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Killer Robot Panic

Louis BaseneseThe United Nations just delayed a meeting that would’ve addressed the “robot arms race.”

So in a demonstration of urgency, a consortium of 116 industry insiders decided to sign a loose agreement — one that bans the use of lethal autonomous weapons.

Lethal autonomous robots is a fancy name for “killer robots.”

According to the consortium — led by Tesla’s founder Elon Musk — killer robots are “morally wrong,” and should therefore be treated in the same fashion as land mines, fire bombs and chemical weapons.

Such weapons are regulated under the U.N.’s 1983 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW).

Before we rush to join the world’s most visionary technologists in calling for a ban on killer robots, let’s take a minute to pause and reflect…

Imagine a world where gunpowder was never allowed to be developed.

Or a world where nuclear fission was deemed too dangerous.

Are such mandates a good idea?

Or do they thwart the natural progress of innovation — and, most importantly, investment opportunities?

Military robots would save millions of lives and billions in taxpayer money

Jonathan RodriguezI think we’d all agree that a human life is more valuable than a robot life. With that in mind, chew on this key stat — 1 million.

That’s the minimum number of Americans that have been killed in war since our nation was founded, according to DOD estimates.

Even one lost soldier is one too many. So if robots can save lives, it’s a no-brainer morally.

Turns out it makes sense on the economic side of the equation, too.

In 2012, the Department of Defense estimated that the cost of deploying a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan for one year was $850,000.

But if you include health care costs, that figure balloons to more than $1 million.

Ready for a shocker?

The Army’s lead candidate to replace live soldiers, SWORDS (the Special Weapons Observation Reconnaissance Detection System), developed by Foster-Miller, carries a price tag of just $230,000 per unit.

And the company estimates that the cost could drop to just $150,000 per unit, when mass-produced.

So robots are cheaper than soldiers… and they keep our service members out of harm’s way.

The idea of robotic warfare might sound scary and apocalyptic, but it’s actually more humanistic

Hoping to decisively end World War II, America developed a weapon of mass destruction: the nuclear bomb.

In August 1945, we detonated two of these “war-enders” over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

In the process, the cities were wiped out, killing at least 129,000 people… many of them civilians.

Believe it or not, robotic warfare has taken the opposite, even a “humanist,” approach.

Thanks to major technological advances, we can target enemy combatants more efficiently than ever before.

Consider: A drone can now launch a Tomahawk guided cruise missile from more than 1,000 miles away and detonate it at the feet of its intended target.

Rather than level a whole city to kill a terror cell, we can now target them surgically, saving countless civilian lives.

As former White House spokesman Robert Weiner and defense analyst Tom Sherman bluntly put it, “Osama bin Laden hated drones, because they work.”

Can’t get more straightforward than that.

No doubt robotic soldiers would take warfare to the next level of efficiency, saving even more innocent lives in the process.

The United Nations is too late and nothing but a menace to progress

Martin HutchinsonPutting any faith or hope in the United Nations is pointless. Why? Because when it comes to science, the U.N. has been a menace to the advancement of civilization for decades.

Consider, for example, a 1979 treaty that bans private property in space, making it “the common heritage of all mankind.”

This single act is almost certainly already preventing people from devoting resources to asteroid mining.

In the case of killer robots, the U.N. is not only proving slow to act but is overly complicating the matter. Again.

The U.N.’s proposed ban includes lethal drones, which have been used successfully by the U.S. for over a decade.

Rolling back progress that saves human lives, as Jonathan points out above, is a nonstarter.

In the end, the U.N. is striking a moral posture that is both Luddite and ineffective. The world’s bad guys will evade its restrictions, while the West will feel bound by them.

Bottom Line: The real “threat” is an urgent investment opportunity

Louis BaseneseMusk needs to take a chill pill!

We’re years away from any nation potentially greenlighting robots specifically designed to be killing machines.

Plus, the real threat is more likely to be pedestrian robots with advanced AI capabilities that go “rogue” rather than ones specifically armed for battle.

Here’s the rub… For such a day to even be possible, significant progress still needs to be made in the fields of automation, materials science and artificial intelligence, among others. And therein lies a current investment opportunity.

Put simply, instead of panicking, we should be investing in robots. Much more good than harm will come from them.

The quickest, easiest and lowest-risk way to do so is via the ROBO Global Robotics and Automation Index ETF (ROBO), which we’ve recommended here before.

If you’re looking for the opportunity for triple-digit gains, sign up for a risk-free trial to our premium advisory, True Alpha.

We already banked a 105% gain by playing “boring” industrial robot-makers. And we’ve identified at least three other microcaps levered to this mega-trend that could easily soar as high in the coming weeks.

Don’t miss out!

Ahead of the tape,

Louis Basenese
Chief Investment Strategist, Wall Street Daily