THE ROBORDER PROJECT
The European Union is working on something they call the Roborder Project. The idea is to develop drones powered by artificial intelligence which will autonomously patrol Europe’s borders. There will be many different kinds of drones operating in swarms. This is including but not limited to, quad-copters, small-wing planes, ground vehicles, and submarines.
Roborder won its funding grand in 2017 and plans to develop an army of robotics to support border patrol by mid 2020. The EU plans to have this army employing optical, infrared, and thermal cameras. Radar and radio frequency sensors will be used to determine threats along the border. Cell phone frequencies will be used to triangulate the location of people suspected of criminal activity, and cameras will identify humans, guns, vehicles, and other objects. The main idea is to have as many sensors in the field as possible to assist border patrol personnel.
The developers behind the project claim the drones will be adept at identifying humans and will decide on their own whether they constitute a threat. If they decide you are a threat they will notify border police. Despite the fact that immigration remains a hot button topic all over the world there hasn’t been a single governing body willing to take things this far. Is this a good idea? Or is too much power being placed in the hands of autonomous drones?
The basic idea of the Roborder Project illustrated.
SHOULD AUTONOMOUS DRONES PATROL OUR BORDERS?
This is a topic that has many experts split down the middle. On the one hand, many point out that combinine weaponized drones with the decision making power of AI and you’ll have a slippery slope down to where these drones will be taking action against people inside the borders. Others point out just how serious the issue of immigration is and use it to justify border security through any means necessary.
Roborder’s developers argue that these ethical concerns did not apply to their work, stating that their only goal was to develop and test the new technology and that it will not be sold or transferred outside of Europe after the project is deployed.
The fact of the matter is unlawful immigration puts a serious economic and social strain on the countries in question. There is no good way to argue against this fact. The question isn’t whether something should be done but whether autonomous drones guarding the border is a good idea. It is important to make this distinction before moving on.
EUROPE HAS A SERIOUS IMMIGRATION PROBLEM
We are already well on our way to developing autonomous law enforcement robots because humans simply can’t do it all. We need to use this technology in a useful and ethical manner in order to equip law enforcement with what they need to do what they are supposed to do, which is to enforce the law. As it stands Europe has been dealing with a serious immigration crisis for the past decade. A huge influx of immigrants from regions of Africa and the Middle East have flooded Europe.
It has gotten to the point where European politicians are having great success running on anti- immigrant platforms. The Roborder Project is the EU’s way of dealing with the problem. There is no evidence to suggest this project will start us down rolling a slippery slope of tyranny. In fact, these drones could be the solution we have been looking for.
IS THIS ETHICAL?
Giving machines the power to decide whether a person is a threat or not is going to be morally gray no matter how you look at it. What we can look at though, is the problem that is trying to be addressed. Each country has the power to enforce their immigration laws. The use of AI is just another way to deal with the fact that border patrols all over the world are short handed. AI will simply streamline the enforcement process that is already taking place.