U.S. Army expects to replace a quarter of soldiers with robots by 2040

Robotics is a fast-growing industry, and in the next couple of decades, could be responsible for producing a large portion of the Army's soldiers. Said General Robert Cone in an Army Aviation symposium, the Brigade Combat Team could be reduced from 4000 to 3000 soldiers, using a combination of drones and robots to fill the reduced ranks.

Robots and drones have some advantages over soldiers in a battle field, not the least of which is the reduced loss in the event of a fatal attack, as well as hardware that is specialized for certain environments or tasks. Smaller and/or cheaper vehicles can be used, and, after all, robots don't need sleep. The issue is ensuring no loss in fighting ability results from replacing flesh and blood soldiers with reinforced steel and artificial intelligence.

According to Cone, all this ultimately will require breakthroughs in both science and technology that have not yet taken place — it is anticipated this military future will happen between 2030 and 2040, ushering in a reality that has long been a staple of science fiction novels and Hollywood blockbusters.

Of course, the military — and Army in particular — is no stranger to robots. Bomb squad robots have been a popular life-saving staple, DARPA funds have been used to develop robots with their own potential, and drones are a common element in a militarized sky. Adding upon this, it is safe to say discussion of ethics and philosophy regarding robots will ratchet up in the coming years, as well.

SOURCE: Popular Science