Shawn A Kalis, Salve Regina University


Military unmanned aerial system technology, remote sensing systems, and artificial intelligence all play critical roles in creating the possibility for completely autonomous unmanned combat air systems. The integration of these technologies is significantly affecting the human-technology relationship on the battlefield. Not only are these technologies decreasing the level of direct human interaction in warfare, they are also significantly increasing the physical distance between humans and machines. This increased distance raises questions regarding the ability of humanity to maintain control over autonomous weapons systems. The development of these autonomous technologies appears to validate the position of traditional technological determinists such as Martin Heidegger and Jacques Ellul, as well as contemporary thinkers such as Raymond Kurzweil, Stephen Hawking, and Elon Musk, who propose that artificial intelligence technology is not a thing that can be controlled, but rather an influence or force that transcends human ability to maintain control over, and that any sense of control is merely an illusion. This work defends the thesis that while integrated technologies are significantly contributing to the evolution of fully autonomous unmanned combat air systems, the existence and application of these technologies do not by default support the hard technological deterministic view that technology is a force or influence beyond human control, nor does the evolution of such technologies necessarily threaten humanity’s ability to maintain control.

Subject Area

Philosophy of Science|Robotics|Artificial intelligence

Recommended Citation

Kalis, Shawn A, "Sensing a control problem? autonomous unmanned combat air systems and human control" (2016). Doctoral Dissertations. AAI10124171.