For the generals and governments it is a long dream: the possibility to fight wars without the risk of losing soldiers and being responsible for this life loosing. Therefore, within the whole history one can find examples of more or less unmanned weapons, for example austrian balloon-bombs in the 19th century or tele-commanded soviet tanks in the second world war. But all these examples are just steps toward the unmanned weapons, which we know today.
The development of robotic unmanned weapons seems to be one of the most important inventions in the field of weapon systems within the last decades. They give the opportunity of reconnaissance of opponents’ military tactics, as well as the opportunity to fulfil strikes against opponents in their own hinterland without the danger of losing soldiers lives, just to name a few of all advantages. Due to these possibilities, unmanned systems are part of the contemporary wars of western countries, such as the wars in Afghanistan and the Iraq.
Therefore unmanned weapons today form an integral part of most modern armies. But because of the high technical level of unmanned weapons it needs a lot of money and economic force for a country‘s army to have a powerful arsenal of unmanned weapons, what increase the global imbalance of military force.
There are laboratory tests in order to create swarm armies of mini-drones (UASs)* who use the swarm intelligence to attack aims. Defending themselves against those swarms is impossible for countries with conventional weapons.
Besides this, there are also important ethical problems within the proliferation of these weapons. Joy-stick handled weapons are transforming the killing of enemies – or better to say humans – into a kind of a video-game. The elimination of a person is no longer a personal cruel act, but just a technical exercise. Even further go autonomic robots, which have to decide by their own, whether they should kill a human being or not.
Furthermore unmanned weapons might be vulnerable for external attacks from computers of the enemy so that they can control these weapons. This is very dangerous, especially if those unmanned systems are nuclear, biological or chemical weapons.
In consideration of the presented facts, there are also strong opponents of these weapon systems such as the “International Committee for Robot Arms Control”, who want to prevent the usage and proliferation of unmanned weapon systems.
*UAS = unmanned aircraft system
After the various terrorist attacks within the past years in NYC, London or Madrid terrorism the western society is in a general state of permanent alert. In 2010 for example Al-Qaida and allied are responsible for terror attack in 36 countries. But the fear of terrorist attacks in public events begins at the latest with the hostage taking at the Olympic Games in Munich 1972.
Today it is absolute normal that important events are secured by a large number of security personal and security technique. And it is also understood, that public places are supervised by video cameras not only in autocratic states, but also in western democracies which is going to be an undermining of civil rights in the name of security.
The G8-summit in Heiligendamm in 2007 can be seen as a representative example for the securing of an important event. The securing included a no-flight-zone, security-fences, zones with assembly ban, deployment of military personal and the massive presence of police. But as one can see, no terrorist attack occurred within the last years on events like the G8-summit or Olympic Games.
The establishing of anti-terrorism laws shall protect the society from terrorist attacks. But nevertheless there have to be limits for those laws especially in democratic states in order to remain the human and civil rights. A complete surveillance society is extremely dangerous for the freedom of the individuals and might eventually be misused to repress political opinions. An example for this is a list of terror suspects the U.S.A. created. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) this list contains over 1 million names there under congressmen, nuns and war heroes which seems to be a clearly misuse.
Cases like this have to be avoided; therefore you need strict limits for anti-terrorism laws.