We can ignore it as long as we want to, but science fiction fantasy icons are already here - our skies are filled with armed automated robots holding death under their wings!
And no, this is not the start of a science fiction or fantasy novel. The United States has been fielding for some years now armed Predator and Reaper UAVs that can fire lethal tank-busting Hellfire missiles from pylons under their wings.
But, are they real Artificial Intelligence Robots? Can the Predator and Reaper drones take out targets on their own?
Let's first review what these drones are. Long range, 20 hours + cruising time, satellite links for virtual unlimited communications range and pylons for pairs of Hellfire laser guided missiles.
So, what are the capabilities of the Hellfire missiles?
They are hyper sonic missiles with a five mile range with a warhead designed to take out all modern tanks. Able to fly out to their maximum range of five miles in ten or fifteen seconds, they will strike before the enemy gets any warning and destroy almost everything they hit. Of course, with their laser targeting system and the drone's laser designation system, a hit is virtually guaranteed.
So, what about their intelligence? Can these drones act independently? Do they have artificial intelligence?
Sadly, at least from the pure science fiction viewpoint, the answer is no. The drones are controlled remotely by special ground control stations whose communications stream through satellite links which transmit to the controllers whatever the drones see and send the drones their commands.
But, it should be remembered that for better or worse, technology is advancing in a rapid pace. Drones are already capable of plotting their own course to reach a designated target and can loiter automatically at an established distance and height from their targets.
It is not long till the artificial intelligence of the drones increase to such a level they would be able to engage enemies by the own. Sadly, it is our own human nature which would compel us to reach such advancement.