The AI Robot That Was Designed To Murder

While many negatively associate the unmanned drones of modern warfare with films such as the "Terminator" franchise, it is worth noting that such unmanned weapons have been a part of combat for much longer than the 1990s. During both World Wars, the Allies and (in World War II) the Axis made immense strides in both gyroscopically- and radio-controlled missiles, bombs, and drones (via Smithsonian Magazine). During the Vietnam War, drones were used by the United States to perform intelligence-gathering missions that would have been fatal to a live pilot (via HistoryNet).

What has usually set these real-world examples apart from their science fiction counterparts is that none of them are autonomous. If they were not being controlled directly by a pilot through radio, television, or satellite, then they were given a pre-programmed flight path on which to perform photo reconnaissance or bombing runs. The agency to perform a mission has never fallen to the machine itself. At least, not until 2020, when a drone controlled by artificial intelligence conducted a high-profile assassination in Iran.

Artificial Intelligence is allegedly being used for political assassinations

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh (above) was one of Iran's top nuclear scientists, and was a key component in his country's aim of developing functional nuclear energy and weapons. As such he was considered a great threat to Iran's enemies, including Israel, which, according to the The New York Times, sought his assassination for years, primarily through the use of Mossad agents, who also killed many other Iranian nuclear scientists. Per reports from the Iranian government, Israeli operatives allegedly found a solution when, on November 27, 2020, Fakhrizadeh was traveling home by car when he was shot and killed (via BBC). 

The source of the assassination apparently came from a pickup truck, to which an autonomous gun was fixed. With satellite guidance, the weapon supposedly fired on the scientist without any human operation and virtually no error, as his wife was physically unharmed, despite having been inches away from him (via Popular Mechanics). While Israel has neither confirmed nor denied the allegation, many countries, including the U.S., consider them responsible (via CNN).